Second half of cold-flu season may cough up sales
NEW YORK — The second half of the 2010-2011 cough-cold-flu season actually may realize greater sales of symptom relievers than last year, judging from the four weeks ended Dec. 26. According to Matrixx president and CEO Bill Hemelt, sales of remedies were on the rise in those four weeks. Hemelt noted that the total cough-cold category was 5% higher than the same period last year and growing.
However, there still exists an inclination of retailers to order ultra- conservatively when it comes to cough-cold remedies, Hemelt noted, so ordering may become heavy in the second half. “Retailers continued to trim their inventory levels in comparison to last year; however, we believe retailers’ inventory of our products has reached a point where they will increase purchases to offset the increased consumer takeaway,” he said.
In addition to colds, incidence of influenza also appeared on the rise heading into February. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that 30 states were reporting widespread influenza activity as of Jan. 29.
Study: 53% of colds originate in workplace
Americans are hard-pressed these days to call in sick, especially for something as innocuous as a cold or even the flu. A recent CareerBuilder survey found that nearly 72% of workers typically go to work when they are sick. Workplace pressures and “presenteeism” may be causing workers to go in under the weather, as more than half (55%) of workers said they feel guilty if they call in sick.
The CareerBuilder survey was conducted nationwide from Nov. 15 to Dec. 2, 2010, among more than 3,700 workers.
That’s good news for purveyors of cold remedies, because the men and women who are sucking it up with the help of symptom relievers are likely passing their germs on to others. More than half of workers (53%) said they have gotten sick from a co-worker who came to the office sick, while 12% said they picked up a bug from someone who was sick on public transportation going to or from work.
J&J OTC products remain MIA until Q4
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — McNeil Consumer’s absence from cough-cold and analgesic aisles, including several pediatric formulations, will extend into the fourth quarter, Johnson and Johnson executives told analysts in January.
While retailers are likely to restore the Tylenol real estate once distribution is back online and McNeil begins supporting the brand again, right now that empty space is ripe for planogram expansion by rival over-the- counter companies. “It’s a mixed bag for [retailers],” Kline Group healthcare analyst Laura Mahecha suggested. “A lot of what J&J lost went to private labels; I’m sure [that] has helped retailers’ margins in a lot of the categories.”
The first hurdle will be restoring consumer confidence in the brand, a campaign that doesn’t look likely until 2012 now. “At the appropriate time, we will be investing in market support for our over-the-counter brands, such as Tylenol, Motrin and many others,” J&J chairman and CEO William Weldon told investors. “And we will be introducing product and packaging innovations for many products, especially for those for young children.”
U.S. sales across J&J’s OTC pharmaceuticals and nutritionals dropped 52.8% over the fourth quarter. The McNeil recalls impacted the fourth-quarter sales by approximately $300 million and total year sales by approximately $900 million, the company reported.