The Kaopectate brand had a solid family equity and an especially strong children’s franchise, but it had only been able to launch close-in line extensions in the anti-diarrheal category. The company charged us with trying to find the way to leverage this well-known brand into other related healthcare categories.
New Formula Beats Competition
Maintaining electrolyte balance during diarrhea can be a critical factor, especially among young children. Electrolyte Replacement seemed like a logical market for the brand, but Pedialyte was the #1 pediatric electrolyte replenisher in the market with a very dominant market share.
Parents had a difficult time getting children to drink Pedialyte, as it had a poor taste. Additionally, the product was only sold in 1 litre bottles which expired 48 hours after opening; thus, most parents dumped several dollars down the drain each time they bought the product. And, when they needed it the next time (for diarrhea or vomiting), it often meant a late night trip to the drug store. They were open to a more convenient, cost effective, and better tasting alternative.
We developed a convenient powdered formula that was mixed one cup at a time, thus allowing parents to always keep it on hand and only mix up what they needed for each episode. As it was a powder, we were able to use aspartame to sweeten the taste and mask the inherent saltiness of electrolytes. In blind taste tests, Kao-lectrolyte was overwhelmingly preferred 3 to 1 vs. Pedialyte.
Taste Tests Drive Adoption
Retailers had to be convinced that they needed to add a new product to the shelf, especially from a #2 to #3 market share brand. Pediatricians, the key gatekeepers, also had to be convinced to recommend a new product to parents over the entrenched #1 brand (and leading maker of baby formula).
Qualitative research showed that almost every adult who tried both Kao-lectrolyte and Pedialyte could immediately understand why the product should be carried or recommended. Additionally, most parents who had used Pedialyte were strongly aware of its limitations, but felt they had no real alternative to choose from.
Create a taste kit to allow side-by-side taste tests in pediatric offices and with retailers throughout the country. The Sales Rep would have the buyer or doctor first taste Pedialyte. Then, they would mix up the Kao-lectrolyte right in front of them to show how easy it was to use, as well as how it good it tasted. These taste kits were given to both the pharmaceutical sales and retail sales forces.