Cold comfort for hayfever remedies

The unpredictable British weather is playing havoc with the over-the-counter category.

The top-performing category in the sector was cold and flu remedies, which grew 8.2% by value to £119.8m in the year to 4 October.

But though sales were boosted by a cold and wet summer, there's evidence shoppers may have mistakenly believed they were suffering from colds rather than hayfever.

Lemsip, the category's top seller, rose 8.4% by value thanks to an £8m push by Reckitt Benckiser. But own label fared even better, up 18%.

Other categories fared less well. Adult painkillers rose just 2.4% to £344.6m, dominated by 7.6% growth from number one brand Nurofen and matched by 7.7% growth from own label. Reckitt Benckiser threw £10m behind the brand after a revamp of Nurofen Express.

The children's painkiller category fell 0.3% to £67.1m. While the leading brands, Calpol and Nurofen for Children, grew by 1.5% and 1.8%, own label performed strongly, up almost 20%, though from a small base.

Indigestion and gastric remedies also struggled, clocking up growth of just 0.3% to £125.4m. Of the top five brands, only Gaviscon posted an increase, up 4.1% following the launch of Gaviscon Liquid Sachets in February.

Top Launch
Speed is the selling point of Panadol Advance. According to GlaxoSmithKline's men in white coats, special ingredient

Optizorb means the new tablets disperse as much as five times

faster than a traditional 500mg tablet, which GSK says can take up to an hour to take effect. GSK is pushing Panadol Advance's fast-acting pain relief properties to challenge Reckitt Benckiser's Nurofen. It's the best bet yet.

View The Grocer's definitive Top Products 2008 survey