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12/02/2021

OTC Sales Numbers Reflect Impact of Ongoing Pandemic

New data from Catalina reveals strong categories, brands
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
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OTC Sales Numbers Reflect Impact of Ongoing Pandemic
Catalina's latest findings underscore the need for shopper-based merchandising and marketing strategies.

The global health crisis over the past two years has taken a toll on consumers, reflected in their spending habits on health and wellness products. New research from shopper intelligence firm Catalina shows that certain over the-counter (OTC) categories have experienced strong growth since the onset of the pandemic and consumers are showing an affinity for some brands.

According to Catalina's findings, the cough and cold category posted a 61.8% gain from 2020 to 2021, while nasal sprays and asthma remedies were up 29.4% in that time span. The increases from 2020 to 2021 indicate that the common cold and flu returned this year, compared to the previous mild season attributable to early pandemic restrictions like masking, distancing and lockdowns.

The effect of the pandemic is clear on the segment of immunity-boosting products, which spiked 86.7% from 2019 to 2021 and rose 14.1% from 2020 to 2021. Vitamins as a wellness tool also did well, increasing 9.5% from last year and 31.2% on a two-year basis. The sleep aids category performed strongly, too, an indication that consumers’ worries have spilled over into their sleep health; sleep aids rose 12.9% from 2020 to 2021 and 44.8% from 2019 to 2021.

Catalina's data also revealed insights on brand performances. Although nearly half of consumers have shown disloyalty to their traditional and favorite OTC remedies during the unusual pandemic era, brands including Mucinex, Afrin, Nature Made, Natrol and Icy Hot have continued logging notable sales gains.

Marta Cyhan, chief marketing officer for Catalina, said that the findings underscore the need for shopper-based merchandising and marketing strategies. "It starts with knowing your audience and tailoring your outreach to them with messaging that is both personal and relevant," she remarked.

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