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Sales of heat, ice packs chilly

BY Michael Johnsen

While sales of heat and ice packs are relatively flat — the category generated slight growth of 0.2% to $235.9 million for the 52 weeks ended April 20 across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI — there has been some positive momentum within the category.

HeatMax’s hand-warming Hothands product has collectively garnered $29.9 million in sales (up 32.1%), claiming the No. 2 spot in the category. No. 1 within the heat and ice pack category is Pfizer’s ThermaCare brand, which generated $59.4 million (down 4.5%).

TheraPearl is another brand to watch. Recently acquired by Performance Health, TheraPearl generated $5.6 million in sales on growth of 55.3%. “TheraPearl brings proven strength and additional scale to our emerging retail business,” said Marshall Dahneke, president and CEO of Performance Health. “The alignment for us is both natural and exciting.”

Also on the horizon is Arctic Ease, bringing to market a cold compress wrap that stays on while active and doesn’t require refrigeration. “Unlike other treatments where 20 minutes more or less is what you’re going to get out of something frozen, this can last up to two hours,” Peter Costello, president and COO of the company, said. “So you’re getting long-lasting relief.”

Arctic Ease recently announced a three-year partnership with Ironman, where the product will be integrated into the Ironman North American triathlon series.

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Bandage, tape remain stable

BY Michael Johnsen

The first-aid tape and bandage business is a relatively stable category without a lot of dramatic sales swings. For the 52 weeks ended April 20, sales of first-aid tape and bandages were up 1.3% to $772.5 million across total U.S. multi-outlets, according to IRI. Johnson & Johnson, principally with its Band Aid brand, drives the category with $339.1 million in sales (up 1.1%), followed by 3M and its Curad brand with vendor sales of $70.3 million (0% growth). Sandwiched between the two first-aid giants is private label, which generated $256.8 million in sales (up 5.3%).

There is a company that’s come onto the scene in the past two years looking to drive some foot traffic into the first-aid set that goes beyond buying bandages and tape for minor cuts and scrapes. KT Health, with its KT Tape, is attempting to recreate the Breathe Right phenomena with endorsements by such Olympic athletes as three-time gold medalist and champion volleyball player Kerri Walsh. Breathe Right, a product that opens the nasal passages, became a success after San Francisco 49er’s Jerry Rice wore the nasal strip during a football game in the late 1990s.

KT Health most recently announced it was the official Kinesiology Tape of USA Soccer. “It is an aspirational brand,” John MacKay, KT Health president, told Drug Store News, explaining why athlete endorsements were important. “But it’s applicable for the person who develops tendinitis [from] painting their house … [who finds that when] they throw a strip of tape on, there is an immediate pain-relieving effect and therapeutic effect that gives them accelerated recovery.”

“It treats such a variety of conditions that the challenge then is to educate people on the multiple applications and how to use it. … We have 50 instructional videos on our website,” MacKay said.

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Segment sales spike for summer

BY Michael Johnsen

The same weather factors that are boosting allergy sales as the allergy season is extended may be having a substantial impact on the sales of anti-itch ointments, up 10% to $528.2 million across U.S. multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ended April 20, according to IRI, and insect bite treatments, which totaled $13.6 million and were up 19.4% over the same period.

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

“We’ve found that poison ivy is greatly affected by weather patterns. Over the last couple of years, spring has been late, cold and wet,” said Lisa Leverich, director marketing at Tec Laboratories. “A wet spring makes for a later, [more lush] poison ivy season. However, July is usually the peak month for poison ivy.”

Rising temperatures and an increase in rainfall throughout much of the country also help boost mosquito and tick populations, according to the National Pest Management Association.

Another factor driving anti-itch is the CrossFit trend, Leverich added. “With the CrossFit trend exploding across the country, people are getting down and dirty in the elements. Warrior and mudder competitions also are hot beds for brushing up against poison ivy.”

Weather has less of an impact on other first-aid categories, such as accessories and bandages, though summertime does see a sales spike in these categories as more and more people venture into the outdoors. And though sales of actual first-aid kits were down 4.6% to $47.2 million across U.S. multi-outlets for the 52 weeks ended April 20, such first-aid kit marketers as Johnson & Johnson have identified an opportunity to build incremental sales through its concept “Build Your Own First Aid Kit,” whereby consumers fill a first-aid kit with J&J branded first-aid merchandise. The concept first was introduced through Target in 2009, but it has expanded to other retailers after successfully increasing the first-aid market basket size.

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