Saturday, February 23, 2008

Varilrix Vaccine : Suraksha Kawach

Brand :Varilrix Vaccine
Company : Glaxo Smithkline Beecham

Brand Analysis Count : 311

Most of you may not have heard about this brand Varilrix but may have seen the ad for this product. Varilrix is the vaccine for Chickenpox . The brand is owned by the global major GSK and is now marketed heavily in visual media as the chickenpox vaccine.
The vaccine market in India is to the tune of Rs 300 crore ( Businessline) while the website: Express Pharma puts a figure of $ 1o billion. The vaccine business for GSK accounts for around Rs 100 crore.

There is a lot of activity around vaccines for the last two years . The reason for this increased activity is propelled by the increased health consciousness together with the launch of new vaccines . The total vaccine market in India is dominated by the government sponsored/subsidized vaccines. The vaccinations are aimed at children and usually the process ends at around 5 years. Typically the parents go by the immunization chart given to them by the doctors/hospitals when the child is born.
The increased marketing activities of pharmaceutical firms at the end user level has created a new and growing market for vaccines in India. One prominent vaccine is the chickenpox vaccine.

Varilrix is the first marketed chickenpox vaccine in India. The brand is an interesting one to look at because of the nature of the disease. Chickenpox is a disease dreaded by children not because it is dangerous but because it causes havoc in a student's academic career. The typical season for this disease is February- March and this coincide with the annual examination in most academic institutions. Since this is a contagious disease, the patient is kept in isolation for over 20 days which is enough to mess his entire examinations.
According to a study conducted by GSK across schools in India, the findings showed that 59 % of students may be at risk of contracting this disease.
Varilrix is a combination vaccine which can be given to children aged above 1 year. This gives a lifelong protection against this disease. The brand is targeting the parents who have children studying in schools.
Currently the brand is running a campaign promoting this vaccine since this is the exam time. The ads are hardhitting and the storyboard goes like this :

The entire family is waiting to hear the performance of their child in the examinations. The kid tells the marks and the family members ask for the marks of the child's main competitor. For most of the exams the rival scores over the kid but when the marks of the Mathematics paper is asked , the hero says that the rival scored zero because he could not write the exam because of chickenpox. The entire family is shown to bask in the glory of their child's triumph.

Although the ad seems to be too cheeky and blunt it really puts the brand's functionality right on spot.I still remember having nightmares about this disease during exam time, when i was a kid. The reason for this high decibel promotion is that this vaccine is expensive in the range of Rs 1000-1500. Since most of the vaccines are painful, it takes lot of persuasion to sell vaccines for such diseases which are more of a nuisance than life-threatening.

Vaccines are marketed by GSK using a dual strategy: there is ethical promotion involving medical representatives visiting doctors and supplemented by DTC promotions. DTC means Direct- To -Consumer promotion. Varilrix is also cashing in on the fear factor among the TG of losing exam/career because of this disease. Varilrix is a prescription product and should be administered by a medical practitioner. According to Mr Sumer Dheri , GM of GSK, there are two things that motivate consumers for these products : Extreme Shock and Manifold benefits. Vaccines has lot of negative connotations like lack of knowledge , fear of needle etc . ( source : express pharma).The ad for Varilrix aims to propel the consumers into action by invoking the fear of losing out .