Pandemic Continues to Impact OTC Healthcare Sales

Per Catalina’s shopper insights, consumer spending on OTC healthcare brands is up as loyalty shifts.

ST. PETERSBURG, Dec. 2, 2021 – While consumers continue to make fewer trips to grocery and drugstores than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic was officially declared in March 2020, spending per visit continues to be higher, with certain OTC Healthcare categories and brands experiencing strong growth.

A close look at Catalina’s Buyer Intelligence Database shows there is a greater focus on staying healthy by taking more immunity boosting products and vitamins -- even as more people seek treatments to deal with a resurgent cough, cold and flu season, which was relatively mild in the Fall of 2020 as more people socially distanced and wore face masks. The ongoing uptick in sleeping aid sales compared to the same period in 2019 suggests many people continue to deal with restless nights as the pandemic goes on.

While nearly half of consumers have shown disloyalty to their favorite OTC remedies during this time, brands such as Mucinex, Afrin, Nature Made, Natrol and Icy Hot have continued posting strong sales gains:

Dollar Sales % Change*
Categories 2021 vs. 2020 2021 vs. 2019 Top Brand** (Based on 2021 Sales) Top Brand Sales % Change (2021 vs. 2020)
Cough and Cold 61.8% 4.5% Mucinex 94%
Nasal sprays/asthma remedies 29.4% 23.6% Afrin 32%
Immunity boosting products 14.1% 86.7% Nature Made 11%
Sleep aids 12.9% 44.8% Natrol 18%
External analgesics 5.5% 23.9% Icy Hot 8%
Vitamins 9.5% 31.2% Nature Made 12%
* Analysis Periods: Sep 1 - Nov 10 of each year
** National brands defined as selling in more than 50% of stores in Catalina’s retailer network.

Catalina CMO Marta Cyhan offered advice for OTC marketers wanting to better capitalize on new brand demand. “It starts with knowing your audience and tailoring your outreach to them with messaging that is both personal and relevant,” said Cyhan. “At Catalina we can build custom audiences as well as access more than 700 pre-built, syndicated audience segments to help marketers more effectively reach potential buyers, build and fortify loyalty, and trigger purchases, whether they be New Enthusiasts, Lapsed Users or Vulnerable Brand Loyals, to name a few.”

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About Catalina
Catalina is a leader in shopper intelligence and highly targeted in-store, TV, radio and digital media that personalizes the shopper journey. Powered by the world’s richest real-time shopper database, Catalina helps retailers, CPG brands and agencies optimize every stage of media planning, execution and measurement to deliver $6.1 billion in consumer value annually. Catalina has no higher priority than ensuring the privacy and security of the data entrusted to the company and maintaining consumer trust. Catalina has operations in the United States, Costa Rica, Europe and Japan. To learn more, visit or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @Catalina.

Media Contact
Wally Petersen/Catalina

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