HEALTH

Accommodating a growing trend

BY Michael Johnsen

The time is now to move any breast-feeding products from the floor of the baby care aisle to eye level — as Walgreens has done here — because mom’s interest in the category received two big boosts earlier this year.


First, Surgeon General Regina Benjamin in January issued a call to action to support breast-feeding, and that means more women now are more likely to look into the benefits of breast-feeding. Already 3-out-of-4 mothers in the United States start out breast-feeding, and as many as 50% of mothers return to work full-time within six months of their infant’s birth. At the end of six months, breast-feeding rates fall to 43%, and only 13% of babies are exclusively breast-fed.


Second, the Internal Revenue Service in February reversed itself in announcing that breast-feeding supplies qualify as a medical expense — and because the pump and supplies are devices, they won’t need a prescription to qua-
lify either.

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HEALTH

Retailers, consumers seeing purple

BY Michael Johnsen

Customers are seeing purple again — reminiscent of another switch that took advantage of the eye-catching color purple. Sanofi-Aventis through its Chattem division in March launched Allegra, the last of the second-generation antihistamines. And purple-powered displays, like this in a Walmart in Lancaster, Pa., dotted the retail pharmacy landscape.


“We will make very, very massive investments in terms of advertising and promotion, and we are in fact very confident and even optimistic that in a very, very short [time] we will reach sales levels [as high as] the two leading products in this field,” boasted Hanspeter Spek, president of global operations for Sanofi-Aventis, a few weeks before the actual launch. 


Though Allegra is not expected to reach the sales heights of $200 million-plus like its two second-generation antihistamine predecessors, Claritin and Zyrtec, an incremental $100 million-plus to OTC allergy sales is not out of the question.

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‘Pro’-active health at Wegmans

BY Michael Johnsen

Wegmans hosts a bevy of natural solutions (e.g., gluten-free foods, supplements and homeopathic solutions) just outside its produce department, including this refrigerated unit replete with probiotics and flax-seed oil supplements. That places the mass-oriented grocer more in line with the kind of natural wellness position you would expect to find at a Whole Foods or other natural grocer. 


Even during a time when consumers are cutting back on healthcare expenditures, the probiotics category has continued to grow. According to a report in New Hope 360, sales of probiotic refrigerated juices and beverages were up 43.6% in the natural channel for the 12 months ended August 2010, citing SPINS data. Sales of all probiotics across food, drug and mass in that time were up 37% to $223 million.

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