That was the spark that led Gojo to launch Purell Hand Sanitizer as a consumer product in 1996. With little experience in package-goods marketing, however, the company soon turned to an experienced marketer for help.
Sandor Katz, 42, VP-consumer group for Gojo, a veteran with such SmithKline Beecham brands as Aquafresh toothpaste and Sucrets throat lozenges. He joined Gojo in 1997 and helped commission a TV and print campaign from Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago.
He allocated more than $8 million a year to back Purell.
"It was risky for a company our size to do that," Mr. Katz says. "But we have invested, and continue to invest, pretty heavily in this market."
The result: Gojo has created what stood as a $70-million-and-growing category as of March. Despite competition from Dial, Colgate-Palmolive Co.'s Softsoap, Unilever's Suave and Reckitt & Colman's Lysol brands, Purell has remained category leader with a 32.9% share for the 12 weeks ended April 10.
Purell also is branching out with a new product, rolling into retail stores in