ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES ENTER THE MAINSTREAM: MARKETERS WIELD BIGGER BUDGETS, STAR ENDORSERS AS PRESENCE ON SHELF INCREASES

By Published on .

Most Popular
Leveraging consumer dissatisfaction with traditional healthcare, marketers of alternative remedies and supplements are launching more significant ad efforts and finding greater acceptance in drugstores.

A number of brands are now wielding multimillion-dollar campaigns, with a few even moving into TV with sports star endorsements.

$15 MIL EFFORT FOR VITASANA

By midyear, Pharmaton Natural Health Products plans to launch Vitasana, a multivitamin with ginseng, with a $15 million campaign in addition to its $29 million annual media budget.

Pharmaton's Ginsana is continuing a campaign with National Basketball Association star Scottie Pippin-it claims to be the first supplement to use national TV-and PacificHealth Laboratories' workout supplement Endurox last month broke a $10 million TV effort with National Football League great Joe Montana. Both campaigns, as well as Vitasana, are handled by Sawtooth Group, Woodbridge, N.J.

Others are beginning to follow in the footsteps of Ginsana, the first major herbal supplement remedy to brand itself.

Ginsana was launched in 1982, marketed by Sunsource International for pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, which created the product. Sunsource founder Robert Sohn brought the Ginsana ginseng and ginkoba products to drugstores when they weren't accustomed to carrying such products. The brand responsibilities were shifted to Pharmaton, a division of Boehringer, in January 1996.

PRODUCTS EAGERLY EMBRACED

After years of fighting for space on drugstore shelves, herbal and homeopathic products are now being eagerly embraced.

"There has been real growth over the last two years among these products and particularly over the last month," said Gerry Hoeppner, communications manager for Eckerd Drug Co.

His company now devotes between 4 feet and 5 feet of shelf space per store to 150 herbal supplements products, noting "we're pro-active in merchandising it, and consumers are reacting positively."

Products that help treat allergy and cold symptoms, such as echinacea and Quigley Corp.'s zinc product Cold-Eeze (see related story at right), are also hot alternatives to over-the-counter drugs. There is no national echinacea brand yet, though marketers expect there soon will be.

Estimates vary on the size of the market, but Tom Aarts, executive editor of Nutrition Business Journal, figured the herbal remedies category totals about $2.87 billion, with 20% annual growth expected for the next five years.

$758.4 MIL MARKET

The mineral supplement market-including non-vitamins like zinc but excluding herbals-was worth $758.4 million for the year ended Dec. 29, a 26.1% increase over 1995, according to Information Resources Inc. IRI polls mass merchants, groceries and drugstores but not health food stores-which account for a large portion of such sales-and does not break out herbal sales.

Ad spending in the combined vitamin and supplement category ranked by Competitive Media Reporting jumped 29.5% for the first 11 months of 1996 to $127.7 million compared with the same period the year before.

Vitamin marketers such as American Home Products Corp. and Bayer Corp. were overall the largest spenders, but the most spending growth came from herbals.

Pharmaton spent $24.2 million in media for the first 11 months of '96 on Ginsana, compared with $11.9 million in '95 under Sunsource.

PHARMATON'S `WHEREWITHAL'

"We're one of the few companies with the wherewithal to support our products this much," said Tom Peterson, Pharmaton's general manager.

Smaller marketers such as Sunsource, which makes Garlique and Melatonex, and 4Health, which markets UnDo, tend to spend less but have a presence in radio and print. Sunsource spent $6.6 million, primarily via network radio, for the first 11 months of '96. Karlen Advertising, New York, handles Sunsource.

Others still rely on word-of-mouth.

Said PacificHealth President Robert Portman: "My prediction is within the next five years, we'll see a shelf area almost equal to OTC. There are a lot of factors driving that." Sunsource International for pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, which created the product. Sunsource founder Robert Sohn brought the Ginsana ginseng and ginkoba products to drugstores when they weren't accustomed to carrying such products. The brand responsibilities were shifted to Pharmaton, a division of Boehringer, in January 1996.

After years of fighting for space on drugstore shelves, herbal and homeopathic products are now being eagerly embraced.

"There has been real growth over the last two years among these products and particularly over the last month," said Gerry Hoeppner, communications manager for Eckerd Drug Co.

His company now devotes between 4 feet and 5 feet of shelf space per store to 150 homeopathic products, noting "we're pro-active in merchandising it, and consumers are reacting positively."

Products that help treat allergy and cold symptoms, such as echinacea and Quigley Corp.'s zinc product Cold-Eeze (see related story on this page), are also hot alternatives to over-the-counter drugs. There is no national echinacea brand yet, though marketers expect there soon will be.

Estimates vary on the size of the market, but Tom Aarts, executive editor of Nutrition Business Journal, figured the herbal remedies category totals about $2.87 billion, with 20% annual growth expected for the next five years.

The mineral supplement market-including non-vitamins like zinc but excluding herbals-was worth $758.4 million for the year ended Dec. 29, a 26.1% increase over 1995, according to Information Resources Inc. IRI polls mass merchants, groceries and drugstores but not health food stores-which account for a large portion of such sales-and does not break out herbal sales.

Ad spending in the combined vitamin and supplement category ranked by Competitive Media Reporting jumped 29.5% for the first 11 months of 1996 to $127.7 million compared with the same period the year before.

Vitamin marketers such as American Home Products Corp. and Bayer Corp. were overall the largest spenders, but the most spending growth came from herbals.

Pharmaton spent $24.2 million in media for the first 11 months of '96 on Ginsana, compared with $11.9 million in '95 under Sunsource.

"We're one of the few companies with the wherewithal to support our products this much," said Tom Peterson, Pharmaton's general manager.

Smaller marketers such as Sunsource, which makes Garlique and Melatonex, and 4Health, which markets UnDo, tend to spend less but have a presence in radio and print. Sunsource spent $6.6 million, primarily via network radio, for the first 11 months of '96. Karlen Advertising, New York, handles Sunsource.

Others still rely on word-of-mouth.

Said PacificHealth President Robert Portman: "My prediction is within the next five years, we'll see a shelf area almost equal to OTC. There are a lot of factors driving that."

In this article: