Sales of O-T-C cough cold remedies climb

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on May 13 that people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no longer need to wear face masks in most indoor settings, there has been a strong, subsequent sales uptick for over-the-counter (O-T-C) medicines designed to treat such maladies as colds, coughs and allergies.

Per the CDC, the 2020-21 flu season was virtually non-existent, largely due to so many people sheltering at home and, when they did go out in public, wearing face masks, social distancing, and washing hands frequently. This behavior has also been credited for cutting down on the number of people suffering from more commonly transmitted colds and coughs over the past year.

Now that face masks are coming off, these easily spread ailments are back on the rise among adults and children, per data pulled from Catalina’s Buyer Intelligence Database, which captures up to three years of purchase history across the U.S. and more than two billion Universal Product Codes.

In looking at same store dollar sales nationwide for the four weeks ending June 12, 2021, cough and cold remedies for children shot up 564% compared to the same period in 2020, when the rise in home schooling likely helped prevent kids in different households from infecting one another. The Hyland’s brand saw the biggest percentage increase, rising 773%, and Mucinex rose 759%. Meanwhile, sales of children’s analgesics climbed 78 percent during that same timeframe, with Motrin up 96% and Tylenol up 76%.

Adults are also back to arming themselves for the fight against coughs and colds, with vaporizer sales up 151%, cough & cold remedies up 80% and cough & throat drops/lozenges up 48% compared to the same four-week period in 2020. Top performing brands include Vaposhower, up 216%, and Vick’s, up 189%, in the vaporizer category; Vick’s up 249% and Zarbee’s up 217% in the cough & cold remedies category; and Vapocool up 143% and Cepacol up 115% in the cough & throat drops category.

Meanwhile, allergy sufferers who are back to spending more time outdoors have been buying more OTC remedies this year than they did last. The allergy/sinus relief category is up 19% overall, with Mucinex sales surging 151% and Sudafed up 116%.

Finally, with the CDC reporting that more than 65% of adults in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose as of 6/20/21, and with mask mandates mostly lifted, more people are now venturing more places without a face mask. As a result, sales in the home health testing category, which includes face masks, dropped 62% over the four weeks ending June 12 compared to the same period in 2020.

“In addition to knowing what products are being bought, Catalina is able to look at 38+ years of deterministic data to determine the type of audiences most likely to put specific brands in their baskets,” said Catalina Chief Marketing Officer Marta Cyhan. “For the retailers and O-T-C brands we serve, we are able to build custom audience segments and tap into more than 700 pre-built, syndicated audience segments to effectively reach potential buyers–ranging from category loyalists seeking symptom relief to Immune Booster Seekers more interested in preventive measures –with promotional messages and coupons to trigger purchases.”



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