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Electrotherapy devices dominate shelves

BY Michael Johnsen

IRI recently began tracking sales of TENS devices as part of its first-aid accessories grouping. Many retailers have created a synergistic merchandising adjacency of TENS devices and external analgesic rubs, which is particularly relevant as Chattem’s Icy Hot brand is a leader across both categories.

(Click here to view the full OTC Category Review.)

TENS devices, which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, use gentle pulses to stimulate nearby nerves and are thought to scramble pain messages to the brain, stimulate the production of endorphins and improve blood circulation. Omron first entered the category with its Pain Relief Pro electroTHERAPY unit. Since then, Chattem has launched an Icy Hot TENS SKU, as has Carex with a line called AccuRelief Pain Relief Systems.

Electrotherapy represents a growth market that’s gaining traction among tech-savvy pain sufferers. Earlier this year, NeuroMetrix was recognized for innovation in the wearable tech category at the 19th Annual SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards for its Quell pain reliever. The Quell Wearable Pain Relief technology now has 25% more battery life and is more integrated with the Quell Relief smartphone app, allowing users to manage their pain and see insights about their sleep patterns.

And earlier this year, healthcare and technology start-up iTENS charged CES 2016 with the launch of its TENS therapy device that works via an iPhone or Android based app. The iTENS is a lithiumion battery that provides 24 hours of use on a single charge, and the peel ’n stick gel pads are reusable and replaceable for multiple applications at a very low cost to the user.

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Product innovation from top brands drives growth

BY Michael Johnsen

Adult incontinence — also called by the more consumer-friendly category monikers of overactive bladder or bladder control — is one of the larger categories within OTC that’s growing at an almost double-digit rate. The category as a whole is trending 8.5% higher for the 52 weeks ended Feb. 21 on a huge base — $1.7 billion in sales across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI. And two of the top three brands — Kimberly-Clark’s Poise and Procter & Gamble’s Always Discreet — are helping to drive that growth with new product innovation.

(Click here to view the full OTC Category Review.)

P&G re-entered the category in 2014 after a 15-year hiatus, but the company has reclaimed dollar share of 8.9% of the category, according to IRI. “We continue to be encouraged by the progress we’re making on Always Discreet,” P&G president and CEO Alan Lafley told analysts last summer. “Importantly, we are attracting new women to the category. … Women are not satisfied with current product offerings that don’t work very well.”

Last year, Kimberly-Clark invigorated its Poise brand with the launch of Poise Impressa Bladder Supports, a new over-the-counter internal solution designed for the temporary management of stress urinary incontinence in women. “By effectively translating deep consumer insights, we’ve introduced an innovation with Poise Impressa that changes the game in the light incontinence category,” noted Paula Winkel, senior director of Kimberly-Clark research and engineering.

New to the category is Butterfly Health, a new form of protection targeting the 90% of bowel leakage sufferers who need only a lightly absorbent product. It’s an absorbent body liner and, according to the company, the first and only product to adhere gently in between the buttocks.

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Latest switch, record pollen levels lure consumers

BY Michael Johnsen

It’s another year, and another February launch of a nasal corticosteroid has hit drug store shelves. This time it’s McNeil Consumer’s Rhinocort that will be looking to make some headway in one of the fastest-growing categories across the front-end. Already, “from the makers of Zyrtec” and a value proposition — getting more medicine for less money — are being touted as the key marketing differentiators.

(Click here to view the full OTC Category Review.)

Judging from the last two prescription nasal allergy remedies to make the crossover to OTC aisles, all of this means there will be significant incremental growth to the category. Last year saw $331.9 million in first-year Flonase sales, according to IRI figures, and none of the other leading allergy franchises were notably worse for wear.

All of that suggests there may be more than just new prescription allergy patients hunting the OTC aisles now that their once-prescribed allergy remedy made the switch. Indeed, 2016 may be remembered as the worst pollen season on record. “Unfortunately, it’s true that in the past few years, the amount of pollen in the air during spring allergy season seems to have gotten worse,” stated allergist Bryan Martin, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. “One of the reasons is the effects of climate change.”

And the lengthening of pollen allergy seasons is introducing an increased intensity of aeroallergen exposure. According to the World Allergy Organization, over the past 10 years allergy sufferers have had to begin managing their symptoms about two weeks earlier.

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