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Empowering consumers to drive product development

Chemists

As a company that focuses on OTC products, we need to be aware of changes taking place in the way that consumers behave, and to focus on their health needs and demands. We at Merck's Consumer Health business believe that our customers are empowered, aware and able to communicate the best ideas to us, so not only are we listening to this feedback, we are acting on it – tailoring our offerings and responding with innovations that reflect exactly what the customer wants.

To provide some examples of this process in action, this year we enhanced our Nasivin product, which has been on the market for nearly 50 years. Why? Because our consumers of Nasivin were missing a moisturising action. Thanks to this valuable insight we added Dexpanthenol as well as some menthol, and Nasivin Mentholfresh was born. Seven Seas Perfect 7 is another great example of the way in which consumer insights are driving innovation. We picked up that consumers were looking for comprehensive, gender-specific solutions to support them as they grow older. We formulated Perfect 7, combining omega-3 with certain vitamins and minerals, specifically tailored to support the needs of both women and men. Finally, one of our newest product innovations, Apaisyl® Detect Nits, made its debut in May 2014 and has been a top-selling product in France. Our consumers communicated the need for an effective, easy to use solution to nits. Leveraging the innovative science of a revolutionary gel formulation that tracks down nits and dyes them blue, Apaisyl makes combing out lice easier than ever, and has created a fantastic buzz. This is a good example of a scientific solution to a previously unmet consumer need.

Merck Consumer Health has still much to learn from the fast moving consumer goods sector in how it converses with consumers in the digital space. As we are in the business of developing OTC products, we find ourselves in direct contact with consumers on a regular basis and we need to ensure that their feedback and their views are taken into account. To this end, we have just launched Merck Consumer Health Idea (www.merck-consumer-idea.com), a website that provides a platform for consumers to express views and opinions on existing products and to submit ideas for novel ones. We have recently received a number of compelling ideas for a new product in line with our Seven Seas brand for joint health.

This kind of interactivity looks set to become the norm for working with consumers. Empowerment is driving innovation and science in healthcare, and customers expect companies to respond quickly to change and demand. We at Merck's Consumer Health business need to continue listening closely to our customers in order to harness this valuable feedback and channel it directly into research and development.

Article by
Dr Maneesh Nerurkar

Vice President, Research and Development, Merck Consumer Health

9th June 2015

From: Sales, Healthcare

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