Store brand OTC sales are on the rise

Exclusive data from Catalina shows large year-over-year gains in some OTC categories, including a 559% increase in private label children’s cough/cold medicine.
Dan Ochwat
Executive Editor
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With face masks coming off, sales of branded and private brand OTC drugs to combat cough and cold spells are going up, according to insights from Catalina and its Catalina’s Buyer Intelligence Database.

The St. Petersburg, Fla.-based analysts shared with Store Brands exclusive data on how private label sales have climbed in certain categories such as analgesics, lozenges and more. The organization looked at sales during the four weeks following May 13 vs. last year and the year before.

The most notable sales leap is in the cough and cold medicines for children (not including cough drops) category, where private label sales are up 559% compared with a year ago, up 10% compared with 2019. In the same category for adults, private brand sales are up 67% compared with 2020 and down 17% vs. 2019. National brand children’s cough and cold remedies were up 564% in sales compared with 2020.

Other exclusive data shared by Catalina shows a 13% jump in private label analgesics sales compared with a year ago, up 6% vs. 2019; private label chest rubs are up 70% vs. 2020, up 35% against 2019; store brand allergy medicines are up 11% and 3% vs. 2020 and 2019, respectively; own brand children’s analgesics are up 69% vs. a year ago, down 22% vs. 2019; and cough drops and lozenges in private label are up 20% compared with 2020, down 20% vs. 2019.

Courtesy of Catalina

Catalina cited the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in that the 2020-21 flu season was virtually non-existent with sheltering at home, wearing masks and social distancing, but with the CDC saying it's OK to not wear masks and the upswing in vaccinations, colds and coughs have returned a bit. In name brand increases, the Hyland's brand saw the biggest percentage increase, rising 773%, and Mucinex rose 759%. Sales of children's analgesics climbed 78%, with Motrin up 96% and Tylenol up 76%, compared with 2020.

Other top performing OTC brands vs. a year ago include Vaposhower, up 216%, and Vick's, up 189%, in the vaporizer category; Vick's up 249% and Zarbee's up 217% in the cough and cold remedies category; Vapocool up 143% and Cepacol up 115% in the cough & throat drops category; and Mucinex up 151% and Sudafed up 116% in allergy.

The CDC has reported that more than 65% of adults in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose June 20. As a result, sales in the home health testing category, which includes face masks, dropped 62% over the four weeks ending June 12 compared to the same period in 2020. Private label led all brands in that category up 176% vs. 2019 and down 62% compared with last year.