GlaxoSmithKline looks to boost healthcare sales with shopper insight facility

GlaxoSmithKline is looking to grow sales of its consumer healthcare brands such as Beechams, Sensodyne and Niquitin by opening an insights lab for retailers that it is selling as an opportunity to improve in-store marketing.

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The lab includes a touchscreen that provides 3D virtualisation of stores, real-life retail environments including a pharmacy and grocery shop and an area for focus groups. It also enables retailers to monitor customers as they move through a store, look at packaging or visit websites using eye-tracking technology and geometrics that measure factors such as heart rate.

The healthcare industry is currently worth £2.2 billion a year and growing at a rate of 4.6 per cent. That makes it hugely important to retailers, particularly as health moves up the public and government agenda.

However, GSK claims there is still low involvement in healthcare from a consumer perspective, with barriers including doubts over efficacy, a preference for natural treatments or lack of understanding of what to buy. Plus in-store navigation is a problem, with layouts needing to be simpler and packaging clearer.

The new lab is aimed at demonstrating what GSK claims is an opportunity not presently tapped by retailers to boost healthcare sales. It will do this by looking for ways to improve packaging and in-store displays, as well as making sure retailers are marketing the right products to consumers.

Speaking to Marketing Week at an event in London to open the lab, Jon Workman, VP of sales at GSK, said: “We want to work with major retailers to collaborate and research how shoppers think. This gives retailers a place to play so we can learn and grow the category,” he added.

GSK is also planning a wider marketing push in a bid to increase sales. Workman claimed healthcare now is seen as something that is only necessary when people are ill. The company is looking to change this perspective, moving towards enhancing and maintaining health with products such as Niquitin, which helps people quit smoking.

With this is mind, GSK is shortly launching a marketing campaign with the strapline “Treat yourself better”, focused on taking healthcare beyond treating illness and to enabling wellness. It will focus its marketing around value for money and not just price, emulating the strategy of other firms such as P&G.

“People are willing to pay for premium. We need to boost our brand equity and make sure that our brands differentiate themselves.”

Workman also believes it is important that GSK “remains relevant” through new products and innovation. The firm is launching a number of products over the coming year, including effervescent tablets for its Beechams brand and a new nicotine oral strip to help people stop smoking.

“We must always make sure there is a reason for the brand to be on the shelf and make sure we communicate the science behind it so consumers trade up from generic pain killers to specialised healthcare products,” said Workman.

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