Something to sneeze at

An over-the-counter version of the antihistamine Allegra hit the marketplace this past Friday amid a promotional frenzy that was consistent with the approach taken when similar products such as Claritin and Zyrtec became available without a prescription. As was the case with other products before it, retailers are eager to get their share of sales so there tends to be considerable activity around the launch.

For example, Walmart last week ran an ad during an America Idol announcing it would have the product, and then this past weekend Allegra was featured in numerous retailers’ Sunday circulars. Target took that approach, but didn’t go crazy. It featured a small ad for Allegra on the bottom of page 16 of a 24-page circular at $17.99 for the standard 30-count package. However, the company prominently featured the brand on an endcap near its pharmacies.

Walgreens also offered Allegra at $17.99 but was more ambitious in stores utilizing an Allegra branded purple archway that extended across two endcaps. The company also offered an in-store coupon that reduced the price by $3. Rival CVS was even more aggressive on the pricing front, beating rivals by 10 cents in its featured price $17.88. CVS also featured the brand on the cover of its circular, but promoted an “after savings” prices of $8.88 by noting shoppers could receive $5 in Extra Bucks rewards good for use on their next purchase and further reduce the price with a $4 manufacturer’s coupon that was in most Sunday newspapers. Kmart included Allegra on the back page of its circular for $17.99, but the image was small and easily lost amid the dozens of other featured items.