A blog exploring pharmaceutical relationship marketing, emarketing and innovation with a focus on rare disorders.
The convergence of rare disease, digital communications, and pharmaceutical marketing communications

J&J Going For Niche Markets

Posted by | 1:12pm on Thursday, October 9, 2008

The SkinID push, moreover, looks to be the start of something bigger at J&J. Recent job postings for the company indicate it's preparing a host of niche brands and initiatives in the U.S. 

Washing faceIn an October 6th Advertising Age article titled “Small Brands Could Be J&J’s Next Big Thing,” the journalist reported that in the past year J&J has quietly ramped up a major assault on direct-response skin-care powerhouse Proactiv with the SkinID brand.

The SkinID push, moreover, looks to be the start of something bigger at J&J. Recent job postings for the company indicate it’s preparing a host of niche brands and initiatives in the U.S. Selling big, heavily extended brands at large retailers has been a cornerstone of success for the personal-care marketers for most of the decade. But as that business model shows signs of fraying, $61 billion J&J increasingly is trying something a lot more entrepreneurial.

It’s about the Dialogue

“We’re revolutionizing skin care through questions to our consumers,” said Cal Schmidt, VP-sales and marketing for J&J unit McNeil Nutritionals, referring to the early stages of SkinID in a talk at an Advertising Research Foundation forum in April. “We are offering our customers specific products tailored to them. …And then you have this ongoing dialogue.”

Web Site Traffic as Measurement for Campaign Effectiveness

Skin ID is only available by phone or online (as with rival Proactiv). Traffic to SkinID.com is running at about half the level of traffic to Proactiv.com after only a few months of all-out effort by J&J, according to web-data company Alexa.

The Rise of Search and Contextual Advertising

This is interesting for us as niche pharma marketers for several reasons. First, it’s not just in pharma that niche markets are being explored. (Although pharma presents its own special opportunities in this area that I will explore next week.) This is also confirmation, at least for me, that one of the major drivers for the rise of niche markets is the availability of the internet. J&J was able to launch and drive big sales against a market leader by first having a good branding platform, but then driving this platform through search and contextual advertising on the internet.

Organic Opportunity

If you excuse the midwestern metaphor, the power of search means almost endless opportunity by planting new seeds between the rows of crops where nothing grew before. Maybe the whole field grows denser and more efficient, maybe the new plants take over part of the existing field, maybe they eventually get pushed out.

Only time with tell how this plays out between SkinID and Proactiv, but I don’t think the role of the online channel is at all in doubt.

(Image courtesy of lhlobert via Flickr)

About Wendy White

Since founding Siren Interactive in 1999, Wendy has been recognized as a thought leader at the intersection of niche pharma brands, patient empowerment and online marketing. Her vision for how the internet can facilitate interactions and provide crucial information that patients, caregivers and their healthcare providers previously struggled to find has propelled Siren to the forefront of relationship marketing for rare disorder therapies.

View other posts from Wendy

Siren Interactive
  • Siren Interactive
  • Rare Disease Relationship Marketing Experts
  • 626 West Jackson Blvd, Suite 100
  • Chicago, IL 60661
  • 312.204.6700
  • 866.502.6714 (Toll Free)
  • www.sireninteractive.com