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Competition for seasonal sales heats up

BY DSN STAFF

The drug channel could be losing its edge in seasonal sales. GMDC’s recently released “Seasonal Best Practices” report revealed that, according to Nielsen data for the 52 weeks ended Oct. 26, 2013, while drug store seasonal merchandise dollar sales are slightly ahead of supermarkets, the channel’s sales have slipped 16%.

Seasonal dollar sales at the drug channel, according to the report, were down for Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Easter, but were slightly ahead for summer seasonal promotions.

GMDC’s part one of a report on seasonal sales could serve as a wake-up call for a channel that has traditionally done very well with seasonal merchandise. Other channels are turning up the heat and grabbing share.

In its report, Robin Gutridge, category manager of seasonal, home decor and social expressions at Raley’s said: “We’ve grown our GM seasonal business by 45% over the past three years. Our CEO, family stakeholders and the SVP over our 119 stores all support GM seasonal.”

Yet drug store retailers willing to make a commitment to seasonal sales can win back consumers with strategic programs that are well-executed.

“The better retailers plan, execute and collaborate with suppliers, the better stores perform,” GMDC’s report said. The report said that chains, realizing they can’t be all things to all consumers, must decide what role their stores play in consumers’ holiday shopping and create a strategy that plays to those strengths.

When defining a role, the report said, “destination” is “the most aggressive, where shoppers could meet all their needs for a season.” GMDC’s report said that while retailers can’t feasibly aim to be a destination for every season, less intense roles can still be profitable. Roles can be identified as “routine,” where a retailer’s assortment is ample for shoppers already in the store, and “convenience,” where modest, basic merchandise offerings could fill a quick need, the report said.

Some best practices GMDC identified were displaying unique items early to spark impulse purchasing, taking markdowns in a controlled manner, and using category management scorecards and metrics to demonstrate the value of seasonal departments to decision-makers.

The report stressed the importance of a speedy and accurate review of what works and what doesn’t following each season so chains can re-plan rather than start from scratch each time. “The quicker and keener they review and analyze results, the stronger success prospects will be the following year,” the report said of retailer performance.

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Extended season drives sales

BY Michael Johnsen

With the ragweed season getting longer and longer, according to government reports, allergy has become a significant driver behind trips to the eye care aisle, and represents a much broader potential patient base. In response to rising temperatures, ragweed pollen season length increased between 1995 and 2011 by as much as 11 days (to 27 days) in parts of the United States and Canada.

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

According to a Vistakon online survey, more than 2-in-5 consumers suffer from mild to moderate eye allergy symptoms on a daily basis.

The eye care aisle may not be the only place for eye allergy solution sales. There is an opportunity to generate incrementality by placing eye allergy products in-line with allergy remedies, suggested Yann Pigeaire, director of marketing at Similasan. “Some of the bigger merchants are dual merchandising some of the eye drop products in the allergy section,” he said.

Similasan recently introduced a $10 million campaign supporting its eye allergy business, Pigeaire said, featuring a strong television component. There are two commercials, a 10-second and 15-second spot, that will be running across daytime cable, Pigeaire said. “Something like this is a good way to [generate] high awareness in a relatively short period of time,” he said.

In addition to the TV campaign, Similasan has begun phasing in new packaging across its line to help generate awareness. “The eye products will be rolling out in the summer with packaging that’s more contemporary … and easier to find on shelf,” he said.

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Need state significant

BY Michael Johnsen

The need state for allergy remedies is significant, according to documents filed by Merck recently in support of its application to switch Singulair. Allergies represent the fifth most-common chronic disease in the United States, impacting 1-in-5 Americans. As many as 90% of allergy sufferers self-treat their condition, and 58% only use an OTC or herbal remedy to relieve their allergy symptoms.

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

As many as 40% of allergy sufferers report moderate to severe symptoms, and 38% report those symptoms are intolerable. Of those who report moderate to severe symptoms, for more than 90% that means curtailing daily activities, and for 80% it means having a difficult time getting to sleep.

Allergic rhinitis accounts for 10 million missed or lost workdays per year. Also each year, allergies account for more than 17 million outpatient office visits, primarily in the spring and fall; seasonal allergies account for more than half of all allergy visits.

The annual cost of allergies is estimated to be nearly $14.5 billion, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Nearly 85% ($12.3 billion) is for direct costs, including $1.3 billion for doctor office visits and $11 billion for medications ($7 billion prescription, $4 billion OTC).

Approximately 40 million Americans have indoor-outdoor allergies as their primary allergy — many people with allergies usually have more than one type of allergy. Approximately 10 million people are allergic to cat dander, the most common pet allergy. The most common indoor-outdoor allergy triggers are tree, grass and weed pollen; mold spores; dust mite and cockroach allergen; and cat, dog and rodent dander.

Approximately 4% of allergy sufferers have eye allergies as their primary allergy, often caused by many of the same triggers as indoor-outdoor allergies.

To help target this group, OTC eye care company Alcon last fall regrouped its eye-allergy products into one easy-to-shop solution. The eyeSolution portfolio includes Clear Care Solution for contact lens wearers, ICaps Eye Vitamins, Naphcon-A Eye Allergy Drops, Opti-Free, Systane and Zaditor Eye Allergy Drops.

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