P&G'S ALEVE MAY CHECK PROSPECTS IN COUGH/COLD AISLE

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Procter & Gamble Co. is exploring the extension of its Aleve analgesic brand into cough/cold remedies.

P&G declined to confirm the move, but a spokesman said, "We're looking at a variety of ways to further increase the sales of Aleve. Our main focus is building the equity of the brand."

Industry executives say P&G has not yet made the filing with the Food & Drug Administration necessary for such an extension.

"They're looking to fortify their position before competition enters the fray," said Don Stuart, partner at Cannondale Associates, referring to the loss next January of P&G's patent for Aleve's main ingredient, naproxen sodium.

A `NATURAL' MOVE

"Aleve going into cough/cold is a natural," he added. "Advil [and] Tylenol have done it."

Another less-likely option for P&G would be to use the Aleve ingredient to bolster Vicks.

P&G spent $100 million in marketing Aleve in 1995, $69 million of that in advertising, according to Competitive Media Reporting. D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, handles.

Most new cough/cold products have been new delivery forms or extended dosing, with no new ingredients in years. Sales in the $2.5 billion category are flat.

PRIVATE LABEL DOMINATES

Private label dominates, with a 20.5% share, up 9.4% for the year ended Feb. 25, says Information Resources Inc. Tylenol's share was up 10.3%, to a 9.5% share, while Whitehall-Robins' Robitussin followed closely with an 8.9% share and an increase of 8%. P&G's Vicks Formula 44 dropped 3.5% to a 2.7% share and the No. 10 slot; sister brand Nyquil saw sales drop 7.6%, producing a 5.6% share.

The $2.7 billion analgesics business showed a 1.2% increase (see related story on Page 49). Aleve made an explosive entry in 1994 but has not been able to find substantial growth since. It is now ranked No. 4 with a 5.3% share.

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