The upper respiratory self care market is crowded with many brands, ingredients, claims, and offers. Walking down the cold and allergy aisles of retail stores can make consumers dizzy from the assortment and sheer number of products on shelves, each making similar but not exactly the same claims. This makes the cold and allergy aisle a complex section for consumers to navigate. Much of this complexity is rooted in the fact that colds, the flu, and allergies all affect the upper respiratory system—yet each condition has symptoms that set it apart, as well as symptoms that overlap with each other.
Colds and the flu are caused by different viruses, and in general, the symptoms associated with the flu are more severe. However, both illnesses can lead to runny, stuffy nose, congestion, cough, and sore throat. The flu can also cause fever, headaches, fatigue, and aches/pains. On the other hand, allergies are not caused by a virus, but rather by allergens, which are something the body is allergic to. The same runny, stuffy nose can result, but unlike a cold or the flu, so can itchy, watery eyes. To complicate the buying process further, products in this class contain many different active ingredients, which cover a range of indications, yet often the key brands contain some or all of the same ingredients.
The market performance of all segments of the OTC upper respiratory products market, including cold and sinus medications, allergy relief products, cough drops and sore throat remedies, cough syrups, and nasal and topical decongestants, post sales growth in 2014, finds Kline’s recently published Nonprescription Drugs USA report. The allergy category experiences the strongest growth behind new product launches of Nasacort Allergy 24 Hour (Sanofi), Mucinex Allergy (Reckitt Benckiser), and QlearQuil (Procter & Gamble) last year. In 2015, the market launch of Flonase Allergy Relief (GlaxoSmithKline) and approval of a third intranasal corticosteroid brand to enter the market via Rx-to-OTC switch, Rhinocort Allergy Spray by Johnson & Johnson, are expected to stimulate more sales gains for the allergy market in the coming years.
In the cold and sinus category, the continued return of brands recalled over the last four years, including Tylenol Cold, Benadryl, and Sudafed PE from Johnson & Johnson, and Novartis brands Theraflu and Triaminic, fuel overall sales growth in the respective categories.
Private-label products remain a significant factor within the upper respiratory category, particularly among price-savvy consumers. However, the improving economy, along with continued strong branded promotion by the leading manufacturers in 2014, yields slowing growth rates among private-label products, as compared to previous years.
Learn more about the OTC upper respiratory products market from Kline’s Nonprescription Drugs USA study, a comprehensive analysis of the OTC market, including key trends, developments, challenges, business opportunities, new product activity, brand sales and shares, retail distribution, regulatory developments, and five-year sales forecasts across 31 major product categories in the United States.