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Homeopathy spells opportunity

NEW YORK —Health and wellness is no longer a niche market dominated by a small group of consumers who populate the checkout lines at specialty natural grocery retailers. According to a recent Hartman Group study titled “Reimagining Health + Wellness 2010,” 54% of all consumers have tweaked what they have traditionally thought of as health and wellness. And younger consumers are more likely to have made changes to their thinking in the past year. That spells opportunity for products that have always held a slant toward healthier lifestyles in mass outlets, specifically homeopathic medicines.

A separate Hartman Group study released earlier this year, commissioned by homeopathic manufacturer Boiron USA, found that it’s that younger demographic that may be perusing nonprescription aisles for better-for-you medicines. “The research…shows that shoppers most often purchase natural [over-the-counter] products in nontraditional channels,” Ludovic Rassat, Boiron USA president and CEO, told Drug Store News earlier this year. “In the study, shoppers were asked what’s the most important purchasing factor besides price/value. ‘Easily being able to find the product where I shop’ ranked second only to effectiveness. This creates an opportunity for those retailers to expand their health-and-wellness offerings,” he said. “It’s a long-term change that reflects how consumers view their lives and the products they purchase. While 27% of shoppers have successfully used a natural/alternative OTC medicine in the past, 55% have not but are interested in trying.”

“First-time consumers are not always seeking a homeopathic medicine intentionally, but rather are finding it as an option within a category,” noted Hyland’s president Dale Nepsa. “The safety aspect, and the fact that [those medicines are] 100% natural, often drives the selection of a homeopathic option. It is after their first successful trial with homeopathic medicines that they begin to educate themselves more on the category itself.”

Consumers in search of healthier medicines may not be the only driver of homeopathy-style solutions, added Ted Karkus, chairman and CEO of ProPhase Labs. “On a marketing and messaging level, ‘natural’ remedies are benefiting from the overall green marketing movement in this country. Additionally, the economic situation has broadened the consumer base for the mass retailer. More higher-income knowledge-seekers, who traditionally are interested in homeopathy, are choosing to shop at mass retail,” he said. “And finally, thanks to broader media coverage, increased information online and increased interest among doctors and pharmacists, all consumers are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about the value and efficacy of homeopathic remedies.

According to the Boiron consumer study, 82% of shoppers are attempting to limit their overall usage of traditional OTC products. A sizable number of shoppers consider purity/healthfulness (42%) and lack of chemicals/irritants (31%) to be important factors in choosing OTC products.

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