Q&A: Boiron’s Petrick discusses the company’s homeopath to success

Ray Petrick, vice president of sales at Boiron USA, said that homeopathic products are booming during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an interview with Drug Store News, he said that retailers can continue to build sales and profits in the self-care category by properly merchandising and promoting the section.

Ray Petrick

Drug Store News: The homeopathic remedies category has fared well during the pandemic. Why do you think that is?  
Ray Petrick: The homeopathic category has seen significant increases during the COVID event in the first quarter. Driving this increase has been pantry loading and increased consumer awareness. Consumers have learned homeopathic products address such issues as upper respiratory, sore throat, pain, sleep and digestive naturally, safe and effectively. As consumers found themselves unable to move about the world as normal, keeping their medicine cabinets stocked with homeopathic medicines became even more important. Additionally, as certain states have recently had increased incidence levels — Texas, Arizona, Florida — we have also seen a significant increase in sales in those states. 

DSN: Is it a trend that will continue after the COVID-19 pandemic?       
RP: With self-care as a first defense versus seeing a doctor. Consumers have learned they need to be prepared and will continue to utilize homeopathic medicines as part of their self-care and care for the entire family. Homeopathic medicines address issues that affect every age and can be used along with other OTCs and prescriptions. One of the categories that has grown during the pandemic is sleep and stress. Boiron’s new SleepCalm, launching this month, is a melatonin-free alternative to help consumers fall asleep and stay asleep without next-day grogginess and without risk of drug interactions. 

DSN: What do retailers need to do to build sales in the category now? 
RP: All retailers, pharmacies, food, mass retailers and natural products stores have become essential for helping consumers get through this crisis by providing life’s everyday essentials, such as food, OTC medicines and health-and-wellness products. From a category perspective, homeopathic products should not be segregated out by themselves as retailers will miss the opportunity to build a bigger market basket. 

The homeopathic market basket has twice the dollar value as a conventional OTC market basket. Retailers should merchandise homeopathic medicines within the conventional OTC categories — pain, cough and cold, etc. Research shows when given a choice, consumers will purchase a “better for you” medicine versus a conventional OTC. 

Also, strategically, retailers should lean in on education of homeopathic and natural products for their pharmacists, pharmacy techs and team members. Historically, the pharmacy and the “front of the store” don’t interact much. This is a big opportunity for retailers to build not only the market basket, but also trust with their consumers. Boiron’s pharmacy education and medical teams educate thousands of pharmacists, techs and doctors every year virtually and can be done according to their schedule.

DSN: What is Boiron doing to help out in terms of merchandising and marketing?   
RP: Boiron focuses on educating both retailers and consumers about the benefits of homeopathic medicines in order to create awareness and trial. Our Boiron Homeopathic Medicine Finder is a free app that consumers can use to find the right medicine for whatever issue they may have. We also use digital tactics to reach specific target audiences. These tactics include product search, Facebook and YouTube. Boiron also provides in-store materials for retailers to help promote the benefits of homeopathy. 

DSN: What does the future look like for the category?  
RP: The future of the homeopathic category is very exciting. Consumers recognize the need for safety and efficacy in self-care. Homeopathic medicines are both safe and effective. 

As Boiron enters into many different categories, consumers will have the option of homeopathic medicines in categories such as digestive health, sleep/stress and feminine hygiene. Historically, there have not been homeopathic options in many of these categories.