Herbal and organic over-the-counter pain relievers rubs and wraps are on the rise

For businesses, the growing consumer interest in treating only the area that hurts instead of the entire body is likely to be a compelling brand position.

According to Mintel, the herbal remedies market increased 17 percent from 2005 to 2009, to reach $5.9 billion in sales. It is expected to increase annually by 3.5 percent through 2015. Sales in over-the-county (OTC) external pain relieving rubs went from $274 million in 2009 to an estimated $309 million in 2011. These pain relieving rubs accounting for almost two thirds of pain relieving sales as a whole in 2010 and 2011. Mintel’s consumer research found that 62 percent of respondents who use over-the-counter external pain relievers purchase products with organic ingredients for muscle soreness.

Why is this? According to a February 2011 article in Chain Drug Review, consumers are showing an increasing interest in treating a specific body part instead of popping a pill to medicate the whole body. Mintel’s Global New Products Database supports the notion that products made of organic ingredients that are targeted for a specific part of the body injured by exercise (e.g., knee wraps for soccer, elbow wraps for baseball) may appeal to consumers. Bed Buddy is a successful example of such a product.

For businesses, this interest in treating only the area that hurts instead of the entire body is likely to be a compelling brand position. Combine this with positioning rubs or wraps as safe and holistic products and businesses now have a strong case that sets them apart from internal OTC pain relievers.

Sales of private label (small company) wraps also have increased, suggesting that consumers are either purchasing high-end technologically sophisticated products or trading down to private label.

Marketing rubs and wraps as cost-effective products can empower consumers to take care of their own bodies and save money at the same time.  To ease concern about safety and effectiveness, companies can use clinical research findings and consumer testimonials to promote their product on YouTube and Facebook. Another tactic is giving out free trials at sporting events or through partnerships with health clubs, running clubs, high school’s, colleges to introduce such products.

To make it easy for doctors and pharmacists to recommend their products, company’s can create prescription pads and trial-size packages resembling pharmaceuticals. Medical professionals can give these to patients or put them in waiting areas where patients can take one.

To appeal to women, companies can offer scent-free versions, perfume or aromatherapy-scented products, or partner with perfume companies and women celebrities to create stylish designs for women. To appeal to men, companies can feature a retired boxer or football player using the product as an effective strategy to encourage use of such products.

Finally, where a company sells their product is also critical. During 2008-2009, sales in mass market outlets such as traditional grocery stores, drug stores and department stores increased 13.6 percent. This means consumers prefer making purchases in the same outlets they use for grocery shopping instead of making a specific trip for the product.

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