Baby, It's Cold Season!

Market Research Analyst

Flu season is officially upon us and with an exceptionally severe season in 2017-2018, we anticipate over-the-counter cough and cold medication to be a popular purchase this year. With a desired increase in convenience and speed of delivery, more consumers are turning to the Internet to stock up on these seemingly essential items. In fact, online cough and cold sales have grown 55% year-over year, according to 1010reveal Market Benchmark.

From August to September 2018, sales in this category rose 59%, which is significantly higher than the 22% growth we discovered between the same two months in 2017. We can conclude that consumers are planning ahead and preparing for potential symptoms months in advance this year. Over the past couple of years, cough and cold sales have peaked in January, selling more than three times the amount in June, the category’s quietest month.

Growth in children’s and baby medicine is outpacing the category total as more and more families feel the need to ensure that they have the right products on hand when a child falls ill. Although this subcategory makes up only 11% of the total category, children’s and baby medicine has contributed 14% to the overall category growth online. Traditionally, cough and cold medicine has been an item that people purchase in-store when symptoms arise. However, recent data suggests that parents are looking to purchase these items in advance through online retail giants such as Amazon and Walmart, thus eliminating the need to run to the store in the middle of the night.

Although big-name brands like Mucinex play in the space, brands such as Hyland’s, Zarbee’s and Boiron hold the majority of the market share for children’s medicines and are competing for share in the total category.

What’s driving the success of these top children’s brands? Boiron and Hyland’s are better at converting consumers online than the category average. 7.5% and 7.2% of consumers that view Boiron and Hyland’s products, respectively, end up purchasing, while the category average is 5.7%. Hyland’s success can be attributed to lower levels of comparison shopping from their customers. For the average cough & cold brand, 8.3% of consumers shop for other brands before purchasing, but that same statistic is just 5.5% for Hyland’s shoppers. This means that consumers shopping for Hyland’s are less influenced by other brands. Similarly, “Zarbee’s” is the 13th top searched term in the category, which indicates high consumer interest for this brand. This is further proven by the 244% increase in online sales for Zarbee’s year over year.

Hyland’s, Boiron and Zarbee’s have also had success because they have proven to be trusted brands for parents looking to alleviate their children’s symptoms. With keywords such as “natural”, “safe” and “homeopathic” in their item names, parents can confidently stock up on the products and brands that promise a quick and easy recovery. As this flu season continues, we expect more parents to stock up on cough & cold products for their families and use ecommerce as a convenient supplier.