Sleep? What’s that?
As consumers look for a way to get a decent night’s sleep before, during and after the coronavirus crisis, retail industry officials said they increasingly are turning to in-store solutions to help them catch an extra 40 winks.
According to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, for the 52 weeks ending March 22, sales of sleeping remedies totaled nearly $1.04 billion in total U.S. outlet (grocery, drug, mass market, military and select club and dollar stores), an increase of 17.9% compared with the same period the previous year. The average price per unit was $7.80, up 52 cents. Also according to IRI, sales of sleeping aid tablets increased 19.1% to nearly $874.7 million, and sales of sleeping aid liquids increased 12.1% to $163.9 million.
Now with the pandemic, many think the category is ripe for future growth. “With the state of the national pandemic, there is a greater level of stress, anxiety and depression, and consumers are looking for natural alternatives to help aid in restful sleep, relaxation and reduction in anxiety,” said Jon Romanow, director of marketing at Pleasant Prairie, Wis.-based Quest Products. “The pandemic is stimulating more consumer demand for these products and, thus, the category. Maintaining restful sleep will continue to be important for future health management, stress reduction and, at the time travel becomes in higher demand, more rest during flights and travel will be important.”
The Right Mix
Sleep is a high-trial category, according to Jim Creagan, president of Cornwall, N.Y.-based Randob Labs, so retailers need to offer products that meet multiple customer needs. “This means an assortment of OTC and natural sleep aid products with at least the most popular delivery systems, such as capsules, gummies, liquids, etc.,” he said. “Consumers will base their purchasing decisions on the dosage format, brand and value.” Also, retailers need to invest in digital technology, as consumers will likely continue to embrace online shopping after the coronavirus pandemic subsides, Creagan said.
Randob Labs makes Dormin, which the company said has been trusted with consumers since the 1950s and is the original nighttime sleep aid brand. The brand recently refreshed its packaging to emphasize key messaging. The sleep aid, with the active ingredient diphenhydramine, comes in mini capsules. Creagan said that a 2019 consumer research study found that 65% of current sleep-aid users said they are more likely to purchase a brand with two mini capsules than a single-dose, larger tablet product.
The variety in the sleep set should include not just homeopathic and allopathic products, but also products for all ages. “Consumers are looking for personalized solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all,” said Annie Chen, vice president of marketing at Los Angeles-based Hyland’s. “Sleep patterns and causes of sleep disruptions are different for everyone, and one way they differ is by age group.”
For example, Chen said, teens are dealing with the stress of school, while older women may be losing sleep due to such menopause symptoms as hot flashes and night sweats. “It’s hard to reach some of these smaller and underserved consumer groups when they don’t know where to find products designed for their unique needs once they’re in a traditional retail store,” she said. She also said that retailers can make the section easier for people to shop by communicating that the store has products just for these consumers by creating dedicated areas within the store or by highlighting small dedicated areas within a larger shelf set.
Hyland’s expanded its sleep portfolio with products dedicated to teens, adults and seniors. In addition to Hyland’s Calms Forté for adults, there is Serene for young adults that helps with focus and sleep, and Dr. Wise Sleep for women going through menopause. All are made with natural active ingredients, are free of hormones, and have no known drug interactions or side effects.
The Air That We Breathe
The sleep category includes not just products to help consumers sleep, but also items designed to help people sleep without snoring. Quest Products makes sleepWell, an internal nasal dilator for snoring relief. “With snoring the problem is not you, it’s your partner,” Romanow said. The product provides a drug-free, chemical-free and side effect free way to reduce snoring, and it contains essential oils including lavender, chamomile and ylang-ylang.
The company also recently launched breatheWell, a nasal filter designed for people interested in protection against the smallest of airborne particles and pollutants. It is drug-free and latex-free, and the rings are made of a surgical-grade polymer that is nontoxic.
The products are especially popular among millennials and Generation Z consumers, who are looking for unmedicated solutions, so there is an untapped opportunity to reach baby boomers and other age groups. Quest Products is doing its part by printing product information on the packaging. When people have insomnia, they visit the store and start reading labels. “For this category, a lot of the messaging is on shelf,” Romanow said. “People depend on messaging on the packaging.” dsn