As of early February, incidence of cough-cold and influenza still was relatively low, but the season has yet to peak and that means there could be demand for symptomatic relief through March.
“Fever is just starting to move,” noted Scott Hanslip, director of sales for IMS Consumer Health, in the first week of February. However, overall incidence of upper respiratory illness was down 7.5% from September through Jan. 21, according to IMS Health tracking.
Annual category sales suggested a different story. According to SymphonyIRI Group data, sales of cough-cold tablets were up 4.2% to $2.7 billion for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 25 across food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart).
However, those sales figures still may reflect some reverberation from the 2009-2010 H1N1 season, Hanslip cautioned. “If you go back to Q4 2009, what’s happening is the amplitude of sales has really not caught up yet with what’s actually going on,” he said. “The inflationary buying that occurred for the pandemic forced an awful lot of adult-type consumption that was false.” Consequently, sales of cough-cold products in first quarter 2010 were so low that the first quarter of 2011, included in the present annualized sales figures, was significantly higher.
The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Cough-Cold & Allergy Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.