Despite OTC growth in Germany remaining sluggish in 2014, online sales are starting to make serious advances. Online sales now account for a little over 10% of the country’s total OTC market, according to industry sources.
While market share is still relatively modest in traditional categories like cold & flu and GIs, online turnover for a variety of lifestyle and VMS brands – for which there is no desperate need for immediate face-to-face interaction with a pharmacist – is around 50% of that generated through pharmacies and drugstores. While convenience is, of course, a major factor, price is also significant, as consumers are often able to save €15 on premium supplements online, with savings growing further on jumbo packs. It is also noticeable that many of these double-digit sales increases are being made by products positioned for Germany’s older consumers, in particular eye vitamins with Age Macular Degeneration positioning, joint health products – now equivalent to two-thirds of pharmacy turnover – as well as herbal memory & brain health, with several premium ginkgo-based options chalking up huge increases in 2014. For the potentially less mobile consumer in the 65+ age bracket, a steadily growing demographic in Germany, the home delivery element is crucial.
So just who are the online retailers making headway? German marketing agency Dr Kaske completed a survey analysis of the 15 largest in April 2015, scoring them according to price on a select basket of common OTCs, search engine optimisation, customer service, user-friendliness and, of course, actual visitor numbers. Leader in all categories was Shop-Apotheke, a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Europa Apotheek Venlo, although the more widely known DocMorris – sold by Celesio to Swiss pharmacy retailer Zur Rose in 2012 – was a close contender, featuring the best SEO. Medikamente-per-klick and Sanicare are also noteworthy, with the latter investing heavily in TV advertising in 2014.
For more insight into trends and developments in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, why not enquire about our monthly OTC INSIGHT Europe publication? Contact nino.hunter@NicholasHall.com.