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    Antacids/Laxatives: Catering to a loyal customer base



    Catering to a loyal customer base

    The Hamacher Resource Group provided the information for this article. The Milwaukee company provides marketing services and business intelligence to the healthcare industry. Wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers partner with Hamacher Resource Group to improve their profitability. For more information, visit www.hamacher.com.

    One of the most productive categories for independent drugstores–antacids/laxatives–ranks third in dollar sales, contributing just under 10% of the outlet’s total health and beauty care (HBC) sales.

    Within the drugstore market, which includes chain outlets, drugstores own 55% of sales, according to Information Resources Inc. (IRI). How large is the antacid/laxative market? Total category sales for the 52 weeks ending April 2004 reached $2.5 billion, of which drugstores contributed $1.38 billion.

    Food stores

    Source: IRI. 52 weeks ended 4/19/04

    Subcategory contribution

    Within the Hamacher file, subcategory contributions are calculated by combining unit and dollar sales. The resulting number determines how the category is merchandised. Based on our calculations, as of July 21, 2004, here is how Hamacher breaks down the subcategory contributions within the antacid/laxative category for independent drugstores:

    Acid blockers
    Digestive aids


    Antacids and acid blockers: The story of the year has centered on the introduction and success of Prilosec OTC. The rankings of Prilosec’s SKUs within the department show how the brand has taken the subcategory by storm. What’s more, Prilosec’s popularity continues to grow.

    Prilosec OTC 14 ct
    Prilosec OTC 28 ct
    Prilosec OTC 42 ct
    Hamacher rank
    IRI rank


    As of March 21, 2004, IRI reported 4,846,494 unit sales of these three SKUs, which translates into dollar sales of $72 million. Factor in an estimate for Wal-Mart, and Prilosec’s sales are pushing well over $120 million during its first six months on the market. Sales figures alone put this OTC version of the former prescription drug in the blockbuster category.

    More subcategory facts:

    •As a whole, the acid blocker subcategory generated about $780 million in sales, with Pepcid, Prilosec OTC, and Zantac 75 holding the top three market shares among brand families.

    •Within the antacid tablets subcategory, Tums led the way, with over $120 million in sales.

    •Private-label brands contributed $136 million in sales and 25 million units to the total. They are key players within the antacid/acid blocker subcategory.

    Laxatives: Drugstores shine in this area. The medicinal nature of laxatives continues to squarely position the pharmacy as the place of purchase–as patients look to the pharmacist for recommendations on use. While the subcategory totaled $662 million in drugstores, this number represents a decline of 5% over last year, a perplexing turn of events since all predictions indicated the category was poised for growth. The market was counting on additional sales from low-carb dieters to energize laxative sales. The jury is still out on that prediction, but there is still hope.

    Private-label offerings increased their unit sales and so decreased dollar sales within the laxative category. Sales of private-label bulk laxatives grew 5.5%; sales of private-label overnight laxatives grew 21%. This 21% gives private label a 44% market share of the overnight business. Such a strong showing caused sales of branded overnight laxatives to decline 11% versus a year ago. Phillips now places a distant second, with a market share of 12%.

    Capitalizing on your opportunity with merchandising

    Private labels: These products are key to the success of your antacid/laxative department. Private label’s share of the gastrointestinal liquid and gastrointestinal tablet subcategories is 20% and 21%, respectively. Be sure to offer private-label alternatives for every subcategory, especially bulk fiber laxatives, stool softeners, overnight laxatives, and antacids. Position these products to the left of their branded counterparts, and highlight the savings with compare-and-save signage.

    Antidiarrheals: Hamacher merchandises multisymptom products and antidiarrheals in the middle of the department, forming a natural transition from laxatives to antacids. These transition items are destination products, and by drawing the customer’s eye to the middle of the department, you create the opportunity for additional sales within neighboring subcategories.

    Bulk fiber laxatives: Given the size and weight of these items, Hamacher merchandises them on lower shelves. It’s important to offer the right assortment and stay in stock. Why?

    •22% of consumers will go to another store if you do not have their product in stock.

    •Bulk fiber laxative customers plan their purchase ahead of time.

    Therefore, an assortment that does not fit your customer base or that is plagued with out-of-stocks will drive your customers to other locations.

    The antacid/laxative category can be very lucrative because its customer base is so loyal. However, to succeed, you need the right product mix, at the right price, in the right location. And stay in stock. The repeat sales of these loyal customers can become a mainstay of your department and your drugstore.


    New items—Antacids/laxatives (10/03-7/04)



    Benefiber Chew Tabs 36, 100 ct Orange Cream Novartis
    Ceralyte 50 RTD 4-pk Lemon Cumberland Pharmaceuticals
    Ceralyte 50 RTM 30, 50 gm Mixed Berry Cumberland Pharmaceuticals
    Ceralyte 70 RTM 30, 50 gm Lemon Cumberland Pharmaceuticals
    Gentle Naturals Tummy Soother 4 oz. Del Pharmaceuticals
    Little Tummys Gas Relief 1.5 oz. Vetco Pharmaceuticals
    Maalox Total Stomach Relief 12 oz. PMint, Straw Novartis
    Mylanta Extra Strength Liquid 12 oz. Orange McNeil Consumer
    Pepcid AC Maximum Strength Tabs 5, 25, 50.ct McNeil Consumer
    Pepto-Bismol Cherry 8, 12, 16 oz. P&G-Health
    Phillips Caplets 24 ct Bayer Inc.
    Rolaids Maximum Strength Line Pfizer
    Senna Prompt EZ-Caps 90 ct Konsyl Pharmaceuticals
    Tummy Chews Antacid/Antigas 24 ct Improvita
    Tums Smooth Dissolve 45 ct Tropical Smoothie GlaxoSmithKline
    Ultra-Fiber Caps 150 ct Alva-Amco


    Antacids/laxatives never-out list*

    Beano Enzyme Tablets 30 ct

    Fleet Enema 4.5 oz. Adult

    Fleet Phospho Soda 3 oz. Ginger/Lemon

    Imodium A-D Caplet 12 ct

    Mylanta Liquid 12 oz. Original

    Pepto-Bismol 8 oz. Original

    Prilosec Tablets 42 ct

    PL Antacid Liquid 12 oz. Original

    PL Senna Laxative Tablets 100 ct

    Tums 150 ct Assorted

    Zantac 75 Tablets 10 ct

    *Partial list provided by Hamacher Resource Group


    Sandra Levy. Antacids/Laxatives: Catering to a loyal customer base. Drug Topics Sep. 13, 2004;148.

    Sandra Levy
    Sandra Levy is Managing Editor-Projects. She covers self care, chains and business, home care, over-the-counter medicines and Rx-to-OTC ...