Oh baby, a whole new avenue!
Within the changing world of pharmacy, consumers face an onslaught of choice and clever category management, tailored to each specific store profile, is vital in order to serve their personal care needs and truly bring brands to life at the point of sale. Here, Nicola de Beer, MD of Field Management Ireland (FMI) explains how the company recently worked with Unilever to achieve double digit growth
15 March 2017
After a short maternity break from the world of field management, Nicola de Beer, the MD of Field Management Ireland, is back to business and excited about the changes and innovations within the FMCG and retail landscape.
“The world of FMCG changes so quickly that even after a six month break from the business I have observed so many interesting developments,” says de Beer. “One of the most exciting sectors at the moment is the world of pharmacy. Our recent field activity within this area has given us great insight into the major trends and innovations happening within this sector.”
A new field approach
Indeed, the company explored pharmacy in depth with client, Unilever. “2016 was a very successful year for our team at FMI,” de Beer notes. “One of our key highlights was working with our client Unilever on introducing a new field approach into the pharmacy sector. We have really enjoyed the challenge and the journey to date and we look forward to continuing to grow this new innovative concept further into 2017.”
In early 2016, Unilever identified an opportunity within the pharmacy sector to enhance its brand presence by investing in people on the ground known as pharmacy advisors. The purpose of the campaign would be to educate and excite pharmacies about Unilever’s exciting NPD and extensive brand portfolio. In June 2016, Unilever in partnership with FMI, set on a journey to launch this exciting new field sales approach within the pharmacy sector.
Hitting the ground running
FMI set about selecting, recruiting and training two pharmacy advisors to carry out this role in the Greater Leinster area, targeting all the significant pharmacy chains within this catchment area. The intensive training programme created by FMI and Unilever involved a four week classroom and field programme that focused on the key learnings about the personal care range and the essential ingredients within these products. This ensured that the team hit the ground running and had a thorough knowledge and understanding of the broad Unilever range.
Following Unilever’s extensive research and return on investment (ROI) analysis into the pharmacy sector, key store groups and geographical areas were selected. The final call file consisted of 500 stores across 10 pharmacy groups (as well as key independent stores). FMI then assigned varying frequencies against each individual store based on its value and size as well as assigning visit days to maximise the overall ROI. This ensured that the pharmacy advisors were visiting the right stores, on the right days, with the right frequency.
Detailed category insights
The activity commenced with a detailed audit on behalf of Unilever to identify the overall availability of each SKU by brand. This enabled FMI to provide the new pharmacy advisors with detailed insight into the personal care category which allowed them to focus on quick wins and identify opportunities in each store ensuring immediate ROI for Unilever.
The key performance indicators (KPIs) of this campaign were based on three key areas 1) Staff education 2) Product training and 3) Product merchandising to ensure category compliance resulting in the maximisation and increased visibility of the Unilever brand.
Achieving double digit growth
To date, FMI has completed over 3,000 pharmacy visits over the nine month campaign. As well as delivering double digit growth within the personal care range, FMI has created strong relationships with pharmacy personnel and provided invaluable insights for Unilever which has supported their continued growth in the personal care category.
Gavin Kane, customer business manager in Unilever, explains more about how he felt there was an untapped opportunity within the category. “After a year of strong growth in the pharmacy channel in 2015, the business challenged me to again grow the sector by double digits in 2016,” Kane says. “The big gap we identified was that we had no Unilever direct representation on the ground within the sector. We felt there was a massive opportunity to engage with the key stakeholders at store level to educate the stores in relation to our brand portfolio as well as the correct range of product that should be carried tailored to each store profile.
“It was also an opportunity to advise the pharmacy sector about category management and bringing the brands to life at the point of purchase through POS solutions fit for purpose within this channel,” he adds. “We partnered with FMI and recruited two pharmacy advisors, this has been a phenomenal success and has been received really well from both head office and at store level within the channel.
“FMI provides us with detailed weekly reports where we can track key incremental on-shelf availability (OSA) of our core 100 SKUs for pharmacy. We can also see the POS that has been placed, track competitor activity and so much more. This partnership helped Unilever to achieve double digit underlying sales growth (USG%) in 2016, through collaboration and strategic partnership. At Unilever, we are looking to drive continued growth within this channel in 2017.”
New Baby range
One of the most exciting developments for Unilever in 2017 within this category, is the launch of its new Baby Dove range – a complete range of baby care products from the iconic Dove brand.
Coming from the scientific understanding that baby skin loses moisture up to five times quicker than adult skin (due to it being much thinner and more delicate), Baby Dove goes beyond mildness to replenish moisture and nutrients into baby’s skin that would otherwise be lost from the washing process. Dermatologist-tested and paediatrician-approved, Baby Dove is safe to use from birth and available in two ranges: Rich Moisture range and Sensitive Moisture (fragrance-free) range. The range includes 14 products spanning Head to Toe Wash, Shampoo, Nappy Cream, Lotion and Wipes. The cleansing products are proven to be as mild as water with added moisturising care, so parents can relax knowing they are using ultra gentle products on their baby.
Distinctive point of view
Building on Dove’s heritage in celebrating ‘real women’, Baby Dove will have a distinctive and compelling point of view on motherhood (‘there’s no such thing as perfect mums, only real ones’) and a mission to encourage new parents to ‘trust their way’ when it comes to looking after their baby. Backed by a significant marketing spend (encompassing in-store, experiential, sampling, ATL, BTL, PR and digital), this is Unilever’s biggest personal care innovation for 2017.
Peter Hatton, head of marketing, personal care, Unilever Ireland, commented: “In 2017, Dove’s 60th year, we are proud to bring the Dove difference to a whole new generation with new Baby Dove. We intend to revitalise the babycare category and bring more choice to shoppers with our uniquely caring and moisturising baby products. Every product in the range helps care for delicate baby skin by replenishing the moisture that it would otherwise loose. We are sure parents will love our new range and we look forward to working with our retail partners across Ireland to make this new brand a huge success.”
Nicola de Beer adds: “The team at FMI are hugely excited about this new Baby Dove range with initial sales orders showing significant interest and opportunity. The world of pharmacy is truly exciting and offers huge opportunity for brands willing to invest in field activity. Throughout 2016, FMI have gained extensive insights into the changing world of pharmacy and personal care within the Irish market and European markets through our membership of the EFMP (European Field Marketing Partners). We look forward to continuing to drive sales and share insights with all of our key strategic partners.”