J&J's Zyrtec: A Marketing 50 Case Study

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Photo: Tony Pettinato
When Johnson & Johnson acquired Pfizer's consumer-health-care business, the buried treasure was allergy drug Zyrtec. At the time, in 2006, it was a top-selling prescription drug in the U.S.

Showcasing that treasure has been Rohinish Hooda, VP-marketing for J&J's over-the-counter upper-respiratory business. Zyrtec is on track to hit $300 million in its first year of OTC sales despite going head-to-head with private-label.

"It's been a phenomenal year," Mr. Hooda says. By the second quarter, Zyrtec had a 27.5% share of the U.S. OTC allergy business. The sales are great, he says, but "the market response from consumers, customers and competitors is even more satisfying."

J&J arranged for 40 of the Fortune 500 employers to send direct-mail ads to Zyrtec prescription users. But the key move may have been mining clinical data to come up with a powerful new claim in TV and print ads from JWT, New York -- that Zyrtec starts working in only an hour, compared with three for Claritin.
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