Special Report: The best new OTCs/HBCs of 2002

Hamacher provides data on bestselling OTCs/HBCs introduced in 2002




Of the 1,809 new over-the-counter and health and beauty care (HBC) items analysts at Hamacher Resource Group reviewed in 2002, only 490 were judged to be worthy of being incorporated into the planograms the firm prepares for its customers. That's 152 more than in 2001, when the Hamacher specialists regarded only 338 of 1,718 product introductions important enough to be included in the planograms. Of this year's 490 items, 474 were given a one-star, two-star, or three-star rating.

Eight of these starred items have performed above and beyond expectations, having already won a place on Hamacher's elite Top 1,000 OTC/HBC list. Those eight items are listed in the table below.


Items in the top 1,000

Crest Plus Scope Toothpaste 6.2 oz. Whitening Minty Fresh
Gillette Mach3 Turbo Cart 4 ct
Gillette Mach3 Turbo Cart 8 ct
Medisense Precision Xtra Glucose Test Strips 100 ct
Ocuvite Preservision Tabs 120 ct
ThermaCare Therapeutic Heat Wraps 2 Back sml/med
ThermaCare Therapeutic Heat Wraps 2 Back lg/xlg
ThermaCare Therapeutic Heat Wraps 3 Neck to Arm

Standards for planogram placement

While more than 40,000 branded and private-label OTC/HBC items are sold in the United States, Hamacher grants only about 6,200 (slightly more than 15%) a place in its planograms each year. So when a new item earns a place in a planogram, its analysts expect the product to outsell nearly 85% of existing OTCs/HBCs.


Standards for medium and small planograms are very stringent. To earn a place in most medium (B-size) planograms, items must rank among the top 4,000 OTCs/HBCs. To be included in the smallest (C-size) planograms, items must show signs of outselling nearly 93% of currently available items and rank in the top 2,625 OTCs/HBCs. Even more important is the product's potential to excel within its own department. Before Hamacher's analysts add an item, they must be convinced that it will outsell at least one item already in the planogram.

The chart at right shows an overview of each OTC/ HBC department:

  • New items '02: The number of items reviewed for each department in 2002

  • Items added: The number of new items added to the largest planogram of the department

  • Items in department: The number of department items in the Hamacher database

  • Number of items in planograms: The number of SKUs in the department's largest planogram
21 departmentsNew items ’02Items addedItems in dept.# in largest planogram
Analgesics Antacids/laxatives Baby Cough and cold Deodorants Diabetic Diet/nutritionals Elastic and sports treat Eye and ear care Family planning Feminine hygiene First aid Foot care Hair care Health maintenance Incontinence Oral hygiene Shaving and men’s grooming Skin care Sun care Vitamins43 30 158 69 94 22 54 73 25 19 27 85 32 262 14 13 159 47 363 85 10522 16 22 32 46 8 17 7 6 0 5 4 17 49 4 1 23 25 85 36 231,119 978 1,750 1,667 695 771 1,882 1,776 679 320 520 1,210 951 2,852 1,535 549 1,460 661 998 667 11,296369 375 263 575 315 118 161 148 193 136 254 307 207 690 63 52 420 254 498 213 593


According to Information Resources Inc. (IRI), sales of internal analgesics declined 1% over the past year. Drugstores, however, improved their market position with a 3% sales gain. On the other hand, sales of external analgesics were up in all markets, especially drugstores. The subcategory had a 17% sales increase, led by drugstores' 19% growth. For the second straight year, introductions of pain-relieving patches drove sales, and the launch of ThermaCare, from P&G-Health, was 2002's big winner for the external analgesics subcategory, posting three of four SKUs among Hamacher's coveted Top 1,000 HBC products.


Product standoutsManufacturerRank in dept.
Bayer Extra Strength Back & Body Caplets, 50 ctBayer Inc.276
Bayer Women's Aspirin Plus Calcium Caplets, 60 ctBayer Inc.269
ThermaCare Heat Wraps 3 MenstrualP&G-Health210
ThermaCare Heat Wraps 2 Back sml/medP&G-Health122
ThermaCare Heat Wraps 2 Back lg/xlgP&G-Health71
ThermaCare Heat Wraps 3 Neck to ArmP&G-Health55

Cough and cold

It was another trying year for the cough and cold category. Of the five major subcategories—liquids and powders, tablets and packets, lip medications, nasal preparations, and cough drops—only lip medications had positive sales gains. Drugstores flourished in the lip subcategory, with an 11% increase in sales. According to IRI, nasal preparations were hit the hardest, dipping 6% compared with last year. Although there were no blockbuster new items in the category, 32 of the 69 new items earned planogram placements.


Product standoutsManufacturerRank in dept.
Alka-Seltzer Plus Nose & Throat Effervescent 20Bayer Inc.547
Comtrex Acute Head Cold Cap 20Bristol-Myers552
Comtrex Day/Night Cold & Cold Cap 20Bristol-Myers473
Halls Fruit Breezer Line 3 SKUsAdams400s
TheraFlu Vapostick MentholNovartis561
Delsym 12HR Cough Relief 5 oz.Celltech549


The deodorant category fell about 2% this year, despite 94 introductions, 46 of which won space in Hamacher planograms. The two biggest line introductions were Powerstripe from Gillette, an underarm deodorant with a bacterial-fighting strip, and Unilever's Axe, a deodorant body spray. Deodorant body spray is new to the United States, and Axe is the first to appear in the market. So far, the item is performing well. The Unilever launch has sparked other manufacturers, like P&G-Beauty's Old Spice line, to introduce body sprays hoping to compete in this arena in 2003.


Product standoutsManufacturerRank in dept.
Gillette Series Powerstripe AP 1.8 oz. FrostGillette201
Right Guard Xtreme Powerstripe 1.8 oz. EnergizeGillette126
Soft-Dri Powerstripe AP 1.8 oz. PeachGillette197
Hi-Dri R/O A/P 1.5 oz. Powder FreshRevlon125
Hi-Dri R/O A/P 1.5 oz. Powder UnscentedRevlon164
Mitchum R/O A/P 1.5 oz. Orig UnscentedRevlon123
Mitchum R/O A/P 1.5 oz. Orig ScentedRevlon258
The Secret Platinum Gel Line 6 SKUsP&G-Beauty200s
AXE Aerosol Body Spray Line 6 SKUsUnilever200s

Hair care

Hamacher planogrammed only 49 of the category's 262 new items. The reason? Many of the hair care products were larger sizes, more directed toward mass-market sales. Once again, there were no big hits in 2002, but several new items reached the top 400 in the department.


Product standoutsManufacturerRank in dept.
Prograine Shampoo 2-in-1Pharmacia121
Rave Hair Spray Aerosol 8.5 oz. 4x MegaUnilever312
Rave Hair Spray Aerosol 8.5 oz. 4x Mega UnUnilever245
Rave Hair Spray N/A 8.5 oz. 4x Mega UnUnilever345
Herbal Essence Shampoo Line 5 SKUsP&G-Beauty200s

Oral hygiene

Every year a couple of products stand out in oral hygiene, and they merit places in Hamacher's list of best items. This year is no exception. Crest Plus Scope from P&G-Health made the Top 1,000 list, while several others gained a spot in the top 2,500. Power-assisted toothbrushes drove sales in the category for the second consecutive year. As the number of innovative toothpastes multiplies, their higher price points have added value to the department. Also tooth whitening products continue to produce impressive sales growth. According to IRI, sales of tooth whiteners grew 124% in all outlets—and 130% in drugstores.


Product standoutsManufacturerRank in dept.
Crest Plus Scope Toothpaste 4.4 oz. White MFP&G-Health122
Crest Plus Scope Toothpaste 6.2 oz. White MFP&G-Health66
Arm & Hammer Dental Care Powder 4 oz.Church/Dwight232
Colgate Simply White Gel .34 oz.Colgate/Palmolive151
Colgate Toothpaste Fresh Confidence 6 oz.Colgate/Palmolive292
Sea Bond Denture BathCombe330

Shaving and men's grooming

Gillette wields the dominant market share in the category once again, and two of its product introductions broke into Hamacher's Top 1,000 list. Overall, the category is doing very well. Sales of razor refills rose nearly 3%, spurring the category's growth. Sales of disposable razors fell slightly, down about 1%.


Product standoutsManufacturerRank in dept.
Gillette Mach3 Turbo Cart 4 ctGillette4
Gillette Mach3 Turbo Cart 8 ctGillette10
Gillette Mach3 Turbo RazorGillette69

Skin care

This year, 363 products made their debut in the skin care category. However, like the hair care category, not all were appropriate for the drugstore: Sizes were too large, or the releases were less traditional bath and body lines designed for the mass-market. Hamacher planogrammed 85 of these new items. New products that seemed to perform best were line extensions of already successful brands.


Product standoutsManufacturerRank in dept.
Eucerin Itch Relief Moisturizing Spray 6.8 oz.Beiersdorf241
Nivea Silky Shimmer Lotion 6.8 oz.Beiersdorf168
Nivea Visage Gentle Cleansing Cream 6.8 oz.Beiersdorf396
Stridex Day/Night 2x .8 oz.Blistex345
Clean & Clear Dual Action MoisturizerJ&J239
Noxzema Triple CleanP&G-Beauty406

Sun care

Sun care sales grew 6% in drugstores over the past year. The reasons? Better-educated consumers and higher SPFs from manufacturers. As people learn more about the damaging effects of the sun, sales of higher SPF formulas continue to rise. Several new items in 2002 boasted an SPF rating of 45 or higher. Sales growth among drugstores is great news for those retailers with seasonal displays—even minimal sales increases during the busy months help justify a small year-round section.


Product standoutsManufacturerRank in dept.
Neutrogena Instant Bronze FM 4 oz. MedNeutrogena156
Neutrogena Instant Bronze LT 4 oz. DpNeutrogena168
Total Block S/B SPF60 2 oz. TNTFallene LTD197
Total Block S/B SPF 65 2 oz. ClearFallene LTD151

End-of-year introductions

Typically, year-end introductions won't make the Top 1,000 list because there are not enough sales data to rank the items accurately. There are a few items, however, that were released in November and December that Hamacher analysts predict will do well in their respective categories. These items include Nicotrol (Pharmacia), ICaps AREDS Formula (Alcon), Dr. Scholl's Tri-Comfort Insoles (Schering-Plough), Coppertone Spectra 3 Lotion (Schering-Plough), Monistat-1 Combo Pack Prefill (Personal Products), and One-A-Day WeightSmart (Bayer Inc.). All of these products show potential because they are backed by significant marketing budgets, solid brand recognition, and a track record of successful introductions.

Predictions for 2003

One of the most anticipated Rx-to-OTC switches—the loratadines—occurred last December when Claritin (Schering-Plough) and Alavert (Wyeth) entered the OTC market. Both products are expected to reshape the allergy subcategory. Look for generic launches to follow shortly, adding pricing options that will benefit both retailers and customers.

Another introduction expected to drive category sales is Unilever's Dove line of hair care products. The line features unique moisturizers and hopes to be placed adjacent to Pantene Pro V. The lines will feature similar price points. Dove's entry into the market is predicted to be one of the most powerful in category history, providing marketing support in the $100 million range.

Making choices

Traditionally, new items with the best chance of rising quickly up the top-sellers' list are those backed by strong advertising and marketing support. However, many of these items soar and then fade into obscurity or become niche items as people get past an item's initial "try me" stage. Staying power comes only if the product can keep its promises. If you're not currently on a planogram program, staying informed about new items can be challenging. Keep in close contact with your sales representative to make sure your store is the first to bring new items to your market.

Editor's note: The Hamacher Resource Group provided the information for this article. The Milwaukee company provides marketing services and business intelligence to the healthcare industry. Wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers partner with Hamacher Resource Group to improve their profitability. For more information, visit

(For a list of the top 200 over-the-counter and health and beauty care brands by dollars in 2002, see article in Self-Care.)


Special Report: The best new OTCs/HBCs of 2002. Drug Topics 2003;4:45.