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A Call to “Change the Game” at CHPA’s Annual Executive Conference

We were back at the Consumer Healthcare Products Association’s (CHPA) Annual Executive Conference this year.  I thought our opening night dinner with a Cirque de Soleil theme was appropriate.  You can safely call their performance “transformational.” And, as if on cue, the next morning Fred Hassan, founder and chairman of IM HealthScience, called for the room of consumer healthcare marketers to transform their journey. “Do it better. Do it differently. Change the Game!”

Over the next couple of days, we heard about how recent M&A activity has been changing the industry, how retail giants like Walgreens are doing things differently and how technology will put more control in the hands of healthcare consumers, making us better, more informed patients.

We also heard from David Plouffe, now at Uber, formerly Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama.  He was challenged to think differently during the 2008 elections.  When he considered which consumers could make or break the elections, Hispanics became a high priority.  But he learned he might have to take a different approach.  Instead of focusing solely on the Spanish-language debate, their Hispanic agency recommended a media campaign featuring testimonials by Latino staff members working on behalf of Obama.  “We learned Latinos want to see their daughters, granddaughters and brothers,” shared Plouffe.  “You have your strategy for the ‘general’ audience, and you have to find ways to make it relevant for Hispanics.”

Earlier in the conference, industry consultant Nicholas Hall echoed Plouffe’s sentiment:  “The #1 focus for OTC should be getting closer to the consumer.  We should speak their language, not ours.”

Of course, we agree.  Hispanics accounted for 12% of total OTC sales last year, and that number continues to grow; in fact, sales for Hispanics outpaced non-Hispanics from 2013-2014.  But, if you’re not making the effort to “get close,” then you have no opportunity to change the game.  As Plouffe said, “If you intend to be in business in 15 years, you have to build a relationship with the Latino community.  This is a demographic freight train that is coming at high velocity.”

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