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Inside Botox-Maker and Pharma Giant Allergan’s in-House Ad Agency

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  • Botox sales have been skyrocketing during the pandemic.
  • Allergan, the parent company of Botox, is trying to capitalize on the demand through its marketing.
  • It has set up an internal agency, revamped its loyalty program, and increased digital marketing.

Botox sales have never soared higher — or skewed younger


Once perceived to be the domain of fading Hollywood celebrities, the procedure is being embraced by young people in record numbers. 

A few years ago, Botox’s parent company Allergan noticed that the so-called medical aesthetics market was largely underpenetrated. Since then, Allergan has been trying to grow its business and boost brand awareness by building an internal agency, revamping its loyalty program, and prioritizing digital and social media channels.


“A historical challenge is that we don’t directly sell Botox to consumers,” said Jasson Gilmore, co-founder and SVP of global consumer and digital marketing at Allergan Data Labs. “This [strategy] helps us understand the people that are engaging with our brand and reach them directly.”

Allergan’s in-house agency made its marketing more personalized

Allergan's loyalty app Allē

Allergan’s loyalty app Allē

Allergan


Allergan built a 100-person internal marketing agency called Allergan Data Labs in 2018, whose first big project was relaunching its 9-year-old loyalty program Brilliant Distinctions. 

The program re-emerged in early 2020 as an app called Allē, which gives customers “points” for using Botox or any other aesthetic procedure from an Allē-affiliated provider or clinic — even procedures that don’t use Allergan products. Points are redeemable for rewards, certificates, and even other interests like vacations and theater tickets. 


Allē was designed to power Allergan’s personalized marketing so it could drive retention, and to keep customers coming back for more procedures, said Gilmore. Throughout 2021, Allergan Data Labs used first-party data collected through Allē to tailor its messages to people on other channels based on their interests. 


For example, when Allergan ran its 2021 TV campaign “See Yourself” that spotlighted “real” Botox users instead of celebrity spokespeople, it also targeted social media offers to Allē members who had shown interest in Botox and had claimed an offer, but not redeemed it yet. The move resulted in a 65% increase in the number of patients who got both Botox and Juvéderm in the same visit, the company said.

And social media continues to be a big business driver. Allergan Data Labs, which leads the company’s marketing, has increasingly focused on social media channels including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Search, said Gilmore. 

Allergan plans to double headcount and keep rolling out new features on its app

The initial efforts seem to be paying off. In just over two years, Allē has grown to 3.6 million active members as of January 2022, according to the company. In 2021, Botox brought in $2.2 billion in global revenue, up 51.8% year-over-year, according to its parent company’s annual report.

Not all of Allergan’s digital initiatives have succeeded. The company folded its editorial website Spotlyte and its booking site Regi into Allē both in 2020, according to trade publication Glossy.

But these hiccups aside, Allergan continues to invest in its in-house agency, planning to double its headcount and hire another 100 digital marketing experts, personalization software engineers, and product data science specialists in 2022. 

Personalization will remain a big focus, Gilmore said. Allergan recently rolled out a new feature called Flash Rewards, which alerts people to promotions when they scan a QR code at their healthcare provider’s office. 

Allergan’s investment in personalization will help position it for growth, said Jason Hornik, associate director of strategy at Mediamonks, which works with Allergan and other companies in the healthcare industry, because while personalization is mainstream across other industries, it’s still rare in the highly regulated healthcare marketing world.

“They are streamlining the customer experience, and these investments will help them accelerate content production,” he said.



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