Novartis Consumer Health Inc. has partnered with the Emerson Group to bolster marketing and promotional support for over a dozen of its niche over-the-counter medicine and personal care brands.


Novartis Consumer Health, Emerson Group, Roger Gravitte, marketing, alliance, sales and marketing, promotional support, Novartis Consumer Health brands, over-the-counter medicine, personal care brands, consumer advertising, Russell Redman








































































































































































































































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Novartis teams with Emerson Group for niche brand support

December 6th, 2010

PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Novartis Consumer Health Inc. has partnered with the Emerson Group to bolster marketing and promotional support for over a dozen of its niche over-the-counter medicine and personal care brands.

Under the alliance Emerson Group will provide sales and marketing services starting January 1 for the following Novartis Consumer Health brands: Keri (skin lotion), Vagistat (vaginal antifungal ointment), NoDoz (caffeine alertness aid), Comtrex (cold/cough/flu caplets), Bufferin and Ascriptin (buffered aspirin), Desenex (athlete’s foot topical antifungal), Doan’s (back pain reliever), Mineral Ice (pain relief gel), PerDiem (laxative), Myoflex (arthritis/muscle pain relief cream), Nupercainal (hemorrhoidal analgesic ointment), Cruex (jock itch antifungal spray/powder), Tavist (allergy relief tablets) and Slow-FE (iron supplement).

“It’s a marketing and sales agreement in which Emerson will take 15 brands within our portfolio and manage the overall trade planning, customer marketing and consumer promotion of these brands jointly with Novartis,” says Roger Gravitte, head of North American sales for Novartis Consumer Health.

“Emerson has a rich heritage in the industry and a tremendous skill set in dealing with niche O-T-C specialty products. We believe that together we can maximize this portfolio for our retailers,” he explains. “We have a very strong consumer base out there that’s looking for these brands.”

Given such established products, including many household names, Novartis Consumer Health set an intention to step up its commitment to those brands and determined that teaming up with Emerson Group was the way to go, considering the Wayne, Pa.-based consulting firm’s strong track record in OTC sales and marketing, according to Gravitte.

“We wanted to invest in those brands in a way that way we had not done in the past,” he comments.

What’s more, Gravitte points out, it made sense for a large company such as Novartis — with a vast array of pharmaceutical and other health care products — to partner with a specialist such as Emerson Group that could provide a sharper retail focus. Overall, Novartis Consumer Health has annual sales of about $1.1 billion, and its U.S. product portfolio includes 22 brands.

“From a Novartis perspective, we drive big brands. We’re leaders in digestive health, we’re leaders in pain, and we’re leaders in cough/cold. These niche specialty products are great assets with a strong consumer base,” Gravitte says.

“For us to invest in these brands through a partnership with Emerson, we hope to continue to drive more profitable sales growth for retailers in the segments these brands compete in.”

To that end, Emerson Group — which describes itself as a consumer products equity organization — is adept at highlighting a brand’s attributes to consumers, he notes. “The majority of the brands that Emerson will be taking responsibility for have a unique consumer proposition. And Emerson is very good at bringing that out in its marketing and selling ­efforts.”

That capability is especially critical these days, as retailers continue to rethink their assortments at the shelf level.

“There has been a lot of discussion about SKU rationalization in the industry, and what you’re seeing are some shifts back,” Gravitte says. “Many retailers have publicly come out and said they needed to revisit their decisions on aggressive SKU rationalization. So for us, the opportunity to invest in these brands — which already have strong distribution in food, drug and mass — and to expand that and support that in this environment will put us in a better position.”

Through the alliance with Emerson Group, Novartis Consumer Health plans to take advantage of retailers’ customized marketing programs as well as provide more national consumer advertising and promotions for the brands. “It will be a balanced approach,” Gravitte says.

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