Three new players sniff out a spot on retailers’ nasal care shelves

Waterpik’s SinuSense line

NEW YORK —Climbing at a rate of 18.6% to $66.6 million—according to SymphonyIRI Group data for the 52 weeks ended April 18 across food, drug and mass (excluding Walmart)—the three leading SKUs in the nasal irrigation category already are driving pretty significant growth as part of a set that’s oftentimes adjacent to cough-cold.

And the category is expected to get quite a bit larger as three new players come to market, especially as the increased marketing will be sure to raise awareness among the 90 million Americans who suffer from sinusitis, one of the conditions benefited by a nasal irrigation system. Today, only around 35% of that market uses some form of sinus wash, said Michael Wakeman, Waterpik VP marketing. And it’s a need that skews heavier toward the drug channel—48% of consumers buying in the category go to a pharmacy for their product.

Top three nasal irrigation systems *In millions† Versus year-ago period Source: SymphonyIRI Group for 52 weeks ended April 18 across FDMx
Blairex Simply Saline19.517.9
Neilmed Nasaflo17.533.5

Waterpik is looking to parlay its already-recognizable oral care brand into the space, coming to market with six SKUs as part of its Waterpik SinuSense line. And like its line of water-flosser products, Waterpik represents a trade-up premium opportunity across the set, especially with its Water Pulsator SKU, a battery-powered device that creates a gentle pulsating stream for a “maximum cleanse.” Waterpik is planning to support the launch with as much as $10 million in marketing during the 2010-2011 cough-cold-flu season.

Meanwhile, TechWorld Medicals is launching the only nasal irrigation system carrying a 510(k) clearance from the Food and Drug Administration. That means the device has been deemed safe and effective by the FDA as compared with similar products already on the market. That investment in obtaining a 510(k) clearance ought to resonate with healthcare professionals.

“We’re working to build consumer awareness through the doctor community,” said Michael Lupacchini, national sales manager at TechWorld. That includes ear, nose and throat specialists, as well as allergists and family doctors. Educating those healthcare practitioners around the benefits of nasal irrigation is one factor that will drive increased trial in this category, Lupacchini added.

Both Waterpik and TechWorld have incorporated backflow technology as a point of differentiation with their nasal irrigation systems.

The third new nasal irrigation product to come to market actually already has been on the market in excess of 115 years. By word of mouth alone, The Alkolol Co. moved more than 85,000 pieces across the top five retailers last year, all a result of a recommendation from an ear, nose and throat specialist or a family doctor.

“The customer [already] has driven the demand for this product, and they’ve gone to great lengths and expense to be able to acquire that product,” said Curt Behrens, president of P2B, the sales and marketing firm representing Alkolol. “They have to go to the pharmacy, provide a code, go home and wait for three days and then come back and pick up their product.… The customer has identified this niche.”

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