CPGmatters: McNeil Provides Solutions at Shelf for Shoppers of the OTC Drug Category
By John Karolefski
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of a current article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.
from Johnson & Johnson, the parent of McNeil Consumer Healthcare,
found that OTC drug is a complex category that leaves shoppers overwhelmed
and often confused. Consumers have to deal with a wide variety of products
and often hard-to-read information on small packages. Easily assessing product
information becomes critical when consumers are taking other medications and
need to avoid side effects from mixing drugs. People also need to shop the
section more quickly when decisions are urgently needed.
The study — focusing
on pain relief, upper respiratory and digestive health — found that shoppers
want better category organization and improved navigational messaging. Over
80 percent of them recommend organizing and messaging the shelf according to
“As they go down the aisle, shoppers want to see a proper flow of products
that make sense,” said Michael Pishvanov, associate director of shopper
marketing sales strategy at McNeil Consumer Healthcare speaking in a presentation
at the recent Shopper Insights in Action conference.
“There are certain things than can be done that can help. Using colors,
for instance, can help differentiate segments. You want to be careful and not
create a whole rainbow at the shelf, but still make some distinctions.”
than eight of 10 shoppers (81 percent) want more OTC drug information on the
product package itself, more than half (54 percent) desire more signage, and
four of 10 (41 percent) would welcome personal advice from a pharmacist.
important role of major brands was singled out by shoppers. They would welcome “beacon
brands” to help draw them to the products they
are looking for in the cluttered nonprescription drug section. Shoppers say
using well-recognized national brands such as Tylenol and Benadryl serve as “beacons” to
help navigation in the section.
“We recommend using beacon brands at top of the shelf to draw people
in,” said Mr. Pishvanov. “So, from 30 feet away, somebody can look
and — even if they can’t speak English — realize what that
The study confirmed that all shopping trips are not the
same. The two major trip types are replenishment (people who know about a
product and are merely replenishing it) and immediate or urgent need (to treat
or cure an ailment).
That is why “we recommend developing strategies based
on trip type and not just by focusing on a category,” explains Mr. Pishvanov.
also recommended that retailers leverage their unique strengths such as one-stop
shopping and large assortments (but with better organization and navigation
cues). Other opportunities to focus on include staging promotions and relying
on available advice from a pharmacist where possible.
Discussion Questions: How can retailers improve the “shopability” of
the OTC drug category? What do you think of the suggestions in the article,
particularly the use of ‘beacon brands’ to improve navigation?