Consumers stock up prior to cold, flu season


Immunity boosters and hand sanitizer are on most shopping lists as consumers prepare their families for the inevitable sniffles, sneezes and coughs associated with the cold and flu season. As many as 53.5% of shoppers are placing hand sanitizer into that pre-season basket, according to a survey conducted by Field Agent on behalf of Drug Store News, and 50.3% are stocking up on immunity boosting supplements.

More than taking precautions to fend off a cold, however, consumers are preparing for the worst — 74% buy OTC medicines in advance of the cold and flu season. While some respondents will wait to buy remedies only when needed, the majority of consumers (68%) always keep cough-cold remedies on hand.

When someone in the household does get sick, the overwhelming majority of consumers (90%) clean and disinfect more often in an effort to contain the virus. It’s a good thing, too, as only 34.8% quarantine the sick person in an effort to prevent the cold from spreading. Half of respondents also stock up on hand sanitizer and/or take immunity boosters at the first sign that someone is coming down with a cold.

Most families (64%) suffer on average two to four colds per year. In response, even more families (78.5%) are buying the same — between two and four cough-cold products per year.

Respondents shop the cough-cold aisle primarily by symptom (71%). Brand (17%), ingredient (8%) and price (5%) are far less important to shoppers.

Dayquil/Nyquil is the leading brand for treating cough-cold symptoms (72%), followed by Mucinex (49.5%) and Tylenol Cold (48%).

The survey of 400 respondents was conducted Jan. 27 by Field Agent, which provides business information and consumer insights by leveraging traditional methodologies and incorporating new, cutting-edge crowd-sourcing and mobile technologies to deliver real-time information about purchasing behavior and attitudes. To learn more about Field Agent, visit

To view the full OTC Trends Report, click here.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds