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Two years ago, Dr. Scholl's held the dominant market share in the footcare category, was available in most food, drug and mass stores and had strong name recognition. But Schering-Plough Corp. wasn't satisfied. Sales were basically flat.

"We were not innovative, and there were tremendous opportunities to grow the category," says Steve LaMonte, VP-footcare marketing.

The 90-year-old Dr. Scholl's was like many venerable but vulnerable brands. "You need to go forward and invest in your brand. You have to give trademarks with equity an opportunity to grow," he says.

Schering-Plough saw potential in the aging of the U.S. population. Add to that an increased consumer willingness to self-treat minor medical problems, and the large number of consumers who were unaware there were over-the-counter footcare remedies.

Schering-Plough research showed only 40% of the population was using OTC footcare products, although 75% of adults suffer minor footcare problems. So the company initiated an aggressive program to wake up the category.

Last year, it introduced a restaged product line focused on high-tech insoles/inserts, bunion guards and superabsorbent foot powder. This spring, it launched 22 new products.

The new products are supported by major increases in marketing spending (a 25% rise to $35 million in 1994), including new advertising from Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, and new packaging.

Results are promising. Total footcare sales are up 8% to $317.4 million for the year-to-date as of Aug. 6, according to Nielsen North America. Schering-Plough's sales are also up 8%, to $205.8 million, giving the company a 65% share.

"We're making the brand contemporary and relevant to today's consumers," says Mr. LaMonte. "That's crucial to growing any brand, no matter what its age."

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