Alibaba and Walmart report strong Q2

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Our blog this week rounds up the latest retail news, including recent Q2 results from Walmart and Alibaba, and a focus on M&A activity in Asia-Pacific. China’s Alibaba trumped analysts’ expectations with a 42% year-on-year jump in quarterly revenues to Rmb114.92bn (US$16.3bn), contrasting with its rival Tencent which one day earlier disappointed the market by falling short with a more modest quarterly growth (though Tencent did report a 26% year-on-year increase in profit).

Alibaba’s CEO, Daniel Zhang, said the company “had a great quarter, expanding our user base to 674mn annual active consumers, and demonstrating our superior user experience. We will continue to expand our customer base, increase operating efficiency and deliver robust growth. With strong cashflow from our core e-commerce business, we will continue to invest in technology and bring digital transformation to millions of businesses globally.” 

Alibaba is also reportedly looking to acquire Kaola’s cross-border online shopping platform from rival NetEase, according to two people familiar with the matter, as China’s highly competitive US$2tn e-commerce market takes early steps towards consolidation.  

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Meanwhile, Walmart has raised its outlook for the USA and said US consumers were in “solid” financial health as it shrugged off the Trump administration’s trade war with Beijing and turmoil elsewhere in bricks-and-mortar retail. Walmart revenues rose by 1.8% in fiscal Q2 2020 to US$130bn (+2.9% on a constant currency basis). USA sales were US$85.2bn (+2.9%) and the retailer noted that it is gaining market share in key categories, including health & wellness; e-commerce sales grew by 37%. International sales fell by 1.1% to US$29.1bn (+3.3% excluding currency impacts). Strength in Mexican subsidiary Walmex and China were offset by softness in UK and Canada. 

In Brazil, No.1 drugstore chain RaiaDrogasil (RD) reported better than expected results, seeing its national share rise to 13% in Q2 2019 (up 1.6% vs Q2 2018). Another drugstore chain quickly gaining share in Brazil is Farmarcas, which looks set to become the No.4 ranked chain by end-2019 after reporting even stronger results than RD, putting pressure on established players Drogaria DPSP and Pague Menos.

As for M&A activity:

• In Japan, drugstore operator Cocokara Fine is pursuing a merger with rival Matsumotokiyoshi in a deal that could create a market leader with sales of around ¥1tn (US$9.4bn)

• Amazon, which is looking to boost its bricks & mortar presence in the fast-growing Indian market, is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire up to 10% of Future Retail, the country’s No.2 retailer

• AS Watson (an affiliate of CK Hutchison Holdings) is in talks with potential partners in UAE with a view to introducing its health & beauty stores there

Take a look at the evolution of Pharmacy and Pharmacy Point-of-Care in the Distribution chapter in our new report, Nicholas Hall’s New Paradigms for CHC 2019: Over the Horizon, written by Nicholas himself! Other chapters will include Healthcare Trends, Regulation, Digital engagement amongst many others. Nicholas will also unveil the 15 “Infinity Zones” he has identified as being crucial to the future growth of the industry. You can upgrade your purchase to include a customised in-house presentation or webinar with Nicholas for an additional GB£10,000. To find out more or to pre-order your copy, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

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New technology and innovation to revive acne sales?

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For several years, the OTC acne remedies category has been in the doldrums. Global sales grew by just 1.9% in 2018, and the CAGR for the subcategory over the 2014-18 period is a lowly 1.6%. This poor performance is largely related to the US market, where sales of acne remedies fell by 1.4% to US$514mn in 2018.

That’s why the recent news that L’Oréal’s skin care brand, La Roche Posay, has introduced Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment, is very timely. Retailing for US$29.99 for a 45g tube, the topical retinoid once-daily medication is indicated for the treatment of acne in people aged 12+. The brand has also launched La Roche-Posay My Skin Track PoreScan, an AI-powered skin analysis tool (similar to Effaclar Spotscan, launched earlier in 2019) that can make personalised skincare recommendations for those concerned with clogged pores, raised imperfections and residual marks. 

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OTC.NewDirection‘s Consulting Editor, Nina Stimson, commented: “This is a major step for La Roche Posay and parent, L’Oréal, known worldwide primarily as a cosmetics player. Adapalene’s switch to OTC (at 0.1% Rx strength) as Differin Gel (Galderma / Nestlé) was approved in the USA in July 2016 as the first retinoid drug for the OTC treatment of acne, with adapalene acknowledged as the first new active ingredient for that OTC indication since the 1980s. This launch comes exactly three years later, as Differin’s exclusivity ends, and sees La Roche Posay / L’Oréal move right to the front line of registered OTC acne treatment. Differin Gel OTC sales have probably disappointed against expectations (although Nestlé’s Proactiv has also added an adapalene option to its DTC lineup) and other adapalene gels will undoubtedly also appear on US store shelves. Full marks to L’Oréal for prompt action.

There are also signs of renewed dynamism in Latin America thanks to strong investment in NPD from key marketers like Genomma. In June 2019, the company unveiled an innovative new acne remedy, Asepxia Maquiagem Liquida Autoajustavel, which features a unique technology that allows the product to adapt to various skin tones. Sold as a 30ml liquid, this latest addition to the Asepxia line is positioned to reduce acne and even skin tone, as well as mattify the skin and cover blemishes. New technology and innovation hold the key to unlocking future growth in this important OTC subcategory.

Birgit Schuhbauer, VP Global Franchise OTC and EMEA Region at J&J will take to the stage at Nicholas Hall’s OTC.NewDirections Executive Conference to explore how, with new consumer marketing opportunities with digital tools, we are Getting Closer to the Consumer than Ever. Taking place in London on 14 November 2019, the meeting will ultimately focus on the latest CHC Innovations and Technologies with presentations from companies also including Bayer, Prohibition Partners and Mundipharma. Save when you reserve your place now at the early bird booking rate. For more information, or to book your place, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com.

PPoC initiatives key to future CHC growth

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For the final instalment in our series of blogs on Nicholas Hall’s Infinity Zones for future CHC growth, we turn to the topic of Pharmacy Point-of-Care (PPoC). As our recent blog on e-commerce indicated, internet & mail order sales of OTCs are growing fast but store-based sales still account for 78% of the global OTC market. In an increasing number of markets, PPoC initiatives are providing new, speedy and effective alternatives for consumers unable or unwilling to wait for a GP appointment. Below is a summary of some PPoC initiatives in recent years from all four corners of the globe.

In February 2019, PTS Diagnostics and Kroger Health, which operates 2,100+ pharmacies and clinics in the USA, announced the full rollout of CardioChek Plus analysers for point-of-care blood testing to help identify individuals at risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes. The CardioChek Plus system accurately tests lipid profile and glucose simultaneously with one fingerstick, enabling a more seamless process for the customer. It measures total and HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose, providing on-site results in as little as 90 seconds.

In Vietnam, Chris Blank and his team at Pharmacity have the ambition to reach 1,000 stores in just 1,000 days. But, as Nicholas Hall said, it’s more than just store openings that is propelling Pharmacity to national dominance – it has carefully figured out the offline and online needs of its customers and is working hard to build traffic in each store, so the proposition is for vertical as well as horizontal growth. Ultimately, Pharmacity will succeed by delivering holistic PPoC solutions to the unmet health needs of its customers.

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Turning to Europe, LloydsPharmacy (Celesio / McKesson) started offering sore throat tests for people aged 18+ years in 600 stores across England, Scotland and Wales in November 2018. Pharmacists ask questions and examine the throat to determine the possible cause of pain. If necessary, they will take a swab test to check for infection. If the results are negative for Streptococcus A, the pharmacist is able to offer advice, as well as a range of OTC treatments.

As for Latin America, Brazil’s ANVISA approved a resolution in late 2017 that allows any health establishment nationally, including pharmacies and drugstores, to administer vaccinations, providing that they meet certain requirements. This follows a number of local legislation changes permitting pharmacies to offer a greater number of services – among them, the application of vaccines, health monitoring with point-of-care testing and self-test equipment – in the states of Sao Paulo, Amazonas, Para, the Federal District and the city of Sao Paulo in November-December 2017.

Don’t miss out on your final chance to benefit from our pre-publication discount when you pre-order Nicholas Hall’s New Paradigms for CHC 2019: Over the Horizon, written by Nicholas himself! Analyse each aspect of the CHC industry, with a focus on crucial issues including Healthcare trends, Innovation, M&A, Switch and much more. Nicholas will also unveil all the “infinity zones” he has identified as being paramount to the future growth of the industry. In addition to this, you can upgrade your purchase to include a customised in-house presentation or webinar with Nicholas. To find out more or to place your order, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

OTC Innovation Report 2018

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Lamenting the fact that Scott Gottlieb is stepping down as FDA Commissioner, Nicholas Hall commented in Friday’s OTC.Newsflash that: “Although producing few tangible results so far, FDA under Gottlieb has displayed a greater openness to finding new switch models at a lower cost and with shorter lead times, including the use of new technologies.” Nicholas Hall also said that “government support is vital to our industry” and that “more liberal regulations are at the heart of a successful self-care sector”.

A drop-off in switch activity over the past year is part of the explanation for lower levels of high-quality OTC innovation. In 2018, OTC New Products Tracker awarded just six products with 4 stars – eye care brands Lumify (USA) and Zabak Eye Drops (Poland), antacid Reza Band (USA) and antispasmodic Scopolan Compositum (Poland), plus Viagra Connect (UK) and allergy remedy Talerc (Brazil). Compared to previous years, this marked a falling-off in terms of 4-star innovations.

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The number of total OTC innovations (3,747) in 2018 was roughly in line with the previous year, and still much higher compared to 2014, 2015 and 2016. However, the number of 2* (528), 3* (94) and 4* (6) innovations was much lower, while the number of 1* innovations (3,119) was at an all-time high.

VMS continues to be a major source of innovation, with three of the Top 5 subcategories in 2018 – probiotics, multivitamins and hair & beauty supplements. Derma is another key source of innovation, with three of the Top 10 – acne remedies, eczema & psoriasis and lip care. The three other innovative subcategories which complete the Top 10 are sedatives & sleep aids, topical analgesics and sore throat.

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Please contact us for the full report. You can also review 17,000+ new launches and innovations with OTC New Products Tracker, the ultimate competitive intelligence tool! Products are given a star rating, with “me too” items ranked 1*; launches / line extensions in a new category / adjacency 2*; major launches / line extensions with strong new benefits / positioning 3*, and 1st Rx-to-OTC switches in a category, creation of a new OTC class or other major leaps in innovation 4*. With a recently-released major update including eye-catching new graphics and powerful search filters that help you visualise and explore the vast archive according to your exact requirements, now is the ideal time to set up your free trial. For a demo or more information, contact waisan.lee-gabell@NicholasHall.com.

Latin America: Focus on Brazil

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Nicholas Hall’s 4th Latin American Consumer Healthcare Conference was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil last week and attracted a large and enthusiastic audience. This vitality is reflected in OTC growth trends – according to the latest MAT Q3 2018 figures, which will be published along with trend reports on the OTC DASHBOARD website soon, Latin America remains the fastest-growing region in the global OTC market, with sales up 12.8% to US$8.5bn in the year to end-September 2018.

Brazil is at the heart of this upturn, as shown by our chart below displaying the Top 5 countries in the region. Brazil’s OTC market is enjoying continued double-digit growth, and accounts for almost half of regional turnover, ahead of Mexico and Colombia. There is currently a proposal to create a legal mass market for CHC products in Brazil, which could provide further fuel for OTC growth, however there is currently strong opposition from doctors, pharmacists and, surprisingly, consumer associations, so the proposal is unlikely to be approved in its present form.

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Here’s a brief roundup of all presentations at our 4th Latin American Consumer Healthcare Conference – a fuller review will be in the next issue of OTC INSIGHT Latina:

  • Juan Thompson (ILAR): Huge savings for public health systems could be made by encouraging OTC treatment of common, non-serious conditions, thereby reducing public expenses.
  • Andre di Donato (MyPharma2go): By understanding the intricacies of the region’s regulatory systems, we can take advantage of legislation, rather than being restricted by it, and gain in-depth market insights. In particular, MyPharma2go is detailing Brazilian doctors to write prescriptions for high-strength supplements imported from the USA, which are delivered to individual consumers / patients in under 14 days — in the case of Celebrity Vitamins, the company is generating 2,000 prescriptions a day.
  • Rodrigo Ribeiro (GSK): Recommendation is the most powerful tool we have, so we cannot underestimate the importance of investing in HCP promotion and education, in addition to informative consumer-oriented advertising.
  • Tatiana Raposo Pires (Herbalife): It is likely that the food supplements industry in Brazil will benefit greatly from ANVISA’s new category definition, including specific and simplified legislation; however, there are still some obstacles to overcome, particularly relating to probiotics, which offer high-growth potential.
  • Rodrigo Garcia (Pfizer): There are many regulatory barriers to switch in LatAm, including political and social; but public education and encouraging regulatory agencies to recognise increasing consumer understanding of OTCs are key to pushing for switch.
  • Rosana Sun (Adigo) reminded us of the importance of human emotions and the essential human differences in developing relationships and interacting with others in the business world.
  • Julio Cesar do Monte (J&J): In order to survive in a changing and increasingly-digitalised environment, companies need to remain open and flexible to change, looking to technology for new ways to gain a competitive advantage.
  • Keith Garrity: Outsourcing and brand fostering is increasingly popular as part of companies’ global growth strategy, recognising the importance of local nuance and market specifics.

Stay up to date with the latest trends and developments impacting Latin America in Nicholas Hall’s OTC INSIGHT Latin America. This bi-monthly publication includes new product activity, recent LatAM news, a global OTC update and much more. To receive a sample issue or for details of subscription rates, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com

Sleep disorders on the rise globally

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According to a new in-depth analysis of the global sleep aids market by Nicholas Hall’s Reports, sleeplessness and sleep disorders are on the rise, with approximately one third of the world’s population affected. Many consumers are happy to self-medicate, increasingly opting for a variety of herbal & natural, homeopathic and medical device brands, driving OTC growth in key markets like Brazil and Spain (see sample pages).

In terms of sales, sleep aids & sedatives generate an OTC total of over US$2.3bn globally, but have been characterised by low growth in recent years, and are in need of rejuvenation via new product development, adjacencies or connected health solutions. The self-medication sleep aids market (registered OTCs and a variety of supplements) also suffers from regulatory diversity across markets for common sleep aid ingredients.

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Genuine innovation is thin on the ground, but generics and “me-toos” launch frequently. Adjacencies focused on sleep offer alternatives, with other categories also entering the fray including nighttime analgesics, cough & cold remedies, menopause and other supplements. Connected Health is a key area of expansion. Sleep aid brands partnered with technology – passive (e.g. analysing sleep patterns / providing feedback) or active (improving sleep) – may break the low-growth cycle.

Comment from Ian Crook, Managing Editor, Nicholas Hall’s Reports: Sleep is a health area that lends itself easily to self-medication via sedating antihistamines and herbal & natural ingredients such as melatonin and valerian, while medical devices and digital health focused on sleep are seeing increased investment. With widespread concern over the “sleep loss epidemic” and significant implications for overall health from lack of sleep, it is imperative that consumers have access to tools to help them sleep. Raised levels of stress, anxiety and smartphone / tablet use ensure rising demand that can be tapped into by the right self-care solutions.

The full report, Sleep: Exploring Opportunities for Growth in Sleep Aids & Sedatives, is available now and more details can be found here. To order your copy, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com

Q3 2017: Global OTC growth stays at 4.7%

According to the latest figures published by Nicholas Hall’s global OTC sales database DB6, the OTC market maintained 4.6% growth in MAT Q3 2017. Commenting on the results, DB6 VP Celine Waller said: “Russia remained the fastest-growing leading market, though its growth slowed slightly compared to MAT Q2 2017 (+17.3%). Brazil and Turkey (+13.1%) also both achieved double-digit growth. Growth in the US increased marginally, with an improved performance in cough & cold offset by continued weakness in gastrointestinals and dermatologicals. France and Australia (-0.7%) remained in decline – France owing to the poor performance of the large OTx sector and reverse switch of some cough ingredients, and Australia driven by a slowdown in demand from Chinese consumers buying VMS products for resale in China (daigou or ‘suitcase entrepreneurs’).”

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Though OTC growth remains high in many of the Emerging Markets, the established markets of North America, Japan (+0.6%) and western Europe – notably Germany (+1.8%), France (-1.2%), Italy (+2.0) and UK (+1.7%) – remain relatively flat. Innovative Rx-to-OTC switches, such as the UK MHRA’s recent approval of the POM-to-P reclassification of Viagra Connect, or the emergence of new OTC categories, such as e-cigarettes or medical cannabis, offer the most promising route back to growth for many of these established OTC markets.

Nicholas Hall said: “Q3 data confirms 4.6% as the baseline for CHC growth, and frankly it’s not good enough!! Only the sleepiest or most risk-averse companies will accept competing in a market where growth is only modestly ahead of inflation + higher population. That is why the first serious step by Pfizer to switch Viagra is so important. Since we made our first detailed review of the ED category for a Big Pharma client exactly 5 years ago, we have been convinced that Viagra is potentially the world’s largest consumer health brand. Some might say that it already is, although that would be true only for the use of the Viagra brand name on the internet as most of the blue pills sold in that channel are not from Pfizer. As a legitimate CHC category, and with recreational use included — which Big Pharma companies dislike as they see ED brands as treatments — the overall CHC reproductive health category, including ED brands, condoms, oral contraceptives, EHC and conception products and diagnostics, could easily reach sales of US$20bn at MSP in all channels of distribution.”