Although the elderly population (defined as aged 65 or above) is growing worldwide, a 2018 report from the US Census Bureau drew renewed attention to the elderly population in the US especially: by the year 2035, adults aged 65 or older will outnumber children for the first time in US history. This report came at a tumultuous time for US politics, in which the ageing of America was often a topic of political conversation, especially when it came to healthcare reform and the long-term future of entitlement programmes such as Medicare and Social Security.
Although sales of systemic analgesics continue to significantly eclipse those of topical analgesics/anaesthetic, the latter has continued to grow at a significant pace between 2018 and 2019. The primary appeal of topical analgesics among consumers comes from the limited side-effects associated with their use: most are based on natural, botanical ingredients with which consumers are familiar and trust to address their symptoms without causing any physical damage.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is rapidly gaining popularity as a completely natural alternative to pain management. Consumers looking to manage chronic pain without chemicals are increasingly looking to CBD oil in capsules, oils, and creams/gels, in some cases moving away even from natural remedies such as menthol-based topical analgesics.
Three of the four major systemic analgesic brands (Advil (Pfizer), Aleve (Bayer AG) and Bayer Aspirin (Bayer AG)) saw a decline between 2018 and 2019 as consumers increasingly look for alternative forms of pain management that do not involve ingesting a chemical - this trend is particularly noteworthy this year as even though other treatment options have been popular for several years, they had not yet directly affected the sales of the powerhouse systemic brands until now. In contrast, Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol registered modest but positive growth, indicating the brand’s resistance to the shift to naturals and ongoing popularity with consumers, particularly when it comes to Tylenol’s paediatric and infant offerings, which benefit from a strong degree of trust among consumers.
Topical analgesics continued their rise in 2019, with Icy Hot (Sanofi) still in the number one spot despite threats from second- and third-ranked brands Salonpas (Hisamitsu) and Biofreeze (Hygienic Corp), respectively. In terms of highest growth, internet sensation Penetrex (Biomax Health Products) registered double-digit growth due to the brand’s cult-like following on Amazon.
Pain management remains a key concern for US consumers, particularly the elderly and those suffering from chronic disease. That said, as more consumers look for ways to address their pain with holistic and/or natural remedies, they will slowly continue to move away from traditional methods of pain management toward products that are non-invasive, with fewer side-effects, and that fit into an overall picture of what natural health looks like.
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