How Allergy Brands Can Compete in eCommerce This Allergy Season


Allergy Season

Allergy season is currently in full swing. Depending on the region, seasonal allergies can start as early as February and last well into fall. As the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the nation, it impacts more than 50 million Americans every year, with symptoms ranging from coughs and head congestions to skin irritations. Many of these discomforts can be soothed and reduced with products from home care, personal care, and OTC pharma brands—products that consumers are increasingly purchasing online from ePharmacies.

There has never been a better time for allergy brands to develop new ways to optimize their eCommerce strategies. Due to continued social distancing in some regions and the growing popularity of online shopping, in-store foot traffic at pharmacy chains like Walgreens or CVS is on the decline. Instead, the ePharmacy market is expected to grow nearly 17 percent globally over the next five years, with OTC medicines expected to outpace online prescription drug sales. Here are some insights that can help brands trying to reach allergy sufferers who are making online purchases from the comfort of their homes. 

What does eCommerce for allergy season look like

Consumer habits are ever changing. Allergy season online shopping habits do not look like event driven buying occasions such as the Super Bowl, St. Patrick’s Day, or Cinco de Mayo. During event driven shopping occasions, consumer purchase intent tends to begin ramping weeks before, leading to several demand peaks prior to the event. 

In contrast, allergy season can last nearly half the year. It has a longer buying cycle, and consumers tend to make a limited number of purchases a year. After all, if you know that you’ll be needing medication every year for allergies, you would likely stock up, buy in bulk, and take advantage of discounts or maximize shipping charges. For allergy brands, taking an omnichannel approach to inventory management to serve online and in store demand is important throughout the entire allergy season. However, there’s a lot of optimization that can happen when brands know what their consumers are likely to buy and when they are likely to do so.

Want to learn about the essential eCommerce metrics for making smarter  decisions about future campaigns? Read the guide now!

1. Know what your consumers are looking for 

Shoppers tend to rely on different products for relief from different symptoms, from watery eyes to runny noses. This year, allergy relief products can include any of the following items:

  • Humidifiers
  • Eye drops
  • Air purifiers
  • Moisturizers
  • Nasal strips
  • Petroleum jelly 
  • Tissues
  • Saline solution
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Hypoallergenic bed sheets, comforters, and mattress pads

If your brand falls into any of the above categories, make sure your products are available and well stocked throughout the season. The discomfort of allergies results in shoppers needing immediate relief. Many of the essential item purchasing behaviors we observed during 2020, where the need was urgent, resulted in heightened consumer receptivity to substitutes and competitor products if the intended product was not available.

2. Encourage basket building to ensure eCommerce profitability

OTC products can meet challenges when it comes to ensuring eCommerce profitability. In response, brands can look into effective basket-building strategies, such as bundling or cross-promoting related items like tissues, eye drops, or vacuum cleaners. For example, if a consumer adds a daytime OTC allergy medicine to their cart, give them the opportunity to add the nighttime version of the same medicine to their cart with the click of a button. 

How do you know what items to cross promote? This may be a good time to look into your sales data to discover product adjacencies. What’s purchased together with your product at check out? How can this information be leveraged to grow and protect your market share? OTC pharma brands have been known to learn about their consumers by proactively engaging in social listening. Reading comments and questions regularly can help brands get to know their customers more intimately, gaining a better understanding of their ever-changing needs, and learning how to encourage larger basket sizes.

3. Get your product to your consumers quickly and easily

Over 50 percent of ePharmacy shoppers cited convenience as the motivating factor to make a purchase. This is likely because consumers are looking for relief when purchasing OTC products, including for allergies. The amount of time it takes for your products to get into the hands of the consumer and then used can be critical. That means delivery time and fulfillment flexibility are important product details when it comes to making purchases. Methods like BOPIS or or quick shipping should be made available. Allergy brands should also have omnichannel strategies incorporated in campaigns, and position information important to purchase consideration front and center in ads.

eCommerce for allergy brands can mimic impulse online purchases’ “need it now” mentality. Like impulse grocery purchases, allergy brands should pay attention not only to delivery time, but also to time-t0-consumption or time-to-use. 

The future of the eCommerce for allergy brands

Building an omnichannel strategy for an allergy brand may seem daunting, but there’s no reason to do it alone. Modern eCommerce technology can help you gather valuable insights to understand your consumers and how they make purchases, and respond in real time to changes in the industry that maximizes the return on your commerce investments.

Read our free guide, The Modern Digital Marketer’s Guide to eCommerce Performance Metrics, to learn more about which eCommerce metrics can be used to make smarter decisions about future campaigns.

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