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Sniffle season is here

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CC-Halls-SnapshotCanadian consumers increasingly are using their local convenience store as a destination to pick up their favourite brand of cough and cold medication, throat lozenges and sprays.

Figures from Nielsen Canada show that the sale of throat lozenges, cough drops, cold and cough remedies and throat sprays amounted to $19,015,898 for the 52 weeks ending May 26, 2018. Sales of throat lozenges were $16,245,000, cough remedies rose three per cent to $957,184 during the same period, cold remedies six per cent to $1,799,733 and throat sprays 39 per cent to $13,931.

“Customers looking to clear up nasal congestions or combat a cold truly appreciate the ease of purchasing relief from their corner store,” says Roberta Dalton, sales and marketing coordinator with TFB & Associates. “While the growth of cough drops in the Convenience and Gas channel is smaller than growth in the Grocery, Drug and Mass Merchandise channel, it is in fact larger than the General Merchandise and Wholesale Club channel, which declined one per cent versus a year ago.” (Source: Nielsen MarketTrack; NATIONAL EXCL NEWFOUNDLAND C&G – 52 Weeks to Period Ending Date ending 26MAY18_4, All By Key Account TL EVDAY COUGH EXCL BUCKLEYS [INCL FISHERMAN’S FRIEND AND EXCEL]; Volume Basis = Sales Units.)

The cough segment is experiencing consistent and robust year-over-year growth. “We are excited about the potential for growth of the cough drop category,” says Warren Crowder, president and country manager of Ricola Canada. “People naturally use the item for many purposes in addition to relieving their cough and cold systems – things like breath freshening, allergy symptom relief, voice care and other reasons. All of these are areas we plan to investigate in the future to unlock incremental growth.”

Halls is seen as the leading brand in the cough drop market in the convenience and gas channel followed by Fishermen’s Friend lozenges, with cherry and honey-lemon standing out as the key popular flavours in both brands. “With cough and sore throat as well as vitamin C supplement solution for kids, Halls’ Kids Pops, launched in 2017, enabled the Halls brand to successfully enter the pediatric category,” says Echo Ho, HALLS Brand Equity.

Even with Halls’ position as market leader, growth in this segment is being driven by Fishermen’s Friend lozenges, which outpaced category growth, increased by seven per cent in dollar sales and five per cent in unit sales. Besides flavours, consumers also are trending toward natural and milder solutions made with real ingredients. “Making sure your store offers key brands in flavours consumers love is a great way to ensure that your sales grow along with the category,” Dalton says.

Almost 65 per cent of cough sales occur from September through March. During the 2017-18 cough and cold season sickness levels in Canada were unprecedented, up 9.4 per cent from the previous year, with reported symptoms for cough up 6.1 per cent and sore throats up 21 per cent. (Source: IQVIA: FAN Canada Weekly Report PE Mar 16, 2018.)

“This trend will continue where sickness levels are up and the duration of sickness is longer,” Ho says. “Retailers should ensure products in this segment have a front-of-store presence because consumers will be looking for them during their visit. In the height of the season also offer larger formats for cough solutions.”

Since many purchases in convenience stores are made on impulse, c-retailers have a great opportunity to influence consumers’ purchase decisions. “In-store ads can do just that,” says Dalton. “Making sure your product assortment is in line with the season is critically important, especially in Canada. You don’t want to lose out on potential sales so make sure you have an ample stock of items you know are coming into season.”

Having the right variety of products is crucial to success in the category. “Bring in brands and items that will convert existing traffic into new category buyers,” Crowder says. “We are conducting assortment studies to identify white space for unmet consumer benefits within the category. We see a lot of value in this for our retail partners to leverage these new benefits to grow the category. Most people actually do not treat their cough and colds, so there is a lot of opportunity to bring solutions that encourage consumers to treat their symptoms, and boost sales.”

Cough and cold tips:

Stock popular brands and flavour selections.

Offer larger formats for solutions in the height of sickness season between September and March.

Make sure your product assortment and stock levels are in line with the season.

Create solutions to help customers treat their cough and cold symptoms – and boost sales in the process.