Seasonal influenza has a significant impact on sales of cough, cold and allergy products, particularly in years when the influenza vaccine is less effective. Consumers turn to a number of products during the flu season, including vitamins and dietary supplements for prevention, combination CCAs and nasal sprays for fevers and coughs, and tissue products for nasal congestion. This report looks at the consumer health impact of seasonal influenza in the US, focusing on 2014/2015.
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Beyond trends in consumer preferences, the single biggest determinant in how severe a flu season will be (and therefore how much consumers will spend on their “basket” of flu products), is how closely the annual vaccine matches that year’s dominant circulating strain of flu. In a high match year, sales of flu products decline, and in a low match year, sales of flu products surge in response.
Despite the fact that vaccines for seasonal influenza are readily available and commonly offered at no cost to the consumer, only about 62% of US consumers consider getting a flu vaccination as necessary for their health. Those who do not get a flu vaccination report that their main reasons for not doing so include not believing flu to be a serious concern and not believing that the vaccine works.
During flu season, US consumers generally consider a set “basket” of goods essential to maintaining their health and controlling their symptoms, including cough and cold medications, facial tissues and hand sanitisers, among others. More women consider these products as “essential” than men do, though there is no strong evidence that women get sick more often than men, or suffer worse symptoms.
Within the category of cough, cold and allergy medications (CCAs), US consumers spend the most on combination products, totalling more than USD3.2 billion in sales in 2016. US consumers are drawn to the convenience that combination products offer by addressing more than one symptom at once in the same product.