Thursday, August 02, 2007

Calcium Sandoz : Winners Have It In Their Bones

Brand : Calcium Sandoz
Company: Novartis
Agency : Euro RSCG

Brand Count : 258

Calcium Sandoz is a heritage brand and an offbeat brand too. The brand which is 45 years old has a rich heritage globally. It was created in 1929 and has revolutionized calcium therapy. The brand was earlier sold in the ethical route where the brand was promoted to Doctors and was sold through drug stores on prescription.

In 2000, Novartis decided to switch the brand to Over The Counter (OTC) route .At that time , the brand was worth 12 crore. OTC means that the brand is available in all shops and can be sold without prescription.

Calcium Sandoz is a calcium supplement. The product available in Tablet format has 250 mg of elemental calcium and was given to growing children. The target market for this product was kids aged 4-8.
When the product was launched as an OTC brand, the company had the freedom to market the brand through advertising and sales promotion. In the case of prescription drugs , company can advertise only in medical journals and has to depend more on its sales force to push the product.

Calcium Sandoz had a rich heritage and a strong brand equity despite the fact that it was promoted in the ethical route. I can even say that most of the urban population the SEC A B category knew of this brand or have used this brand. One of the major factor that aided this tremendous brand recall is one brand element i.e Packaging.
Calcium Sandoz is clearly identified by its unique Puppy pack which was there unchanged all through these years. That brand element has aided the company when they relaunched this brand in the OTC segment.
Calcium Sandoz is positioned as a supplement that will build healthy bones. The brand takes the tagline " Winner have it in their bones ".

As an OTC brand, Calcium Sandoz faced an issue : taste. The tablet have a chalky taste which often repelled kids from taking this product. When it was prescribed by a doctor, the brand was consumed as a medicine and hence taste didnot matter. But the moment it became OTC, these attributes like taste, softness etc become very important. Identifying this, Novartis launched a variant branded Calcium Sandoz Soft Chew which had the taste of a toffee and had the same calcium content. The company is promoting this variant heavily using visual media. Calcium Sandoz had earlier launched the tablet in orange flavor and icecream flavor. In the case of Soft Chew variant, the product form is also different.

Novartis had also extended this brand to another TG i.e Women. Actually there was a product branded Sandocal Chew which was an ethical product, Novartis decided to launch this product in the OTC as Sandoz Women.
Although Calcium Sandoz has brand recall and equity, it also faces some challenges in the market. The challenges are in the form of product usage and repurchase. The campaigns prompt the customers to buy this product but seldom this is consumed and repurchased . Infact , my wife bought Sandoz Women after seeing the advertisement but has not used it. In the case of the original Calcium Sandoz also, getting kids to eat it and asking for a daily dose is the most challenging task for Novartis.

The company expects that the new Soft Chew may prompt kids to take this brand in a different view and relieves mother of the task of getting the kids to eat it. The brand also faces the issue of " lack of proper clarity " interms of the regulations regarding OTC products. The government is yet of formulate a policy for OTC products ( drugs and supplements). The company had run into trouble when it gave free samples of Sandoz to kids in a school. Without guidelines, the brand cannot enhance its promotions for fear of getting into trouble. Although the market is having potential, this brand is really unsure whether it should go on an overdrive.


  1. Anonymous10:11 PM

    i completely agree with the view point ... consumption & repurchase are the real challenge but i guess the real culprit is the quantity contained in each package ... a better option would b to hav smaller packets which would raise the price and consumption would b ensured ...

  2. The bio-availability of calcium in supplements is less than 5%. Drinking milk is a better way for children and for young women to get the recommended daily intake of calcium. Calcium supplements should be prescribed by doctors after due consideration of the specific serum calcium levels of individual patients , and their dietary habits as well. The excretion of excess calcium from the body follows a process which does not guarantee universal safety for lay people to take calcium supplements on their own. OTC status in India means little because even prescription drugs are freely available. However, you will find that the manufacturer Novartis would not dare to adopt its present marketing practices for this brand in any country with honest and effective regulators. I declare a vested interest in this matter as a former employee of the legacy company which launched the puppy pack through the ethical route. The intention was to induce pediatric patients to follow their prescriptions, and not to bypass the medical profession.

  3. From 2009 Jan onwards the Calcium Sandoz bottle shows a note saying that the "ARTIFICIAL SWEETNER" "ASPERTIMINE" is present in the tablets.
    It does not say specifically that it is suitable for children NOR does it say that it is harmful for children.
    BUT the artificial sweetner "Aspertimine" which is present in "SUGAR FREE" "EQUAL" clearly warns that it is not to be given to children.
    Also there has been reports of people getting serious side effects like headache for "Aspertimine".
    Tel calls to the NOvartis number given on the bottle assured that the Calcium sandoz tabs are safe for children.
    Mr. Sony.

  4. Anonymous12:12 PM

    i want to know where and how can i purchase calcuim sandoz vial (novartis). im from manila philippines.

  5. actually i bought calcium sandoz....but when i take that tablets after food or what......?.......i really confused...can u help me....

  6. Anonymous9:18 PM

    why is calcium sandoz not available at chemists in mumbai


Your Views are Important. Please share your views as comments.