HEALTH

Wellness drives sales in digestives, probiotics

BY Michael Johnsen

Sales in the digestives aisle going forward look positive, especially as an aging population begins paying closer attention to healthy diets, including the right amount of dietary fiber to keep things “regular” and supplementation with probiotics for overall digestive health. 


Awareness is certainly on the rise, and awareness drives sales. According to the Natural Marketing Institute’s “Health and Wellness Trends Survey,” awareness of the term “probiotics” grew from 9% in 2002 to 60% of American adults in 2009. Such food manufacturers as General Mills and Kellogg’s increasingly are touting the benefits of fiber. “We’ve done a lot of education, especially around whole grains and fiber,” Karlis Nollendorfs, General Mills’ senior customer insights manager, told executives during a seminar at the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ Marketplace conference. “We recognize that a lot of people want to eat more [healthily].”


But the largest piece of the digestives pie is antacids, and this is another bright spot, with new players sparking increased advertising across the segment. For the 52 weeks ended June 12 across food, drug and mass (minus Walmart), sales of each of the major brands were up, with the exception of the largest brand — Procter & Gamble’s Prilosec OTC, which was only down 3.2% despite new competition. And sales of Prilosec OTC were only down 3.2%, according to SymphonyIRI Group data, despite the introduction in the past two years of generic competition and two new proton-pump inhibitor products. Even GlaxoSmithKline’s venerable Tums franchise is significantly up — 210.1% to $87.4 million. 


And according to findings from a recent survey fielded by Braun Research on behalf of Takeda Pharmaceuticals, heartburn mostly remains a self-treatment condition. Of the 1,004 surveyed, 39% only “occasionally” discussed frequent heartburn symptoms with their doctors and 19% “never” initiated that conversation.

 

 The article above is part of the DSN Category Review Series. For the complete Digestives Buy-In Report, including extensive charts, data and more analysis, click here.

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Schiff: Stop the BOGO promo

BY Michael Johnsen

SALT LAKE CITY — Enough is enough. That’s what Schiff Nutrition director, president and CEO Tarang Amin told analysts during a conference call Thursday — only four months into his tenure — regarding the predominant industry practice of funding buy-one-get-one promotions for glucosamine and chondroitin supplements.

“One of the common practices in this industry, which Schiff has also followed, is the prevalence of trade spending, such as buy-one-get-one-free, bonus bottles and other discounts,” Amin said. “These tactics erode premium brands and incent disloyal consumer behavior. Therefore, an important action we’re taking is to reduce this trade spending and invest resources in consumer advertising. In fiscal year 2012, we expect to substantially increase our advertising levels.”

Schiff intends to take its sales and marketing investment as a percent of Schiff Move-Free product sales from approximately 16% in fiscal 2011 to between 22% and 24% fiscal 2012.

If successful, the move could restore growth to the sales of glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, the second-largest herbal supplement category with sales of $298.1 million for the 52 weeks ended May 15 across food, drug and mass (minus Walmart) outlets, according to SymphonyIRI Group data. Those sales were down 10.1%, compared with the year-ago period, and a lot of that retraction historically has been credited to BOGO promotions that train customers to not buy a glucosamine/chondroitin product unless they’re getting that second box for free.

Pulling away from BOGO promotions will be a welcome change to retailers, according to some suppliers. “[BOGO] is a method of gaining consumer trial,” one supplier recently told Drug Store News. “That’s what it should be used for, right? What it becomes is a mainstay — you have to have the volume,” the supplier said. “Retailers don’t want to do [BOGO]. They would rather have a regular promotion here and there,” the supplier added, “because it’s more of a margin for them.”

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FDA updates parents on acetaminophen guidance

BY Michael Johnsen

ROCKVILLE, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration on Friday refreshed its Consumer Updates page with information regarding the danger of acetaminophen overdose in children.

“You’re in the drug store, looking for a fever-reducing medicine for your children,” the message begins. “They range in age from 6 months to 7 years, and you want to buy one product you can use for all of them. So you buy liquid acetaminophen in concentrated drops for infants, figuring you can use the dropper for the baby and a teaspoon for the oldest.”

“This could be a dangerous mistake,” said Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of New Drugs. “You can’t just give an older child more of an infant’s medicine,” she added. “Improper dosing is one of the biggest problems in giving acetaminophen to children.”

An FDA Advisory Panel earlier this year recommended that liquid, chewable and tablet forms of acetaminophen be made in just one strength and that dosing instructions to reduce fever be developed for children as young as 6 months. Current instructions apply to children ages 2 to 12 years; for those younger than 2 years, instructions only state “consult a doctor.”

Panelists also recommended setting standards for dosing devices, such as spoons and cups, for children’s medicines. “[The] FDA is considering these recommendations,” Kweder reported, and for those that the agency adopts, “we will work with manufacturers to try to get them in place on a voluntary basis.”

The industry, however, hasn’t waited for the FDA to act. A few weeks before that FDA Advisory Panel met, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association announced plans to convert pediatric acetaminophen products to just one concentration. That transition currently is taking place.

The industry’s voluntary change means the current children’s strength of liquid acetaminophen (160 mg/5 mL) will become the only liquid concentration available for all children ages 12 years and under, and the current concentrated infant drops no longer will be sold.

“CHPA member companies are voluntarily making this conversion to one concentration to help make it easier for parents and caregivers to appropriately use single-ingredient liquid acetaminophen,” CHPA president and CEO Scott Melville said at the time of the announcement. “We are committed to providing parents and caregivers with the tools and information they need to help give their children the right amount of these medicines.“

Acetaminophen is the most commonly used children’s medicine for relieving pain and reducing fever. It provides parents and caregivers with an important doctor-recommended treatment option for relieving pain and fever in children when used as labeled.

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