Independent community pharmacist and Alphega Pharmacy UK member Samina Khan explains her tactics for marketing winter remedies to customers

At this time of year when the flu jab service starts up again, I’m reminded to think about cough and cold remedies.

Promotion of these products in the pharmacy follows two main themes: products suitable for customers who already have symptoms, and products used to prevent colds and boost general wellbeing.

Many patients will recognise the symptoms of a cold and will seek remedies when they are suffering. We can promote sales by offering linked products, such as discounted tissues with sales of decongestants, or cough sweets alongside sore throat products. This way, I am promoting the sale of the accessory items rather than the medicines, which sits better with me, professionally.

The newer products, such as cold prevention sprays, are less familiar to customers, so these are the ones I promote using posters and information. Using the pharmacy’s window means we can also reach passing customers, who are prompted to purchase something if a colleague or family member has just developed symptoms.

Once interested, they can also be introduced to antibacterial hand rubs or wipes, as preventing the spread of germs and viruses goes a long way to staying healthy.

To promote the winter remedy category as a whole, it is worth making it more prominent once the cold weather starts. Reducing stock levels of traditional summer lines (such as sun creams) can
make space for a wider selection of cough and cold remedies and items to prevent infection.

Moving these lines to eye level or a more prominent area of shelving means the items make a visual prompt to purchase, but are also to hand when the pharmacy team are advising customers.

The increased shelf space means less time is spent bringing stock from the stock room and reduces the risk of lost sales. We make sure the whole team is aware of current advice and checks regularly to ensure there is sufficient stock.

Counter staff will be the main advisers for these products, but it is also worth making sure all colleagues have a comprehensive understanding of items and tips for keeping well. This is especially true of newer lines.

A staff meeting to bring everyone up to speed really helps the team know when each product is most effective and how different items can work together for best results.

It is tempting to think winter remedies will promote themselves. After all, we all get colds. But if a customer comes to us for a cold remedy, it would be galling to think they then bought tissues from the supermarket, just because they (and we) didn’t think of it at the time.

Samina Khan is a community pharmacist and Alphega Pharmacy UK member in Harrogate, North Yorkshire