Monday, September 26, 2011

Benadryl : Triple Action Formula

Brand : Benadryl
Company : Johnson & Johnson

Brand Analysis Count : # 498

Benadryl is one of the most popular cough syrup brands in India. Benadryl have a high brand recall among Indian consumers and at one point in time was the second largest selling cough syrup brand in India. The brand was originally owned by Parke Davis which later got acquired by Pfizer. Pfizer then sold this brand to Johnson & Johnson in 2008.
These ownership changes have affected the brand to a large extent. The brand virtually had no growth in the past few years. There is virtually no news or noise about this brand in the media. 

When the brand was in the fold of Parke Davis, it was a prescription product. In 1999, the brand became an Over-The- Counter (OTC) brand. Benadryl was known as an anti-allergic cough syrup. Benadryl is the brand name for the molecule Diphenhydramine. The product was created by George Rieveschl and was first prescribed in 1946. ( source

The brand had a huge equity in the Indian market. Although most of the cough syrups are prescription products, Indian consumers generally bought these brands over the counter. Most of the sales happen through word of mouth recommendations. Indian consumers have a feeling that consuming cough syrups does not result in any side-effects and hence they buy it without consulting a doctor. This practice has prompted many cough syrup brands to move into the OTC segment. Having said that the largest selling cough syrup brand is Corex which is still sold as a prescription product.

The problem started when Benadryl brand came into Pfizer's product portfolio when Parke Davis was merged with Pfizer. Pfizer owned the market leader Corex . The new owner had the dilemma of having two competing brands under the portfolio. Although technically Benadryl is an OTC and Corex is a prescription product, in effect these brands were cannibalizing each other. The confusion resulted in Pfizer selling this brand to Johnson & Johnson in 2008.
Benadryl was positioned as an anti-allergic cough syrup. The brand talked about a triple-action formula which gave relief to three issues- Cough, Cold and Sneezing. The brand launched several communication highlighting these 1-2-3 action. These campaign was based on the insight that Benadryl was narrowly positioned as a pure cough syrup while in reality cough is the end result of severe cold and sneezing. Benadryl offered relief to the other symptoms also.

Last two to three years, the brand is being virtually silent in the media. Globally Benadryl faced negative publicity for its recall of Benadryl ( for kids). This may be one of the reasons for the brand being silent in the media. The cough syrup market is heavily crowded with both prescription brands and OTC ones. There is a new wave of ayurvedic/herbal cough syrups entering this market. This long silence of Benadryl is going to hurt is position in the market very badly.