Cough, Colds & Flu Season [Shopper Insights]

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We surveyed 500 shoppers to understand several timely questions about cough, cold, and flu shopping and purchase activity. 

Sneezing, coughing, and runny noses are here. And as temperatures fall, sales of medications, tissues, “clear liquids,” and other treatments will inevitably rise. It’s all part of the joys of the wintery season.

To help brands and retailers prepare for the quickly approaching rush of those under-the-weather shoppers, we surveyed 500 of our Agents to explore several important questions about cough, cold, and flu shopping.


Majority of people purchase OTC (over-the-counter) medications to prepare for the cough/cold season, with buying vitamins as a preventative measure the second most common preparation. About a third say that amongst other preparations they take immunity boosters, limit exposure to people or stock up on hand sanitiser as methods to limit their likelihood of getting a cough / cold.

9 in 10 participants stated that they use up to 4 OTC remedies to treat a cold / cough with about 2/3 saying they use between 2 and 4 OTC products.

54% said that they always keep cough/cold remedies on hand with the other 46% saying they buy when needed.


When choosing what product to purchase, just over half (54%) base their decision on the cough/cold by symptom, with just under a quarter purchasing by brand (22%). When treating cough / colds very few made price a priority; seemingly getting the right medication to do the job being more important.


Preferred brands are Panadol (60%), Strepsils (56%), Codral and Nurofen (53%) and Vicks (48%). This is not surprising given each of these brands are a market leader in the way they treat cough / cold symptoms. Perhaps this is indicative of the importance of brand equity and trust in a brand when one is feeling unwell and/or vulnerable.


When shopping for cough/cold remedies, the majority of people prefer to shop at a chemist (79%) as opposed to supermarkets or other retailers (21%).

With pharmacy the preferred choice, we drilled down to see that an overwhelming 54% shop at Chemist Warehouse compared to the other pharmacy retailers. There is a perception not only of ‘value for money’, but that this all in one chemist format will have everything they need under one roof.


Almost 3/4 of people say the making cleaning more often a priority when cough/colds strike in their household. This suggests that people may be more concerned with the cleanliness of their surrounds to keep coughs / colds at bay as opposed to keeping their health at its prime.


More than half of people say they “tough it out” and go to work/school; with the balance equally divided between treating their symptoms and staying home to rest and get better. Perhaps this is indicative that the ‘little Aussie battler’ mentality is still strong, even in modern Australia!


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