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Focus on specialized needs boosts sales

BY Michael Johnsen

Sales of ear care products are booming, reaching $77.2 million, up 24.4%, for the 52 weeks ended July 14 across U.S. total multi-outlets, according to IRI. What was once considered a commodity category may be becoming more segmented.

(For the full category review, including sales data, click here.)

For example, Cirrus Healthcare is working toward segmenting the ear care market by educating consumers on the different purchase occasions. "What’s evolving is the realization that not all ear plugs are the same," said Lanny Lewis, SVP business development for Cirrus Healthcare. There are specially engineered ear plugs to alleviate problems associated with changing cabin pressure on flights, foam ear plugs for noise reduction and silicon ear plugs for protection from water. "What we’re trying to do is educate [the consumer] that there are different types of ear plugs and different shapes within the types."

Licensed ear plugs have become a key differentiator among children’s sizes, giving mom an assist by making the products more approachable to children.

The As Seen on TV ear care accessory WaxVac, an ear wax remover, also has been raking in the sales with more than $10.4 million in sales its first year in the mass market.

Within eye care, dry eye solutions have been trending up, with both Bausch + Lomb and Prestige Brands’ Clear Eyes making new introductions into the space. And sales of Zeiss eye and lens care accessories have really taken off. Dollar sales for the premium-positioned line totaled $19.6 million for the 52 weeks ended July 14, up 139.7%.

Another area trending up in lens care is hydrogen peroxide-based systems. As many as 87% of optometrists have been advocating these products lately, according to a recent survey conducted by Contact Lens Spectrum.

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Tummy Co.’s introduces antacid in liquid format

BY Michael Johnsen

PHOENIX — Another new delivery system recently introduced into the antacid space is Tummy Co’s Relief OTC Antacid, an orange cream-flavored liquid that offers immediate relief with the ingredients calcium carbonate, potassium bicarbonate and sodium bicarbonate. After 5-Hour Energy’s success, the shot format is becoming popular in other categories.

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Switch, new launches to bring resurgence

BY Michael Johnsen

What a difference a year will make. While sales of antacid tablets were down 1.3% to $2 billion for the 52 weeks ended July 14 across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI, the entire category ought to have made a significant resurgence by this time next year.

(For the full category review, including sales data, click here.)

The Rx-to-OTC switch of the last big-name proton-pump inhibitor in the pharmaceutical space is currently under consideration by the Food and Drug Administration. Should AstraZeneca’s Nexium be approved as an over-the-counter remedy, a $6 billion book of prescription business in the United States could make the switch, according to IMS Health data compiled over 2012. That shift from prescription-only to OTC doesn’t translate dollar-for-dollar, but it does spell plenty of opportunity for all OTC antacids in May 2014 — which is when Nexium patents expire and presumably is Pfizer’s target launch date for the switch.

GlaxoSmithKline’s Tums continues to sell well as the value proposition. At less than $4 per unit, Tums is by far the least expensive top-10 antacid on the market. But Bayer Consumer will ramp up the competition with its recently launched Alka Seltzer Fruit Chews, and Chattem is planning a relaunch of the venerable Rolaids brand later this year.

Another hot category is probiotics, with the leading brands all up by double-digits for the 52 weeks ended July 14: Phillips Colon Health ($58.7 million, up 19.9%), Culturelle ($20.1 million, up 33.7%), Sustenex ($9.4 million, up 16.6%) and Align ($6.9 million, up 117.8%).

According to a survey conducted by Dannon each year, 68% of Americans are aware that probiotics play a key role in maintaining digestive health. A separate study published Aug. 19 in Pediatrics found that the babies of pregnant women who supplement with probiotics were less likely to have allergies.

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