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Plethora of OTC opportunities yet to be realized

BY Michael Johnsen

Maybe it’s the fact that we’re a mile above sea level that’s giving me that air-up-there feeling. But I don’t think so. Because every time I walk a new Marketplace floor, no matter the locale, I get heady with the number of opportunities that have yet to be realized. So why should this year be any different?

The most significant opportunity I see out there doesn’t even involve moving product — not directly at least, not with the number of retailers expanding their pharmacy services and creating additional touch points with their patients. That makes for a significant opportunity among OTC suppliers to create educational tools speaking to the new health-and-wellness ambassadors that are being featured within many Rite Aid and Walgreens stores. They are new healthcare advocates, and the more they know and the more tools they have at their disposal, the richer their interaction with that patient is going to be.

I look at new companies like Backjoy with its good-posture-good-health proposition. If one of those wellness ambassadors is directing a patient toward the internal analgesic set, why not talk about Backjoy along the way? Or maybe take the patient across to the pain-relieving rubs aisle and offer some insight around Hyland’s new Leg Cramps Ointment.

This isn’t a would-you-like-fries-with-that-Tylenol kind of incremental up-sell. It’s an opportunity to improve the patient experience with additional solutions. And it all starts with developing education tools to support those ambassadors. That’s opportunity.

But the proliferation of wellness ambassadors isn’t the only potential opportunity that makes my head swim. If you flip to the cover story in this issue, there’s a SymphonyIRI Group analysis on the $1.3 trillion that Hispanics will be doling out this year. There are plenty of companies on the Marketplace floor who are either marketing directly to that community or who are at least offering both English and Spanish Drug Facts on the labels. But how many of those companies are sourcing actual OTC brands from South America?

Sure, it’s a niche play — if that $1.3 trillion in buying power can be called a niche — and that’s what MarcasUSA is piecing together. Featuring such brands as Conazol Cream, Cicloferon and more recently Syncol, MarcasUSA is sourcing brands familiar with Hispanics and selling them in the U.S. market. More important, there are marketing programs behind those product introductions, too.

Product trends on the show floor include new probiotics targeting kids — i-Health (formerly Amerifit) has the new Culturelle for Kids chewables, and PharmaCare is launching Kids Smart Probiotic Choco Balls.

Then there are the number of companies and brands taking a fresh path toward the marketplace. Akorn, for instance, fields a family of brands addressing eye allergy across its acquired Advanced Vision Research platform. Meda Consumer Healthcare, which most recently recast its Feosol brand, now is focused on reinvigorating its Contac cough-cold franchise. And Prestige Brands will be infusing fresh marketing against its entire portfolio, especially across analgesics (e.g., BC, Goody’s and Ecotrin), cough-cold (e.g., Little Remedies, Chloraseptic and PediaCare) and digestives (e.g., Beano, Dramamine and Fiber Choice).

What new opportunities did you find interesting? What OTC product trends are you excited about? Let me know your thoughts! Drop a line to mjohnsen@lf.com or comment below.

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Hispanic shoppers present a burgeoning opportunity

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO — Products and services targeting the Hispanic market will realize much success in the coming years, noted a recently published SymphonyIRI Group “Point of View” report that outlined the growing opportunity in targeting that demographic.

And this rapidly growing group is expected to wield $1.3 trillion in purchasing power through the end of this year.
Hispanics, as a group, spend nearly 8% more on consumer packaged goods than any other population, and have particularly strong spending in the mass merchandise and club channels, the report noted.

Hispanics spend 20% and 36% more in club and mass merchandise outlets, respectively, than the general population. In the supercenter channel, however, Hispanic and non-Hispanic spending per trip is about the same. Hispanics spend less per trip in other CPG outlets than non-Hispanic shoppers.

Hispanic spending growth is strongest in dollar and club channels.

Hispanic shoppers, like any shopper in the current economic climate, are attracted to value and make channel decisions heavily based on price and proximity to their home. But Hispanic shoppers also are more brand-loyal than the overall population, and gravitate toward those retailers who actively engage them in their native dialect, such as through store signage or bilingual customer service representatives. Shelves stocked with products and brands from their countries of origin also are key store selection criteria.

“Establishing and building strong brand relationships with these shoppers early in the acculturation process is key,” the report noted. “With more than three-quarters of unacculturated Hispanics preferring to consistently purchase the same brands, investing the time, money and effort necessary to break into the Hispanic shopping basket … often will provide long-standing rewards.”

Another factor to consider, according to the report: “Hispanic families often shop as families, and that means children tend to have a particularly strong influence on purchasing decisions.”

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What role can your brand play in drug stores’ future?

BY Rob Eder

A mile high here at NACDS Marketplace 2012, spirits are riding about as high. All things considered, this is a pretty good time to be in the drug store business.

Pharmacy dollars and scripts are ahead of the overall trend, and on the front-end, dollars and trips are up considerably as consumers are trading trips to the big boxes for more quick trips to the drug store.

There is no denying the role that fresh food is playing in all of this, but in general, drug stores have done a good job of giving consumers one more reason to shop their stores. And that’s going to mean more and more in the future, when the drug store will have to be known for something more than just a place to fill a script.

The drug store of the future will be a place that fills specific and pronounced needs for local shoppers — more food in food deserts; more beauty in high-fashion areas; stores segmented for Hispanic communities, seniors, high-income and low-income. It also will be a place where customers come for unique services; where specially trained health and beauty advisers help shoppers navigate the store and identify new product needs; and where brands help the retailers create a unique experience that shoppers can only get there.

What role can your brand play?

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