With the cold season on its way, it’s inevitable that consumers will soon be flocking to convenience stores for cold and flu relief.

With most adults experiencing two to four colds a year, soothing solutions are in high demand in c-stores. With extremely long waits for GP Surgeries and advice not to visit a doctor for colds and flu, many people are turning to self-medication.

The lines in convenience stores are much shorter and most over-the-counter ailments can be found at a cheaper price in store.

This opens up plenty of opportunities for stores to display OTC medicine.

Many retailers have set up pharmacy sections in-store to help shoppers get through the winter months ahead.

OTC Health Sees Strong Growth

The OTC healthcare category is steadily growing as retailers look to maximise their medication sales.

With £118m being added to the category year on year, it is a surprise to see that branded cold and flu remedies have slightly declined.

Bearing in mind, it’s important for retailers to remember to offer on-the-go medication to consumers so that they can get on with their busy lives instead of resting up.

The advice to retailers in order to raise OTC health sales are to drive impulse by offering cross-merchandising complementary products such as tissues, lip balms and medicated sweets.

The best time to stock up is from October onwards, as this will prepare you for the busy Christmas period and again before the New Year to prepare for the first few cold months.

The OTC Placement Debate

A high number of retailers agree that setting OTC medicines away from the counter and around your store is often the best placement option.

You want customers to see them and be able to browse the shelves up close and personal.

One of the biggest arguments against this has always been regarding shoplifting, however, many retailers comment on the fact that most thefts occur on alcohol aisles.

As merchandising has evolved over the years and technology in stores has changed, a high number of retailers have remarked that consumers only buy OTC medicines when they can see them.

Similar to batteries, they can sometimes be something people only remember they need when they come across them in-store.

Branded vs Non-Branded

Another ongoing battle in medicines is between branded and non-branded ranges with a rise in concern over the main difference in product between the two.

Some retailers have openly admitted to promoting generic products based on price and effect.

A BBC documentary released within the year sparked some concern over the fate of branded products as the debate over the difference between branded and non-branded came to question.

In conclusion, consumers still prefer to have a choice.

Many have remained brand loyal – while others have opted for generic medicine in favour of a cheaper price.

The decision can sometimes be down to how ill the customer is, if you have a thumping headache you’ll often end up reaching for whatever remedy or relief is nearby.

It’s Down to Location

Your stock selection should always come down to your location, especially for OTC medicines.

Think about where you’re located and what’s around you that might influence a consumers choice of what to purchase.

Your selection edit could depend on your customers’ missions.

If your retail store is located near a travel hotspot or airport you might want to stock up on sleep aids, breath products and hangover cures.

Similarly, if you’re located in a residential area your customers will opt for more family-focused products.

Ideas for Boosting Medicine Sales

It’s important to put yourself in the headspace of a customer who’s under the weather.

They may be waiting to speak to someone at the pharmacy counter in-store or confused about the best option for a home remedy.

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