Tylenol slugger expected to knock 'em out of the park this season

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — With Tylenol coming back to cough-cold and analgesic aisles over the next six months, you can bet the brand will soon resume its status as the cleanup hitter for Team OTC. That not only means a reshuffling of the lineup, but the respective No. 9 hitters will be packing their bags for a trip back to the minors.

(THE NEWS: Report: J&J resumes shipping of Tylenol product. For the full story, click here)

Another thing you can count on — fans, or consumers rather, won't punish Tylenol for its self-imposed stint on the DL. When consumers were surveyed by the Relational Capital Group a year ago about purchase intent and brand loyalty for Tylenol, 76% of consumers reported positive purchase intent and 67% positive brand loyalty for Tylenol.

“As you look at the Tylenol situation, consumers are interpreting [McNeil’s] production problems as a short-term lapse in competence, rather than a significant change in what their intentions are toward consumers,” Chris Malone, chief advisory officer of The Relational Capital Group, told Drug Store News at the time of the announcement. “When we look at the Tylenol brand, it appears that there is such a long track record of reliability and trust and a deep reservoir of good will,” he said, that consumers generally don’t believe J&J intentionally cut any corners in an effort to boost profits.

And that was then. Consumers have short memories, and that means those positive purchase intent and brand loyalty figures from a year ago likely are back to historical levels. In other words, consumers today are not likely to remember there even was a recall.

The real question will be whether or not retail buyers will give as many facings back to McNeil as they had prior to the recalls. A good many of those facings were replaced by store brand equivalents, and private label has been a booming business of late. For the 12 weeks headed into this year's cough-cold season, private-label sales were up 25% and represented the bestselling "brand" across cough-cold tablet sales with $186.7 million (source: SymphonyIRI Group for the 12 weeks ended Aug. 7 across food, drug and mass channels (not including Walmart).

No matter how many facings McNeil does or does not recapture, many analysts believe that Johnson and Johnson will come back to the market with a vengeance and some pretty deep advertising pockets. And that means plenty of traffic-driving influence will be going over the airwaves this season.

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