Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

CNS has just the thing for a stuffy nose this winter, and we have Wal-Mart to thank for it. The marketer of Breathe Right nasal strips is rolling out Breathe Right Stuffy Nose Kit nationally through a partnership with private-label manufacturer Perrigo Corp. The kit, which bowed in 10 major retail chains last winter, includes a bottle of private-label nasal spray and two Breathe Right strips. The real benefit for CNS is getting two more facings and strengthening ties with stores.

“You can’t get any closer to the retailer,” says CNS director of marketing Kirk Hodgdon. “This marries our brand with the retailer’s brand.”

The benefit to retailers is a hot-selling brand with $20 million in marketing support to jumpstart a sleepy category.

Which is exactly what Wal-Mart had in mind.

Wal-Mart called Perrigo last year when Breathe Right strips were selling far better than Wal-Mart’s Equate nasal spray. Wal-Mart asked Perrigo, which makes the spray, to see if CNS would provide Breathe Right samples for an on-pack promotion. It was bad math to give away a $1 sample with a $2.50 product, but CNS liked the idea of co-branding. CNS worked with Perrigo to develop the Stuffy Nose Kit as a permanent product rather than a promotional pack.

“Retailers are always looking for value-added stuff, something they can put in the box that they don’t currently have,” Hodgdon says. “This isn’t a huge product for them or for us, but it gives us more exposure for the brand, and Perrigo gets more items on the shelf.”

CNS also avoided slotting fees by partnering with a private-label manufacturer. After all, retailers don’t charge themselves to put their own store brands on the shelf. What’s more, a number of retailers advertised the kit in their circulars without additional money from CNS.

Most retailers are shelving the Stuffy Nose Kit in the cough/cold aisle, while others are putting up displays in secondary locations for short-term sell-through. Ironically, Wal-Mart is one of the few Perrigo customers that isn’t stocking the Stuffy Nose Kit this year. Wal-Mart created its own bonus pack, with two Breathe Right sample strips, a Perrigo rep says.

Promotion as precursor

CNS tested the co-promotion waters in 1996 and again last year in an on-pack and joint-FSI offer with McNeil Consumer Products’ Tylenol PM. The FSI – headlined “Rest easy. Snore less” – combined each brand’s tagline and ran side-by-side coupons that didn’t require a combined purchase. Each brand carried cross-ruff samples on-pack.

An assistant brand manager at McNeil called Hodgdon to suggest the young Breathe Right brand and the established Tylenol name could benefit from each other’s company. The joint effort generated trial for each brand, but won’t run this year because “it’s not newsworthy anymore,” Hodgdon says.

Instead, CNS is throwing its muscle behind two new Breathe Right products: A pillow cover, and a saline nasal spray, both shelved in the cough/cold remedies aisle. CNS told retail buyers the allergen-barrier pillow covers could bring incremental business from an entirely new segment – linens. CNS will cross-promote Breathe Right pillow covers with other Breathe Right items, and perhaps other cough and cold brands. All products are supported by a $20 million ad and promo campaign via Campbell-Mithun-Esty, Minneapolis.

Breathe Right needs the boost. The brand dominates the $68 million nasal strip category with an 89 percent share, but sales fell 11.3 percent to $60.5 million for 52 weeks ended Sept. 13, according to Information Resources Inc. New entries such as Clear Passage and Airmax are chipping away at Breathe Right’s lead. Broadening the brand beyond strips could solidify its dominance, and convince retailers they don’t need other nasal strips on the shelf.

The jury’s out on how retailers will react to Breathe Right brand saline nasal spray, but Perrigo likes the notion. It’s making the spray for CNS.

Got a question for retail buyers that you’re too shy to ask? We’ll do it for you. Promo Edge’s Retail Research Center will survey buyers around the country on your questions, and we’ll print their answers here. Stores get promos they want, and your work hits the aisle instead of the scrap pile. Supermarket, drug, mass-merch – choose your channel, and fire away.

Q: My meal solutions plan involves produce and meat. What P-O-P vehicles should I use to cross-promote my product in your meat and produce departments, and what should I avoid?

A: Grocers welcome P-O-P in both areas, as long as it’s moisture-repellent and durable.

Supermarket retailers face moisture concerns in both the produce and meat departments. Because produce is routinely misted to maintain freshness, and condensation goes hand-in-hand with meat refrigeration, P-O-P must be waterproof.

Most supermarkets Promo Edge surveyed accept plastic danglers and wobblers in produce and meat departments. Several respondents also welcome standees in the produce department if water-repellent at the base. Standees or displays in general are used on the outside edges of the produce department.

Meat departments are stricter because of space limitations and health regulations. Retailers prefer static clings for seafood and meat cases, as well as hanging mobiles and meat dividers.

One P-O-P component to avoid in both meat and produce departments is floor graphics. Because of moisture in these departments, grocers are concerned about liability.

A few retailers said they don’t accept outside P-O-P because they prefer to use their own internal signage.

Promo Edge is a manufacturer of in-store promotional products and a division of Menasha Corp., Neenah, WI. Its Retail Research Center conducts consumer and trade research in all channels of trade. Its database includes 90 top supermarket chains and the leading 15 drugstore chains as well as mass merchandise, c-store, and specialty retailers.

E-mail your questions to Betsy Spethmann at, or fax to (507) 645-9504.


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