While the summer holidays are just starting and we are eagerly awaiting the best of the British summer, it might seem unusual to discuss winter medicines at this time. However, being prepared is essential, and it's never too early to have a well-thought-out plan.
The winter meds market holds a significant value of around £1bn in the total UK market1, making it a lucrative opportunity worth considering. Shoppers commonly seek remedies for cold and flu symptoms, coughs, sore throats, congestion, and sinus discomfort, and there are various remedies available to assist them.
The overall over-the-counter (OTC) medicines category is experiencing strong year-on-year growth, partially attributed to the comparison with the longer-term residual impact of the pandemic, which saw limited spread of day-to-day illnesses due to lockdowns. With GP appointments under pressure, more people are turning to self-treatment with OTC remedies, contributing to the overall category growth.
Brand loyalty plays a crucial role in the medicines market, as shoppers trust established brands to provide effective solutions. Unlike other grocery categories, where consumers might opt for cheaper private-label products, shoppers are less likely to do so with medicines. Branded healthcare products are growing at a rate of +3.6%, while private-label products are experiencing a decline of -4.6%.2
Sales of winter medicines naturally peak during colder weather in the winter months. However, stocking these products all year round is important, as coughs, colds, and flu are not exclusive to winter. Sales volumes tend to increase in autumn and remain high throughout the winter season.
If you’re a convenience retailer, you can head to CoreRange.com to see all the products you should be stocking in your store. The website gives you lots of insight into shopper behaviours and category trends, so it’s well worth a visit. That said, if you want a quick peek at our must-stock SKU list, it is:
- Lemsip Max Cold & Flu capsules 16s
- Lemsip Max Cold & Flu Lemon sachets 5s
- Benylin Chesty Cough Syrup Non-Drowsy 150ml
- Vicks Vaporub 50g
- Sudafed Nasal Spray 15ml
- Strepsils Honey & Lemon Lozenges 16s
- Strepsils Extra Triple Action Blackcurrant 24s
- Calpol Infant Oral Suspension Sugar-Free 100ml
- Calpol 6 Plus Sugar Free 80ml
- Nurofen for Children Strawberry 100ml
- …plus a good supply of adult pain remedies (paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin), including Nurofen, Anadin, and Panadol alongside tertiary-branded options (e.g. Galpharm)
Visibility within the store is crucial, as shoppers often make impulse purchases. Ideally, medicines should be displayed on the main shop floor rather than behind the counter to make them easily accessible. If displaying them on the shop floor is impossible, ensure they are prominently visible behind the till, with prices clearly displayed. POS materials can guide shoppers to the correct location if needed.
Convenience stores are seen by shoppers as an essential local service, and interaction with store staff is important for many. The ability to confidently answer basic questions about key products, for example, the difference between chesty cough and tickly cough remedies, is likely to be helpful to shoppers and therefore improve shopper loyalty. That said, it’s also important that more complicated questions are signposted to medical experts.
For retailers seeking to enhance their sales, CoreRange.com offers a wealth of information, including impartial product range recommendations based on the latest market data and shopper insights. The website is free to use, requiring no sign-up or login, and covers various categories, such as laundry, household, healthcare, personal care, and baby care.
2: Kantar TLHC Healthcare 12we 25th Dec 2022 (Kantar P13)