Despite the fact that H1N1 spiked awareness levels around cold and flu, overall illness rates remained relatively low as compared to seasons past. Drug Store News caught up with Mickael Tukdarian, president of Insight Pharmaceuticals, for some insight as to what happened this past season and how retailers may prepare for next season.
Drug Store News: What was the impact of last year’s cough-cold season on the sale of cough drops?
Mickael Tukdarian: The 2009-2010 season was an unusual one and did not follow any prior year patterns. This was, in great part, due to the H1N1 outbreak hitting in October 2009. There was a sales spike at that time, which is quite early for cough-cold. In recent years, the season has seen a small blip in December, with the heavy season actually hitting in late February or even early March. As the 2009-2010 season progressed, there was no second H1N1 breakout, which both manufacturers and retailers were expecting and planning for in December and January. Additionally, there was almost no regular cough-cold season during [the first quarter].
As far as the impact on Sucrets, timely promotional and advertising efforts helped the cough-cold sell through and did not reflect the terrible industry season. IRI data for the 2009-2010 season showed the total cough-cold drop category flat versus last year. In the sore throat lozenge subcategory, Sucrets outpaced the category average.
DSN: What should retailers expect for the coming season? How might they best prepare for the 2010-2011 cough-cold season?
Tukdarian: It appears that we are going to return to the normal season, beginning in November/December and peaking in February. Past experience has shown that as cold and flu incidences rise in a specific area, the shelf takeaway accelerates at a pace that makes it a challenge to maintain shelf inventory levels. Having safety stock of cough-cold products at distribution centers during this seasonal ramp up is critical.
DSN: What’s new with Sucrets?
Tukdarian: Along with all of our trade efforts, we are going to drive more consumer advertising to promote awareness and boost sales. We are really excited about our new Sucrets’ television campaign launching during the 2010-2011 cough-cold season. This new broadcast campaign is a big new step forward for Sucrets, and we can’t wait to share the details with our trade partners. The campaign will coincide with our other programs, such as seasonal [free-standing inserts] and product bonus packs.