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Plethora of OTC opportunities yet to be realized

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Maybe it’s the fact that we’re a mile above sea level that’s giving me that air-up-there feeling. But I don’t think so. Because every time I walk a new Marketplace floor, no matter the locale, I get heady with the number of opportunities that have yet to be realized. So why should this year be any different?

The most significant opportunity I see out there doesn’t even involve moving product — not directly at least, not with the number of retailers expanding their pharmacy services and creating additional touch points with their patients. That makes for a significant opportunity among OTC suppliers to create educational tools speaking to the new health-and-wellness ambassadors that are being featured within many Rite Aid and Walgreens stores. They are new healthcare advocates, and the more they know and the more tools they have at their disposal, the richer their interaction with that patient is going to be.

I look at new companies like Backjoy with its good-posture-good-health proposition. If one of those wellness ambassadors is directing a patient toward the internal analgesic set, why not talk about Backjoy along the way? Or maybe take the patient across to the pain-relieving rubs aisle and offer some insight around Hyland’s new Leg Cramps Ointment.

This isn’t a would-you-like-fries-with-that-Tylenol kind of incremental up-sell. It’s an opportunity to improve the patient experience with additional solutions. And it all starts with developing education tools to support those ambassadors. That’s opportunity.

But the proliferation of wellness ambassadors isn’t the only potential opportunity that makes my head swim. If you flip to the cover story in this issue, there’s a SymphonyIRI Group analysis on the $1.3 trillion that Hispanics will be doling out this year. There are plenty of companies on the Marketplace floor who are either marketing directly to that community or who are at least offering both English and Spanish Drug Facts on the labels. But how many of those companies are sourcing actual OTC brands from South America?

Sure, it’s a niche play — if that $1.3 trillion in buying power can be called a niche — and that’s what MarcasUSA is piecing together. Featuring such brands as Conazol Cream, Cicloferon and more recently Syncol, MarcasUSA is sourcing brands familiar with Hispanics and selling them in the U.S. market. More important, there are marketing programs behind those product introductions, too.

Product trends on the show floor include new probiotics targeting kids — i-Health (formerly Amerifit) has the new Culturelle for Kids chewables, and PharmaCare is launching Kids Smart Probiotic Choco Balls.

Then there are the number of companies and brands taking a fresh path toward the marketplace. Akorn, for instance, fields a family of brands addressing eye allergy across its acquired Advanced Vision Research platform. Meda Consumer Healthcare, which most recently recast its Feosol brand, now is focused on reinvigorating its Contac cough-cold franchise. And Prestige Brands will be infusing fresh marketing against its entire portfolio, especially across analgesics (e.g., BC, Goody’s and Ecotrin), cough-cold (e.g., Little Remedies, Chloraseptic and PediaCare) and digestives (e.g., Beano, Dramamine and Fiber Choice).

What new opportunities did you find interesting? What OTC product trends are you excited about? Let me know your thoughts! Drop a line to mjohnsen@lf.com or comment below.

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