It may have taken an extended pandemic and global supply chain issues, but the two factors have worked in tandem this year to boost interest in homeopathic products.
A recent study from CVS Health confirmed what many suspected, which is that the pandemic altered consumers’ views about their health and the steps they are willing to take to maintain it. The 2022 Health Care Insights Study found consumers are more open to trying nontraditional healthcare options, with more than half (54%) saying holistic care options are important to them.
As self-care continues to trend upward, demand for natural alternatives, including homeopathic products, is on the rise. In 2021, dollar sales were up 5.9% versus 1.9% for conventional products. Furthermore, the global homeopathic medicine market is experiencing parallel growth and is projected to increase 52% to $1.3 billion by 2028.
“The pandemic is top of the pile when it comes to issues shaping consumers’ behaviors and purchases, especially in the pediatric remedy category,” said Joyce Dales, CEO and founder of Buzzagogo in Nottingham, N.H. “As people attempt to return to normalcy, they are viewing homeopathic and natural remedies as having equal, if not greater, value in protecting their families from illness.”
The second facet in this post-pandemic growth explosion has been created by supply chain breakdowns, Dales noted. As large mainstream products have struggled to stay in production, Dales said small U.S.-based companies that are not heavily reliant on foreign production or materials have filled those gaps and gained visibility that would normally be impossible to achieve without deep pockets.
“The rules are bending and it’s creating a ton of opportunities for innovation and growth. Consumers are thinking of wellness in a whole new way with a focus on prevention and biohacking,” Dales said.
All of these factors have helped draw consumers to natural products such as homeopathics, but qualities such as safety, effectiveness, accessibility and the fact that it can be taken with OTCs and medications are getting consumers to return to the category.
“One of the greatest advantages that homeopathic products offer over traditional medicine is the absence of side effects, interactions with other medications or contraindications,” said Susan Hanson, COO of TRP based in Reno, N.V. “With nearly half of all Americans (44%) taking at least one prescription medication, consumers now know they can avoid potential complications or interactions with their medications by using homeopathic products.”
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Not a flash in the pan
MaryEllen Tefft, vice president of sales-FDM at Boiron USA located in Newtown Square, Pa., said that while COVID helped shape some of the current trends, consumers’ desires to seek out an integrative approach to health will remain strong long after the pandemic. Natural alternatives are now fully entrenched in consumers’ lives, she noted. Consumers are migrating to products containing more natural active ingredients, especially those made specifically for children, she said.
“The onset of COVID may have highlighted the importance of taking care of one’s health, but based on retailer and consumer behavior since the pandemic began, it’s clear this trend will not be going away anytime soon,” Tefft said.
Innovation has also played a key role in category expansion. Frank King, owner and president of King Bio, the manufacturer and developer of the Dr. King’s brand, said his company recently developed a pure water base that replaces traditional alcohol and sugar bases common in homeopathic products.
The Asheville, N.C.-based company offers a broader, more comprehensive range of active homeopathic ingredients to better target the more complex issues associated with allergies, pain, sleep and stress. Dr. King’s brand provides its active ingredients in triple potency strengths in an easy one-handed pump spray delivery system that addresses the issue of opening, closing, measuring or spillage of the product. “Increasingly, people are seeking safer, more natural solutions, including homeopathic remedies, that safely and effectively address common health problems such as allergies, pain, sleep and stress,” King said.
The sleep category across all retail channels was growing by double digits prior to the pandemic, but sales have exploded since.
Typically dominated by traditional over-the-counter brands, today’s growth in the sleep category is being driven by dietary supplement brands featuring melatonin or herbal-based formulas. Given the increasing evidence that melatonin may interact with birth control, diabetes and blood pressure medications, and is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, some brands like Boiron are beginning to offer melatonin-free, hormone-free formulas.
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Category growth is coming from a broad spectrum of consumers, but millennials are behind much of it. “This consumer group is more likely to seek out products with natural ingredients for sleep and is willing to spend more for safer options. They are also more likely to seek out a sleep aid faster — only waiting one or two nights of sleeplessness,” Tefft said.
Sniffles and sneezes
“Out-of-season” sales of cough-cold and flu products are on the rise. Many stores are merchandising the category early this year to counter a possible “twin-demic” of influenza and COVID-19. Routine respiratory ailments are making a comeback as consumers are becoming less strict with their own protocols. A decrease in handwashing, social distancing and face masking, along with the latest highly contagious COVID-19 strain, are driving the uptick in illnesses and boosting sales in the cough-cold category.
“One of our main goals right now is to educate consumers about the flu and urge them to be prepared for the coming season,” Tefft said. “Our objective is to be where consumers are searching for information, and to provide them with the right information on our products, specifically our flu medicine, Oscillococcinum, when they need it most.”
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The pediatric cough-cold and allergy category is also seeing growth, noted Buzzagogo’s Dales, who said the traditional flu season has morphed into a 12-month event with COVID-19 and shows no signs of slowing down. “The demand for effective solutions is now perpetual,” she said. “Every sneeze and sniffle is cause for alarm and parents are burned out on the worry, so they are looking for products that make them feel empowered in fighting germs.”
Seeing is believing
The eye care category is also experiencing a sales uptick this year as more consumers search for clean, simple and naturally formulated alternatives to address dry eye, red eye and other eye issues.
To answer consumer and retailer demand for health-focused products formulated with real ingredients, TRP recently launched Natural Eyes, a line of homeopathic eye care products. “We believe that safe and effective homeopathic remedies are the preferred way to achieve better health and symptom relief,” Hanson said.
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If it’s one thing the pandemic taught people, it’s that focusing on their health and being vigilant about what one puts in their bodies is key. As such, Yann Pigeaire, vice president of marketing at Highlands Ranch, Colo.-based Similasan, said this is driving more consumers to seek out remedies that contain more natural ingredients, especially when it comes to eye care. “Homeopathic products fit with people’s lifestyle choices and can be helpful to limit their intake of certain ingredients like preservatives,” he said.
The fact that homeopathic products are now broadly available and advertised has also fueled growth. “Generally, homeopathic eye care has been growing nicely this year. We are seeing a rebound in some segments that were slow during the previous two years, such as products addressing pink eye.” Pigeaire said. Within eye care, he noted the stye segment is also seeing healthy dollar gains, growing 8% YTD sales across multiple outlets.
Boiron Arnicare Arthritis Cream
Boiron’s Arnicare Arthritis Cream temporarily relieves minor joint and muscle pain, and stiffness. It is powered by two plant-based pain relievers, arnica montana and harpagophytum. With a cream-gel formula, the quickly absorbed Arnicare Arthritis Cream is suitable for use on all joints and has no known drug interactions. The fragrance-free cream does not contain camphor, menthol or other harsh ingredients that can sting or irritate skin. It can be used on adults and children aged 12 years old and older. Arnicare Arthritis Cream will be available in a 2.5-oz. tube this fall.
The Relief Products Natural Eyes
SRP: $10.99 for .33 fl. oz.
Natural Eyes is a new eye care line from The Relief Products company. The homeopathic product-based formulas use plant and mineral-based ingredients to stimulate the body’s healing response. Natural Eyes products feature 100% natural active ingredients, have no known side effects or interactions, and are safe for adults and children aged 2 years old and older, the company said. The four product sterile eye drop line addresses allergy, pink eye, red eye and dry eye conditions.
Similasan Dry Eye Nighttime Gel
SRP: $10.99 for .33 fl. oz.
Similasan has introduced Dry Eye Nighttime Gel. Building on the success of Similasan Dry Eye Relief, the brand’s new nighttime formula features hyaluronic acid, which is thicker for longer-lasting nighttime relief. It can also be used during daytime for improved relief.
King Bio 911 Stress & Anxiety
SRP: $19.99 for 2 fl. oz.
911 Stress & Anxiety offers temporary relief of nervous tension, minor anxiety, fear, impatience and irritability. This all natural, oral spray with a pure water-based formula provides 300 sprays per bottle.