What you need to know

Sales of cough, cold, flu, and allergy remedies reached $7.9 billion in 2014, an increase of 16% between 2009 and 2014. Sales growth was driven by particularly severe flu seasons in 2012/13 and by the successful prescription-to-OTC launch of Nasacort in 2014. Mintel expects growth to continue on a slow and steady pace between 2014 and 2019 due to another prescription-to-OTC launch – that of Flonase in 2015 – and continued difficult flu and allergy seasons.

This report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Cough, Cold, Flu, and Allergy – US, April 2014, as well as Mintel’s Cold, Flu and Allergy Remedies – US, April 2013, and the 2011, 2007, 2005, and 2002 reports of the same title. Additional historic reports including Mintel’s Cough and Throat Remedies – US, May 2012, and May 2010, as well as Cough, Cold and Sore Throat Remedies – US, May 2009, and Cough and Throat Remedies – US, May 2008, February 2006, and Allergies and Allergy Remedies – US, February 2009 will also serve as a basis for this report.


This report covers remedies that can be purchased over the counter without a prescription to relieve symptoms of colds, flu, allergies, sore throat, coughs, and congestion.

  • Cold, flu, and sinus remedies including tablets, capsules, liquids, powders, and hot drinks for treating cold/flu and/or nasal and chest congestion. Nasal remedies include nasal strips and aspirators.

  • Cough/throat remedies, including cough/sore throat drops; cough syrups/sore throat liquids medicine.

  • Allergy remedies, including tablets, capsules, liquids, powders, and nasal sprays.

Sales of herbal and homeopathic medicines are discussed in this report, including sales data from SPINS covering natural channel supermarkets.

However, the market size is not inclusive of every herbal and homeopathic remedy used for treatment of cough, cold, flu, and allergy medicines, in part because many natural supplements are not labeled for specific medical conditions. The market size does cover sales of those herbal and homeopathic brands, such as Zicam, that are most likely to be found in mainstream retailers and can be identified as intended for use for the conditions discussed in this report.

Not included in the report

  • Internal and external pain relievers (see Analgesics – US, July 2013).

  • The “flu” (influenza) as discussed in this report is based on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) definition, which classifies the flu as a respiratory disease. Medicines intended to treat stomach ailments, including “stomach flu” are excluded from this report.

Value figures throughout this report are at retail selling prices (rsp) excluding sales tax unless otherwise stated.

Data sources

Sales data

  • Market Size and Forecast and Segment Performance: Total retail sales based on Information Resources, Inc. InfoScan Reviews; US Census Bureau, Economic Census; Progressive Grocer’s Consumer Expenditures Study; forecast developed by Mintel.

  • Retail Channels: based on Information Resources, Inc. InfoScan Reviews; US Census Bureau, Economic Census; Progressive Grocer’s Consumer Expenditures Study; except supermarket and drug store sales, which are based on Information Resources, Inc. InfoScan Reviews.

  • Leading Companies and Brand Shares: based on MULO sales data from Information Resources, Inc. InfoScan Reviews. MULO is defined as Multi Outlet, representative of the following channels: total US Grocery, Mass, total US Drug, total Walmart, Dollar, Military, and Club. Note that the values shown in this section differ from the Market Size/Forecast and Segment Performance sections of this report. Companies and brands sales data encompasses only sales through MULO channels, while Market Size/Forecast and Segment sales cover the entire retail market. IRI splits the market into three distinct segments – cold/flu/sinus, cough, and allergy. However, due to availability of brand level data, in the Company and Brand Share section, cold/flu/sinus is combined with allergy remedies into a single section and cough/throat remedies in a separate section.

  • Natural Supermarket Sales: based on SPINSscan Natural tracking sales of UPC-coded products sold in the natural supermarket channel.

Consumer survey data

For the purposes of this report, Mintel commissioned exclusive consumer research through Lightspeed GMI to explore consumer use of and attitudes toward cough, cold, flu, and allergy remedies. Mintel was responsible for the survey design, data analysis, and reporting. Fieldwork was conducted in January 2015 among a sample of 2,000 adults aged 18+ with access to the internet.

Mintel selects survey respondents by gender, age, household income, and region so that they are proportionally representative of the US adult population using the internet. Mintel also slightly over-samples, relative to the population, respondents that are Hispanic or Black to ensure an adequate representation of these groups in our survey results and to allow for more precise parameter estimates from our reported findings. Please note that Mintel surveys are conducted online and in English only. Hispanics who are not online and/or do not speak English are not included in the survey results.

Mintel has also analyzed data from Experian Marketing Services, using the Simmons National Consumer Study (NCS), the Simmons National Hispanic Consumer Study (NHCS).

The Experian Marketing Services, Simmons NCS/NHCS was carried out during August 2013-September 2014 and the results are based on the sample of 14,150 adults aged 18+, with results weighted to represent the US adult population.

While race and Hispanic origin are separate demographic characteristics, Mintel often compares them to each other. Please note that the responses for race (White, Black, Asian, Native American, or other race) will overlap those that also are Hispanic, because Hispanics can be of any race.

Abbreviations and terms


The following is a list of abbreviations used in this report.

CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
CHPA Consumer Health Products Association
CPI Consumer Price Index
FDA US Food and Drug Administration
GNPD Global New Products Database
MULO Multi Outlet, representative of the following channels: total US Grocery, Mass, total US Drug, total Walmart, Dollar, Military, and Club
NACS National Association of Convenience Stores
NHCS National Consumer Study/National Hispanic Consumer Study (Experian Marketing Services)
: :
: :


Ailment sufferer In the context of this report, an adult who suffers from any of the ailments covered in this report including cough, cold, sore throat, flu, or allergy (indoor or outdoor).

Generations, if discussed within this report, are defined as:

World War II/Swing generation Members of the WWII generation were born in 1932 or before and are aged 83 or older in 2015. Members of the Swing Generation were born between 1933 and 1945 and are aged 70-82 in 2015.
Baby Boomers The generation born between 1946 and 1964. In 2015, Baby Boomers are between the ages of 51 and 69.
Generation X The generation born between 1965 and 1976. In 2015, Gen Xers are between the ages of 39 and 50.
Millennials* The generation born between 1977 and 1994. In 2015, Millennials are between the ages of 21 and 38.
iGeneration The generation born between 1995 and 2007. In 2015, iGens are between the ages of eight and 20.
Emerging generation The newest generation began in 2008 as the annual number of births declined sharply with the recession. In 2015 members of this as-yet unnamed generation are younger than age eight.

In order to provide an inflation-adjusted price value for markets, Mintel uses the CPI to deflate current prices. The CPI is defined as follows:

CPI The Consumer Price Index is a measure of the average change over time in the prices paid by urban consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services.

The CPI and its components are typically used to adjust other economic series for price changes and to translate these series into inflation-free dollars. Examples of series adjusted by the CPI include retail sales, hourly and weekly earnings, and components of the national income and product accounts. In addition, and in Mintel reports, the CPI is used as a deflator of the value of the consumer’s dollar to find its purchasing power. The purchasing power of the consumer’s dollar measures the change in the value to the consumer of goods and services that a dollar will buy at different dates.

The CPI is generally the best measure for adjusting payments to consumers when the intent is to allow consumers to purchase, at today’s prices, a market basket of goods and services equivalent to one that they could purchase in an earlier period. It is also the best measure to use to translate retail sales into real or inflation-free dollars.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics definition.

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