Stafford Miller, the UK owners of Sensodyne and a number of OTC and pharmaceutical brands were a small, nimble healthcare business with an entrepreneurial outlook who believed strongly in the power of brands and the importance of maintaining a consumer focus. My brief as Senior Product Manager prior to the takeover by GSK was to inject consumer thinking into their pharmaceutical and OTC brands which to date had played second fiddle to the over-whelming success of Sensodyne. Previously the business had felt constrained by the complexities of the pharmaceutical markets and had let the brands meander peacefully in the business backwater.
With retail pharmacy experience, a background in pharmacology and a foot in both the consumer and medical camps I was tasked with injecting consumer marketing energy and strategic rigour into the pharma/OTC business to provide new sources of revenue. My objectives spanned brand growth in pharmaceuticals and new product development opportunities within the OTC market.
Business growth came from two sources:
Firstly their gastroenterology product Colifoam had failed to persuasively convince medical stakeholders of its many advantages over liquid enema products. Its advantages were significant and the approach was to re-frame the patient quality of life perspective to ensure primary care physicians recognised it’s true benefits despite its slight cost disadvantage. This required moving beyond the usual technical promotional rhetoric and put the patients self-esteem, dignity and quality of life centre stage.
Secondly from the re-launch of Alphosyl shampoo. An excellent dermatological product but one positioned purely as a medical product without taking advantage of it’s dormant OTC licence. Re-launch provided a platform for the brand to gain a foothold into the chemist sector immediately enlarging both it’s distribution and awareness. Both medical prescribing and OTC pharmacist recommendation followed with the brand growing significantly after several years of zero or insignificant growth.