Manufacturers to Modify Direct Marketing to Consumers

Could consumer packaged goods companies (CPG) such as Johnson & Johnson be looking to adjust their business model?  Traditionally, manufacturers have distributed their products through wholesalers to retailers. And recently, manufacturers have begun selling to consumers through large online sites such as Alice​.com while a few smaller companies have opened e‑commerce sites and sell directly to consumers.

Now, it looks like  Johnson & Johnson is reaching out to consumers in a whole new way.  According to industry reports, the company is launching an online stress management program called Upliv.  Consumers in the primary market, women, are expected to sign up to take a stress analysis test. Based on their test results, consumers will then receive articles to read, a possible list of exercises to do or advice such as writing in an online journal.  Participants will also receive regular shipments of products like body wash, body lotion or facial wash that are designed to relieve stress through the sense of smell. In return, the participants will pay $566 annually for products and services received. Margaret Aleles, vice president for innovation growth platforms and new businesses at Johnson & Johnson says women who have already participated in the company’s internal studies reported improved “clear-​headedness” and “sleep satisfaction.”

When this service goes live later this month, consumers will not initially be able to share comments. However, that expansion is planned. In the meantime, participants can chat weekly, at designated times, with each other and Johnson & Johnson employees. The Upliv program seems like a new twist on social media. While the company is clearly attempting brand extension, it is also seeking to generate revenue directly from consumers in a social media-​like environment.

Competing marketing will no doubt be watching this program’s success carefully.

[Source: Newman, Andrew. Stress Relive Online, Aromatherapy by Mail, The New York times, 2.9.10]
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.