By Mark Land, AAHP President
Every year or so I survey my local CVS store for the number and type of homeopathic drug products on their shelves. This year I decided to add a few Internet retailers as well for a broader look at the market. In general, homeopathic medicines are well represented at retail. Many AAHP member company’s products are also well represented. I noted that many AAHP companies are enjoying long term success. I recognize AAHP member company products that have been in the market for more than 10 years. Remarkably, e-commerce has broadened the selection available at retail by several orders of magnitude.
This year, I conducted an online survey of a few prominent retailers for a broader look. The table below gives a hint of what’s available. I say “hint” because changing the search term even by one or two characters can change the results. So take these numbers for what they are – a hint.
The drug chain data is pretty accurate. Amazon, however, includes anything remotely associated with homeopathy (books, for example). That reality makes the point that retailing in today’s market, whether online or in-store, presents the age-old challenge of awareness: How do I generate awareness for my product? On-shelf awareness is generated by placement and packaging. Online awareness is generated by search terms and a myriad of adjacencies that only a digital marketer can embrace.
So why am I writing about such things as market adjacencies and brand awareness? Because all too often I have seen brands attempt to create awareness and separate from adjacencies by making fantastic claims. Often this means making claims to treat serious illness with an OTC medication. FDA has issued at least five warning letters to homeopathic firms citing misbranding – Rx indications on OTC drug products.
I don’t think I need to remind readers of the risks that this represents to consumers. Emerging brands attempting to gain a foothold should consider the range of modern marketing vehicles to build brands. Leave sensational messaging to political campaigns.