NEW YORK— As we enter cold and flu season, many consumers are turning to homeopathic solutions at the first signs of the sniffles or scratchy throat. Gary Wittenberg, vice president of national accounts at Boiron USA, says that most major retailers are merchandising homeopathic products along with defense and first sign of products. “Homeopathic products are being prominently placed on shelves as retailers value their premium pricing and generally higher margins. In addition social media will continue to be a major force behind driving brand awareness as consumers discover more and more practical uses for these products through this medium. Ultimately, the success of a brand’s online presence will be measured by the consumers who are speaking with their wallets.”
He said the drug channel is first to market when it comes to pioneering homeopathic products. If successful in drug, these products will move into other channels like food, mass merchandisers and eventually other channels.
“Consumers are looking for better-for-you ingredients in over-the-counter (O-T-C) drugs. Boiron meets that demand by using high quality traditional homeopathic ingredients made from plants, minerals or animals in its cough, cold and flu products. Consumers also expect to receive the same efficacy as allopathic products offer.”
He says that two studies, published in peer-reviewed journals, show that Boiron’s Oscillococcinum helps to reduce the severity and shorten the duration of flu-like symptoms. “The most recent study showed that 63% of the patients who took Oscillo at the onset of flu-like symptoms showed ‘clear improvement’ or ‘complete resolution’ of their symptoms after 48 hours.”
Wittenberg notes because their scope of use is very similar to O-T-C medicines, homeopathic medicines are often a consumer’s first choice in treating many acute conditions including colds and flu. “Retailers who understand that today’s consumers value choices in over-the-counter treatments and product ingredients are poised for growth. Boiron gives retailers something innovative to offer their shoppers with breakout products like Oscillococcinum in certain categories long dominated by traditional ingredients. Consumers also feel good about their wellness purchases being as efficacious as more traditional allopathic products.”
As media continues to play a major role in cough cold remedies, he says Boiron relies on word of mouth and has an active social media program reaching more than a million consumers each year through regular interaction with consumers on platforms that include Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
“Boiron heavily promotes its cough, cold and flu product line seasonally on its blog and social pages. Boiron also capitalizes on its vast network of influencers and bloggers to help spread word of mouth throughout cold and flu season. Last January, a consumer Facebook post featuring Oscillococcinum went “viral” during the height of the flu season crossing over into television appearances and driving demand for the product at stores. The post generated nearly a million shares and 145K reactions and 65K comments. This new awareness of the product increased household penetration and brought Oscillococcinum to a whole new level. This product continued its growth outside of the traditional flu season.”
He notes that Boiron has a strong base of baby boomers in its online fan base, which counts for about a third of its audience. “This mirrors the customer base, which tends to skew a little older and is mostly female. However, product extensions like ColdCalm Liquid Doses for children six months of age and up are appealing to younger moms and are serving as a gateway to Boiron’s other cold and flu offerings. Millennials are digital natives, therefore driving the demand for self-treatment and health information on-line. Their purchase decisions are made before they even enter the store. Having a significant on-line presence is key in reaching this well-informed generation. As Boiron’s footprint in the social space expands so does its audience of millennial consumers.”