Consumers Brace for Flu Season with Earlier Buying

Seasonal influenza was all but wiped out last year by social distancing measures designed to slow the spread of coronavirus. Now, as people return to restaurants, schools and offices, experts are forecasting a much more severe flu season this fall and winter. For brands, it’s an opportunity to deliver value to consumers as they stock up on cold and flu essentials for the months ahead.  

Flu Season Stock-Ups Started Early in 2021  

Quotient sales and social data show that, unlike typical years, 2021 cold and flu trends aren’t isolated to fall and winter months. Shoppers began searching for and purchasing at-home remedies, comfort food and cleaning supplies as early as April. 

Using 2019 as a baseline for comparison, product categories experiencing significant sales lift between April and July 2021 included Children’s Sore Throat and Flu Remedy (+500%), Herbal Tea (+226%) and Cold Antiseptic (+164%). Meanwhile, social keywords such as Soup (+100%) and Cold Medicine (+74%) saw gains in engagement over the same period. 

Likewise, with shoppers stocking up earlier on their preferred cold and flu products, some of these same trends have continued to peak as we approach the hustle and bustle of the winter holiday season. Comparing September 2021 to 2020, children’s cold and flu products like Sore Throat Remedy (+246%), Flu Remedy (+137%), Cough and Cold Syrups (+124%) and Cough/Cold Remedy (+121%) all experienced sales lifts. For adults, products like Sore Throat Remedy (+44%) and Flu Remedy (+31%) emerged as some of the top-selling over-the-counter items. 

To learn more about how you can connect with consumers during the 2021 cold and flu season and beyond, contact our team at