A new product will bring growth to supermarket health and beauty care shelves -- hair growth, that is.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this month gave approval to Pharmacia & Upjohn, Kalamazoo, Mich., to market Rogaine, a 2% minoxidil prescription hair regrowth treatment, over-the-counter. It is scheduled to ship in April at a suggested retail of $29.50, almost half the prescription cost.
Though the $29.50 price tag may be high for supermarkets, several retailers interviewed by SN don't think it will hamper sales.
"The price point won't matter to somebody who doesn't have hair, and who will do anything to get it," said Jim Denny, nonfood buyer at Dierbergs Markets, Chesterfield, Mo. "I think they will pay whatever it takes."
But retailers are concerned that Rogaine's high price point could lead to shrinkage. As a result, several plan to be cautious with their merchandising programs.
"Pharmacy may be the best place for Rogaine because other high- ticket products are there," said Chuck Witt, director of general merchandise and HBC at Certified Grocers Midwest, Chicago. He added that having a pharmacist nearby to answer any questions consumers have could help sales.
A 2-ounce, one-month supply of Rogaine will come in light blue packaging for men, and salmon for women. Each package will feature different illustrations and slightly different copy that addresses the
gender-specific hair loss patterns, a spokesman at Pharmacia & Upjohn told SN. Available by prescription since 1988 for men and 1991 for women, Rogaine is directed at people who experience baldness. It has OTC clearance in 12 countries.
Because the prescription and OTC formulations are identical, prescription Rogaine will be discontinued once the OTC version becomes available.
Denny of Dierbergs may merchandise it in hair care, where he feels it will gain attention from both men and women. "A lot of women have the [pattern baldness] problem. Many have dyed their hair too often, which has caused their hair to fall out," he said. Dierbergs also may cross-promote prepacks of Rogaine on the counter at pharmacy.
Not all retailers are optimistic about Rogaine's success. Although Mike Kilgallon, category manager for HBC at Genuardi's Family Markets, Norristown, Pa., hasn't had a manufacturer presentation yet, he is uncertain about how customers will respond to the OTC form of the product. "I think it will have a limited market, appealing basically to people who were already using it," he said. Kilgallon plans to carry Rogaine in the hair care section. Through the first nine months of 1995, U.S. sales of Rogaine reached $72 million. Arvind Desai, an analyst with Mehta & Isaly, New York, predicts that OTC Rogaine will have about 15% to 20% higher unit sales, which he attributes to greater awareness and accessibility of the product.
Desai said he doesn't think Pharmacia & Upjohn will promote Rogaine as heavily as SmithKline Beecham and Johnson & Johnson/Merck did for Tagamet HB and Pepcid AC. (Each company reportedly spent $100 million to support the products.) But he said it would have to spend at least $50 million to have a significant effect.