New research establishes importance of 'beacon' OTC brands

CHICAGO Well-established national brands, or “beacon brands,” are crucial in attracting shoppers to a particular set, especially when merchandised as a brand block, according to new research from McNeil Consumer Healthcare presented during the Institute for International Research’s recent Shopper Insights in Action conference.

The objective of McNeil’s research was to learn more about the “shopability” of over-the-counter medicines, and uncover suggestions for better messaging and other communication strategies at the shelf, according to published reports.



Focusing specifically on the shopability of analgesics, cough-cold and digestives, McNeil found that broad selection and small packaging actually served as an intimidating factor, leaving shoppers overwhelmed and/or confused.

Appropriate category synergies and improved navigational messaging were cited as examples of how to improve the shopability of a particular category, especially considering consumers oftentimes shop intuitively by symptom rather than category, according to the research. The majority of consumers surveyed as part of the research (81%), also suggested more information, both on the packaging and on shelf, would serve to help them better navigate an OTC category.

Many shoppers also suggested that they identified where to shop for a particular condition by seeking out brand-blocked beacon brands, or highly recognizable brands. “We recommend using beacon brands at top of the shelf to draw people in,” Michael Pishvanov, associate director of Shopper Marketing Sales Strategy at McNeil Consumer Healthcare, told attendees at the conference. “So, from 30 ft. away, somebody can look and – even if they can’t speak English – realize what that category is.”

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