Category Captain: Digestive Health: Novartis Consumer Health

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Category Captain: Digestive Health: Novartis Consumer Health


Digestive health is a $2 billion-plus category that plays in integral role in retailers’ health-and-wellness strategies. Over the past two years, Novartis Consumer Healthcare -- maker of Maalox, Benefiber and Prevacide24HR -- has invested in what may be the most comprehensive category leadership and shopper marketing plan ever devoted to the category.

The switch to Prevacid24HR in late 2009 was the beginning of a new strategy that not only leverages the power of each Novartis brand, but also creates a cohesive merchandising and communication plan aimed at simplifying the shopper experience and ultimately helping consumers find the best product to meet their needs. (Shopper research indicates that a third of shoppers leave the digestive health aisle without buying something, including people who are actively suffering from a health condition.)

The centerpiece of Novartis’ initiative was proprietary shopper insights research that not only better understood the shopper, but also the entire shopping experience. One element, led by Edgewood Consulting Group, was a retailer differentiation online study comparing thousands of digestive health shoppers to identify which key attributes were driving category and retailer loyalty on an account-specific basis. Another study and subsequent analysis identified four core shopper segments, which allowed retailers to prioritize their shoppers. Finally, new communication research identified the optimal approach to the in-store experience, including the best language to implement in helping consumers navigate the category as well as how best to educate them.

Over the past year, a number of retailers have implemented new merchandising strategies based on Novartis’ learnings. Specific changes include a new in-store location for the category, new category adjacencies and shelving layouts, streamlined assortments, and new navigational, organizational and education signage. Over the latest 52-week period in food/drug/mass merchandising, Novartis’ portfolio of brands has grown 12.6 percent, while the digestive health category was up 3.5 percent.