RB, Mucinex team with Kinsa to track cold and flu symptoms, keep products in stock

RB and Mucinex are tracking cold and flu symptoms two ways this season.

RB is sponsoring WebMD’s online cold and flu tracker again, but this year it's turning up the heat with a new partnership with Kinsa smart thermometers. The team will use predictive data to keep store shelves stocked with Mucinex products and to create messages for consumers.

Mucinex’s partnership with Kinsa will use the latter's aggregated anonymized health data, including temperature, along with analytics to determine where and when to stock products ahead of cold and flu outbreaks. The custom GeoVitalPredictor will both inform RB’s supply chain management and help it create localized healthcare and advice messaging to consumers.

Empty pharmacy shelves and worries about supplies, including OTC meds, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic spurred development of the new tool, Claudine Patel, RB's vice president of marketing for upper respiratory in North America, said via email.

The predictor tool “was developed to ensure that consumers have access to the extensive portfolio of Mucinex relief remedies at the right time, no matter where or when illness strikes,” she said.

RELATED: RB brand Mucinex encourages healthy practices around COVID-19

Kinsa’s data come from its smart thermometer products, which connect to a mobile app where users can self-report additional symptoms. The anonymized information can forecast outbreaks and disease spread as far as 12 weeks in advance, the company says.

Kinsa expects to have than 2 million smart thermometers in circulation this fall, aggregating health insights from more than 4 million people.

The second way RB and Mucinex are tracking cold and flu is by again sponsoring WebMD’s cold and flu map of the U.S., which uses data self-reported to the WebMD Symptom Tracker to show where cases are low or high. The map updates regularly with locations—down to the county level—and detailed symptom reports, including cough, fever, sore throat, nasal congestion and runny nose.

The Mucinex website also features the map, which is co-sponsored by RB sibling brands Delsym, an over-the-counter cough remedy, and Lysol, the ubiquitous disinfectant and cleaner.

RELATED: Mucinex debuts as first OTC drug on TikTok app—and it was a mammoth hit

Two years ago, Kinsa faced media scrutiny for sharing its health data with advertiser Clorox. A New York Times article at the time quoted a consumer protection expert who said while Kinsa was handling the data in a compliant way, its business model pointed to the need for federal regulation.

Not everyone agreed. One commenter noted, “The data is anonymized and means the store isn't sold out of cough syrup when I show up sick and tired. This is a case when data-sharing is good.”