Tied for the top slot with American Chicle's Rolaids just four years ago, Tums has rocketed ahead of that brand and every other stomach antacid remedy in the $506 million category. It is an excellent example of an old brand surging ahead on the strength of a marketing campaign that stresses a secondary ingredient.
For the year ended June 19, the SmithKline Beecham brand held a 30.3% share of category dollar sales through food, drug and mass merchandise outlets, an 8.7% increase over the previous year, according to Information Resources Inc. Through food and drugstores only, Tums holds a 21.2% share, with Pepto-Bismol from Procter & Gamble Co. the next closest competitor, with a 14.2% share. Rolaids trails both brands with a 10.7% share.
Fueling Tums' ascent are line extensions keyed to significant demographic trends and advertising that positions it not just as an antacid but a calcium supplement.
"Developing an elemental calcium-based product was an extremely smart move on SmithKline's part," notes Gabriel Lowy, senior VP-consumer products research at Oppenheimer & Co., New York. "Not only do they capture older consumers, who suffer greater amounts of stomach upset, but they also have given Tums solid secondary benefits to using the product, which is calcium supplementation."
In early 1994, SmithKline Beecham introduced Tums Ultra, a 1,000mg calcium supplement that has twice the acid neutralizing power of regular Tums, and Tums 500, which contains 500mg of calcium. The two joined regular Tums and Tums E-X, which later this year will feature new tropical flavors.
"We know that ... taking three Tums 500 is a lot easier than remembering to take eight regular Tums," says Mark Saunders, medical marketing director at SmithKline Beecham.
The company spent $27.5 million on measured media for Tums in 1993, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Jordan, McGrath, Case & Taylor, New York, handles Tums' consumer advertising, which positions the brand as effective against heartburn while providing "something your body needs anyway," calcium.
Earlier this year, the agency produced a 30-minute infomercial, hosted by former tennis star Chris Evert, which included commercials for Tums.
Separately, NCI Advertising, New York, handles advertising and promotion directed to the medical profession. Mr. Saunders attributes Tums' growth, in part, to marketing efforts directed at that group. It's a strategy that's paying off.