I have had my fair share of sniffles, colds and flu over the years so in the last 60 years I have consumed a LOT of head-clearing and throat soothing products. And there used to be a lot of different ones. But now there is not. In my local supermarket here in Australia, there are only umpteen variations of Strepsils. And in my local pharmacy, it’s much the same, though there is a tiny corner where they stock a few of the “old” medications.

How come? Are Strepsils any better than the others? Not as far as I can see. It all seems to be a triumph of marketing. Strepsils are made by Reckitt Benckiser, a British company headed by Bart Becht, a livewire Dutchman. And, partly by providing so many variations of his product, he seems to have convinced retailers that they meet all consumer needs by stocking and displaying Strepsils exclusively.

I don’t like that for a variety of reasons and it is a real wonder to me that the other manufacturers haven’t used the anti-monopoly laws to slow down Meneer Becht. Some of the “squeezed out” products below:

The fascinating thing is that all four of the above products are made by Nestle, who are another big gorilla in various fields. One would think that they had deep enough pockets to take on Meneer Becht in the courts. I wonder if the two firms have come to an agreement not to encroach on one-another’s territory? Such an agreement would be illegal under trade practices laws in most countries so I guess we may never find out about any such agreement.

I also note that on my Strepsils packet there are NO details of what the pharmaceutical ingredients are. I would have thought that that too would run foul of labelling laws, particularly in a pharmaceutical prouduct. Meneer Becht sure must be a sharp operator.

Update:

I note that the alternative products ARE in fact available in my local supermarket — but in the confectionery department rather than in the medications department. That is still pretty clever as a person with a cold would be much more likely to head for the medications department rather than the confectionery department.

I imagine that Meneer Becht has managed to get privileged placement for his product on the grounds that Strepsils contain an antibacterial agent. But even on the Strepsils packet it admits that the benefit of the agent “has not been clinically established”.

So people are maneuvered into buying Strepsils when a cheaper product would be just as good.

Posted by John Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see TONGUE-TIED. Also, don’t forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here

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