DSN Retail Excellence Awards — OTC
BY Carol Radice
When it comes to OTC products, there is neither a shortage of products nor companies that make them.
But there are a select few that stand apart from the crowd, who refuse to settle and constantly innovate. It is these innovations that are changing the way people see OTC and helping drive sales.
In current marketing terms, these companies are called disruptors — a term that one group has described as someone with the foresight to identify the needs of an ever-changing market and then meet those needs more effectively.
These disruptors are driven by a need to offer something different and to create better OTC products and services that are more imaginative, beneficial and impactful.
For these companies, the words “business as usual” simply don’t apply. This month, Drug Store News’ Retail Excellence Awards recognize the exceptional leaders in their field who are disrupting the OTC world.
Bausch + Lomb
Bausch + Lomb, headquartered in Bridgewater, N.J., has shown consistent year-over-year growth across the company’s OTC brands while driving profitability within competitive categories. To date, it is estimated that more than 30 million U.S.-based consumers use B+L products every day, which officials said can be best attributed to the company’s patient-centric mind-set.
Company officials noted that each product or product enhancement is developed based on an unmet consumer need and built on a deep understanding of today’s consumer. This approach helps the company continually bring meaningful innovation to the market. Most recently, this innovation has resulted in an exciting Rx-to-OTC switch for redness reliever Lumify.
In addition, the company recently expanded its leading vitamin for age-related macular degeneration, PreserVision AREDS2, through the upcoming launch of PreserVision AREDS 2 Chewable Tablets. Finally, B+L capitalized on the growth of Soothe XP Dry Eye Drops by launching Sooth XP Preservative Free Dry Eye Drops.
“We look forward to continuing this innovation throughout 2018, while continuing to meet the needs of the patients that have come to rely on Bausch + Lomb as a trusted eye care brand,” said Joe Gordon, president of consumer healthcare and vision care at Bausch + Lomb.
People may not be familiar with the name Clarion Brands, but they likely are familiar with several of the company’s products, which include Albolene, Absorbine Jr. and Anti Monkey Butt Powder.
With only seven brands, its product portfolio also may not be the largest, but that’s just fine with officials at the Trevose, Pa.-based company. Its strategy is not to amass brand after brand, they said, but to focus on those they have by understanding the conditions each of its brands were created under to address and learn more about their consumers.
The company’s positioning is distinctive in that many of its brands, including Lipo-Flavonoid, and Certain Dri, are healthcare-provider recommended. “Our unique brands fill a specific niche,” said Jennifer Moyer, vice president of marketing and sales. “We go deep into these brands and hold focus groups, do quantitative research and talk to sufferers to fully understand the condition, and from there we come up with ways to specifically talk to these consumers.”
Most recently, the company added Florajen, a high-potency probiotic to its lineup. It is marketed to healthcare professionals with concomitant use with antibiotics, and unlike other probiotics, Florajen is merchandised behind the pharmacy counter. In early 2018, Clarion Brands launched a women’s-specific version.
GSK Consumer Healthcare
Global healthcare company GSK operates three world-leading businesses that research, develop and manufacture innovative pharmaceutical medicines, vaccines and consumer healthcare products. Its consumer healthcare business is one of the largest producers of OTC products, including some of the world’s most trusted brands — Sensodyne, Theraflu, Excedrin, Nicorette, Flonase and Tums.
Understanding consumers’ everyday healthcare needs, views and product preferences is an integral part of GSK Consumer Healthcare’s new product development process.
The company’s Innovation Labs — a research and development lab, a consumer sensory lab and a shopper science lab — were developed to work interchangeably with a product’s life cycle in mind, spanning science and research, product development and testing, and in-store layout and e-commerce design. Each lab fosters enhanced interaction and collaboration, from scientists to the sales team, enabling faster and more efficient decision-making capabilities for all new and existing GSK Consumer Healthcare products.
Among the forthcoming products from the Warren, N.J.-based company is Sensodyne Rapid Relief, a new daily toothpaste that is designed to address sensitivity fast.
“As technology becomes increasingly central to all of our lives, we consistently look at ways of harnessing digital capability to improve consumer health,” Dennis Curran, chief customer officer, said. “GSK continues to invest in state-of-the-art digital and real-life innovation with advances like our U.S. shopper and sensory labs to better connect with the emerging consumer.”
Hisamitsu America is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical, headquartered in Tokyo and Tosu, Japan. The Florham Park, N.J.-based company is best known for its Salonpas brand of topical pain relief products, the leading brand in the world of OTC pain relief patches.
The company’s mission is at the heart of what they do every day: improve the quality of life for pain sufferers through its patch technologies, something company officials refer to as “Salonpathy.”
John Incledon, president and CEO of Hisamitsu America, noted that the company’s proudest innovation is that they hold the only topical NSAID approval from the Food and Drug Administration in the external pain category, which it said it obtained using a new drug application rather than an OTC monograph. “Our Salonpas Pain Relief Patch carries unique claims for duration of action and can be used for both mild and moderate pain,” he said.
Its strategies for success are heavily weighted to national advertising and promotion to support what the company considers best-in-class products. It also believes in the power of sampling, giving away more than half a million sales of their products each year.
“Perhaps, what makes us different is our humble beginning in Japan, the importance our company places on putting the customer first and constantly seeking ways to improve our product for consumers in the spirit of the Japanese concept of ‘Kaizen,’” Incledon said.
Hyland’s is the largest and oldest North American manufacturer of a full range of homeopathic medicines. For 115 years, the Los Angeles-based company has been making safe, effective and natural homeopathic medicines for the family. Hyland’s is best known for its pediatric products, especially its baby oral pain products and, over the course of the past decade, its children’s cough-cold medicines. Among such endurance athletes as marathoners, pickleball players and seniors, Hyland’s is known for its leg pain products.
Hyland’s excels in multichannel promotions, maximizing social media efforts and respecting their long-standing relationships with their retailer partners. Company officials said that retailers frequently rely on their expertise in homeopathy and the natural subcategories within each primary category.
“Retailers often reach out to Hyland’s for advice on planograms, merchandising options and product promotion. They trust our team to give honest feedback, and they trust our products as a safe alternative to the more conventional drug options,” Thao Le, vice president of marketing, said.
Le said Hyland’s excels at identifying and cultivating niche audiences, and addressing their problems through empathy, relevant content and products. “We always seek to be transparent and have led the way in how we approach drug facts and other product information,” he said. “In obtaining that information, we have made huge investments in quality, assay development and analytical testing. We take pride in celebrating over a century-long commitment to excellence.”
Johnson & Johnson Consumer
Johnson & Johnson Consumer is best known for meeting the health needs of families through its broad range of well-known and trusted health and OTC products. The company’s OTC portfolio includes such pain relievers as Tylenol and Motrin, allergy medicines Zyrtec and Benadryl, antidiarrheal medicines and antacids Imodium and Pepcid, and nasal decongestants that include Sudafed, as well as medicines for coughs and colds.
What sets the company apart, noted officials, is its commitment to category growth, focus on being true partners with retailers and innovation in multiple areas. “Innovation can go beyond just new product,” said Richard DiGregorio Jr., senior director of customer strategy U.S. self-care, at the Fort Washington, Pa.-based company. “It is [product] claims, novel approaches to in-store merchandising, digital solutions, packaging, educational and marketing platforms and an evolving focus on understanding the connected commerce world.”
Anticipating consumer needs and creating solutions and experiences that help them and those they care for live healthy, vibrant lives, are also a core mission at J&J. “With our portfolio of over-the-counter products, we create comprehensive, innovative and customized initiatives that place the shopper at the center,” DiGregorio said. “For our customers, we focus on building and shaping go-to-market strategies that drive category growth, not just brand growth.” An exemplary model of this approach, he noted, was the relaunch of Tylenol Rapid Release Gels in 2017.
“[The launch used] omnichannel strategy — with strong shopper, connected commerce, in-store, and professional components anchored in a speed-to-market plan — Tylenol Rapid Release Gels was a best-in-class execution that drove significant category growth,” he said.
Kamedis Dermatology develops botanical-based products that treat such skin conditions as acne, eczema, dandruff, psoriasis, itching, irritation and redness without such additives as parabens, steroids, dyes and sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, that are common in conventional OTC and prescription solutions. Rather, the company said that each product is derived from traditional Chinese medicinal botanicals known for their healing properties.
The company’s distinct extraction process and patented-botanical combinations result in products that can trigger the immune system to fight dermatologic disorders and help restore the skin’s natural balance, according to Kelli Rodriguez, U.S. director of sales and marketing at the San Francisco-based company.
Kamedis Dermatology was co-founded in 2003 by Roni Kramer, a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner who was struggling to find effective nonsteroidal products free of artificially synthesized active ingredients for her patients suffering from severe chronic skin disorders.
“Our products provide a safe and effective alternative to conventional chemical-based OTC and prescription products that either offer insufficient relief or produce side effects like drying, flaking and irritation,” Rodriguez said. “With pharmaceutical companies today making major investments in plant-derived drugs, we are at the forefront of a market that is expected to generate nearly $40 billion in global sales by 2022.”
Lifelab Health is a private company located in Coconut Creek, Fla., with more than three decades of expertise in product innovation, reliability and quality.
What sets it apart is its commitment to providing American-made consumer health products made with natural, USDA-certified organic ingredients. Its best-known offering is its NuSyllium fiber product.
Lifelab Health said NuSyllium is the only U.S. OTC fiber product that is made with 100% USDA-certified organic psyllium fiber that is clinically proven to promote digestive health, lower cholesterol and help manage weight. NuSyllium is GMO- and gluten-free, is free of artificial flavoring and food dyes, and comes in original (unflavored) and natural orange varieties.
Lifelab Health also sells in the cough-cold space with its HoneyWorks brand for children and adults, which is made with USDA-certified organic dark honey. HoneyWorks products are free of such artificial additives as dyes, preservatives, artificial flavoring and artificial coloring. They are GMO-, gluten- and dairy-free, tree nut-
and peanut-free, and have zero trans fat.
“HoneyWorks Kids Soothing Throat Spray will deliver incremental sales and is an organic alternative to the current spray products on the market,” Lou Machin, Lifelab Health managing director, said. “At a time when parents are looking for organic, safe and effective cough and cold treatments, HoneyWorks provides relief they can trust.”
For more than 20 years, Matrixx Initiatives has been helping consumers feel better. Its Zicam brand of homeopathic and allopathic OTC products utilize innovative drug delivery systems and emphasize convenience and portability.
The company most recently launched Zicam Cold Remedy Medicated Fruit Drops, a soft chew that marked the latest addition to the Zicam line since the launch of Zicam Cold Remedy Ultra Crystals, on-the-go packets that can be sprinkled directly into the mouth. The unique delivery forms are aimed at delivering convenient products to shorten colds, company officials said.
“What drives our behavior is our focus on educating as many people as we can about the availability and benefits of using a cold-shortening product,” said Ken DeBaene, senior vice president of sales at the Bridgewater, N.J.-based company. “We don’t do delivery forms for forms’ sake. We are focused on broadening the appeal of our brand with the innovation we bring to market.”
DeBaene said Matrixx will continue to focus on driving household penetration by introducing new Zicam options for consumers to both treat and shorten their cold with widely appealing delivery forms.
Moberg Pharma is a rapidly growing Swedish company with U.S. operations in Cedar Knolls, N.J. The company has grown from $1 million to more than $50 million in sales in seven years and is best known for its No. 1 fungal nail segment product Kerasal. The company also markets first aid products that include brands New Skin, Dermoplast and Domeboro.
During the past three years, Moberg has built up its portfolio through successful divestments and targeted acquisitions to focus on underserved niche segments. This strategy led to the 2016 acquisitions of New Skin and Dermoplast and enabled more investment behind core brands. Additionally, strong clinical data led to impactful new claims for Kerasal. All of this took place as the company increased its media investments. Together, Moberg officials said the company’s top-three brands saw double-digit consumption gains and share growth.
“We are driven by a straightforward principle: Get the consumer insight right and top talent on the execution, and great things will happen,” Jeff Vernimb, Moberg vice president of global consumer health, said. “We have brought discipline and innovation to our marketing, sales and R&D efforts, and it has paid off.”
Nelsons is a global family-owned business run by brothers Robert and Patrick Wilson, whose passion for providing natural healthcare choices drives the company today. Nelsons’ story began in 1860, when Nelsons Homeopathic Pharmacy opened in London, and where they still dispense homeopathic prescriptions.
The London-based company with North American offices in North Andover, Mass., has built up a portfolio that includes the world-famous Rescue range, Bach Original Flower Remedies, Spatone and Nelsons Arnicare. It distributes to more than 60 countries around the world and continues to grow through researching, developing and launching new products.
Rescue Plus is Nelsons’ latest launch. Each Rescue Plus product includes the same five flowers remedies found in the original Rescue Remedy formula. Company officials said that significant global market research drove the development of this sub-brand, which was formulated to attract new consumers through new formats, reassurance of the product’s efficacy and its premium packaging.
“At Nelsons, we take our responsibilities as a healthcare manufacturer very seriously,” John Ende, general manager, Americas, said. “We operate with a culture of compliance and continuous improvement in quality, regulations and health and safety. We follow the Good Manufacturing Practice and Good Laboratory Practices to ensure we adhere to the high standards set by those such as the Food and Drug Administration.”
PanTheryx is a Boulder, Colo.-based company that innovates with a focus on improving global health and quality of life. Best known for its DiaResQ product, the company’s focus over the past 10 years has been the development of a breakthrough product that addresses infectious diarrhea, as well as realizing the potential of nutrition-based interventions to address a wide range of serious GI microbiome-related health conditions.
Through its Equity of Access Initiative, PanTheryx’s mission is to ensure that the most at-risk populations have access to the benefits of its products. “We believe that GI health is a right of every individual on the planet, regardless of background, geographic location or socioeconomic status,” said Brian Budeselich, vice president of sales. “At PanTheryx, our team is dedicated to investing in research that will further validate our patented-technology platform and generate scientific evidence to support the potential of nutritional ingredients like colostrum.”
Budeselich said DiaResQ is different because it’s not a drug or antibiotic, but a food-based intervention that has been tested in a clinical trial and was shown to resolve most cases in one day. The product contains naturally occurring immune factors and other important nutritional components that promote intestinal health to rapidly support normal intestinal function, he said. DiaResQ, which is safe for children ages 1-year-old and older, is made from naturally derived ingredients.
Los Angeles-based PPC Group is best known for its EZC Pak, a physician-formulated immune support pack that targets antibiotic overuse by offering a combination of organic echinacea, zinc and vitamin C.
“We are trailblazing the cold and flu category with a brand identity and product line that melds the best of natural with the knowledge of modern medicine and pharmacy for the mass audience format,” said EZC Pak creator Sarath Malepati, a physician by training.
EZC Pak launched in 2016 with a focus on small medical offices and independent pharmacies to build early traction and word of mouth. The company continued to grow its distribution in these channels in 2017 with such regional wholesale partners as Rochester Drug and North Carolina Mutual Drug, as well as through national deals with Cardinal Health and McKesson. Its current focus is expansion in regional chains through distribution deals with Wakefern and SuperValu, among others.
“We have worked hard on developing the EZC Active Pak, our new consumer-facing SKU that provides evidence-based immune support for busy consumers in innovative, on-the-go packaging for the mass retail audience,” Malepati said.
Doral, Fla.-based Protexin’s mission is to manufacture innovative probiotics. Company officials said its partnerships with leading researchers have played a key role in maintaining its reputation for creating cutting-edge OTC products.
“We believe that good probiotic marketing should be based on science, clinical results and word of mouth,” said brand manager Alexa Wood, who added that its focus on science-based products — in combination with a clear brand and marketing strategy — has been a key driver of growth.
Protexin’s Bio-Kult probiotics are manufactured at its facility in Somerset, South West United Kingdom, which the company said is designed specifically for probiotic research, development and production. As part of its commitment to stay on the forefront of the latest science, Protexin also is committed to helping both retail partners and consumers through education and outreach.
“Because education is key for us, we have created a team of nutritional advisors who are available for in-store sampling days, training and educational seminars,” Wood said. “In addition, we have an in-house technical team that is always available to answer questions retailers or consumers may have regarding our different products and research.”
Rhinomed is a medical technology company focused on improving the way people breathe. It is best known for launching two patented OTC products — Turbine, a nasal dilator designed to make breathing easier during exercise, and Mute, a nasal device designed to improve sleep quality.
Rhinomed is rapidly growing its retail distribution, and Mute is now widely used by sleep specialists and sleep dentists to assist in improving nasal airflow when treating patients with sleep apnea. It also has a new low-invasive option, INPEAP, for patients with mild and moderate sleep apnea in development, officials said, adding that it also is in the process of assessing the efficacy of its technology as an intranasal delivery platform for medication.
“Rhinomed continues to invest in furthering our knowledge of the role the nose, the upper airways and the olfactory system play in maintaining health and wellness,” said Shane Duncan, vice president of global sales and marketing at the Cincinnati-based company. “We believe that by developing and delivering novel technology that solves clear unmet needs, Rhinomed can help people to live better, more active and healthy lives.”
Majestic Drug, founded in 1950, is celebrating more than 67 years of providing the best in dental and personal care products. The South Fallsburg, N.Y.-based company pioneered the temporary dental cement category and reinvented the denture repair and denture reliner segments. Today, in addition to its unique dental health products, the third-generation family business also offers products in the shaving needs and sexual-enhancement categories.
Majestic entered the niche oral care market in 1979 with the launch of Dentemp Custom, the first over-the-counter temporary dental repair product to recement loose caps and replace lost fillings. In subsequent years, Majestic expanded its product line, introducing Dentemp O.S., the No. 1-selling dental repair for both loose caps and lost fillings. The company then entered the denture repair category with Repair-It denture repair kit, Reline-It denture reliner and Clean-It denture wipes.
Majestic’s oral care portfolio has continued to grow with the addition of Recapit, Refilit, Dentool Jr., Sword Floss, Proxi-Plus and SenzAway. Majestic has repackaged all of its oral care products under the Dentist On Call banner, thereby unifying all of the products to enhance customer recognition and shelf presence, officials said.
Mandelay, the No. 1-selling climax control gel, and Femystique, an arousal gel, top the company’s products in the sexual-enhancement category. In the shaving category, Majestic offers KutKit styptic swabs.
Officials at Majestic said it has maintained its competitive advantage due in part to an extensive national advertising campaign through print media for several of its favorite products. “Our personal care products are unique and useful items that deliver the great quality and value that customers have come to expect from Majestic,” vice president of sales Nilda Oyola said. “Our commitment to providing innovative and high-quality products at reasonable prices, supported by unparalleled customer service, is the keystone on which Majestic was built over 65 years ago.”
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