Q&A: How consumer trends are driving immunity boom

Consumers are no longer satisfied to get sick and suffer through an illness. The opportunity in the immunity space hasn’t been lost on Pharmacare US, whose Sambucol Black Elderberry products have become a well-known name in the immune support category. As consumers focus on their immune systems, they also are increasingly conscious of what type of products they are ingesting. 

To get a sense of what is driving the brand’s growth, how the company is navigating the pandemic, and what the future holds, Drug Store News spoke to vice president of marketing Art Rowe-Cerveny. 

Drug Store News: Tell us what you see happening right now in the mass retail industry in regards to the pandemic. 
Art Rowe-Cerveny: The mass rush of panic buying being over, consumers are having to evaluate what shopping means. So many behaviors have been forced to change, from less trips to all the different online mechanisms — click to brick, grocery delivery, etc. 

It is hard to know what will ever go back to any sense of normal and what will become the new normal.

DSN: What has Pharmacare developed in terms of merchandising, marketing or new products to help?
ARC: We’ve recently introduced our Elderberry Immune Drink Powder, which provides an easy way for people to get truly efficacious amounts of elderberry, with one serving providing the equivalent of 5.4 g of elderberry. 

Given the way people are going to have to look to take care of themselves in the coming months, and into the next cough-cold season, this provides an easy and great tasting way to add immune support to your daily regimen.

DSN: Your Sambucol brand has experienced tremendous growth over the last few months. Why is this happening?
ARC: Obviously, people are more aware than ever of the need to keep your immune system in good shape, but they are also more concerned with what they are taking, and are putting more significance on resisting putting unnecessary medicines in their bodies. Sambucol Black Elderberry is a natural way to help support the immune system, using only the best of what nature has to offer. Utilizing premium elderberries grown in a specific region in Europe, where they have been cultivated for their deep purple color, Sambucol provides high anthocyanin and polyphenol content in great-tasting formats.

DSN: What should retailers do to maximize sales and provide their customers with the best results?
ARC: It is easy to try and jump on the bandwagon, seeing the growth we’ve had, but retailers need to know that not all elderberries are created equal. They need to make sure they are providing products, utilizing the right kind of elderberry in the right amounts. It takes a lot of elderberry to be effective! What we don’t want happening is a consumer coming in and finding a product with a less than appropriate amount of elderberry or worse, something that is “flavored with elderberry” for a label claim, and not seeing any benefit, and then we lose that customer from the category forever.

DSN: What does the future hold?
ARC: Not discounting the COVID-19 pandemic at all, but the future holds a lot of promise. We believe that elderberry will provide incremental growth to the immune category for the foreseeable future. Ultimately, we believe that elderberry will rival the branded vitamin C market in size, with Sambucol as a trusted brand leader.