MADISON, N.J. -- With Walgreens pulling every last drop and tablet containing the popular decongestant pseudo-ephedrine behind its pharmacy counters and various states seeking to ban the OTC status of the ingredient altogether, at least one thing is certain: This season's cough-cold landscape is going to look a whole lot different from how it did last year.
Even so, consumers will still be making a dedicated trip to the local drug store when they or their loved ones are sick with a cold, according to exclusive research from Wyeth, and that makes the cough-cold aisles a destination center, more so even than pain medicine, another significant drug store category.
"The upper-respiratory purchase is more often a planned purchase than analgesics," noted Dave Howenstine, Wyeth vice president of category development. "Almost 9-out-of-10 shoppers, based on our research, had planned to buy that respiratory product before coming into the store," though there is some evidence of pantry loading at the season's start. "In the case of drug store shoppers, 86 percent said that [their cough-cold purchase] was the primary reason they came to the store that day," he added.
What's more, consumers aren't necessarily shopping by ingredient. While ingredients are an important element of the consumer's decision matrix, consumers more often select by symptom and by brand. And that makes communication both at the shelf and at the pharmacy counter paramount.
"There are consumers who are very loyal to some brands. Because cough-cold is an incidence-driven [category], this will be the first time they're coming back into the store to purchase that item since last season," said Keith Wypyszynski, Wyeth senior vice president of trade development. "For the people who are not [brand] loyal, it's [going to be] a very confusing category.
"Shelf is king. Because people are making a planned purchase, they're sick and don't feel well, they're going right for the section," Wypyszynski added. "Merchandising that shelf by symptom and brand to make it less complicated than it already is with the market-by-market pseudoephedrine withdrawal," he added, will be a boon for retailers looking to capture market share.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Reproduced with permission of the copyright holder. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group