he health problems of baby boomers may
turn out to be benefits for retailers who cater
to them with private label products.
While the buying habits of millennials
have received a great deal of attention, the other end of
the age spectrum has plenty of influence on the market
for consumer goods in general. This influence will grow,
thanks to sheer numbers: According to census data, the
portion of the U.S. population older than 65 will increase
from 15% in 2015 to 24% in 2060 (from 48 million to 98
million, in raw numbers).
When it comes to health-related products, the boomer
segment is even better represented. According to a survey
by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, consumers older
than 50 account for more than half of all over-the-counter
(OTC) medicine purchases; 65 and older, for one-third.
In addition, 70% of boomers regularly use vitamins and
other nutritional supplements, compared with 51% of
millennials, according to a study by Accent Health.
These trends are an important aspect of an increasingly
significant product segment. Sales of OTCs and natural supplements reached $45.8 billion in 2016, a record
and an increase of 4.1% over 2005. OTC medications
often are the first choice to treat minor health problems;
according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, when beset by minor injuries and ailments, 81%
of consumers overall will self-treat with OTCs as the first
option, while only 27% will go to the doctor immediately.
The CHPA claims OTCs save consumers $102 billion a
year over more expensive options.
For health products that treat problems suffered disproportionately by older consumers, growth rates
are even more pronounced. Sales of inconti-nence-related products rose from $1.4 billion
through most of 2014 to $1.8 billion through
most of 2017, according to Nielsen. During the
same period, sales of medicine for urinary pain
relief rose from $49.3 million to $74.7 million.
National brands are still on top in heath
care. In a sales analysis of healthcare products
with special appeal to older consumers, compiled for Winsight Grocery Business by Nielsen,
sales in almost all categories are dominated by
national brands (see sidebar at right).
Sales of OTCs and natural
supplements in 2016, a
Source: Consumer Healthcare Products
The aging baby-boomer generation
is a big market for private label
healthcare products—one that’s still
largely dominated by national brands.
By Pan Demetrakakes