Re-generating a mature market
A SmithKline Beecham case study

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Page 3: Re-launch

Smithkline Beecham 2 Image 2After a lot of discussion it was decided to investigate a re-launch of Dr.Best. This was to prove to be a highly successful decision. The first step was to carry out and study detailed market research to learn more about consumer perceptions. At the same time, Lingner + Fischer began to work closely with a design studio to create new visual ideas.

One of the findings from the research into consumers attitudes caught the attention of the team. Consumers were keen not only on physically cleaning the teeth, but in addition they wanted to make sure that they did not hurt their gums. In other words they were looking for a toothbrush which enabled its user to operate with a degree of gentleness. It was this piece of information which was to provide the basis for the transformation of Dr.Best and which was to create a revolution in toothbrush manufacture.

By identifying a key new benefit that consumers required, SmithKline Beecham had the secret to substantially increase the value of their product. This breakthrough was to change Dr.Best from a well known but declining brand into the market leader.

The new design

The new toothbrush was revolutionary in that it was the first toothbrush to provide a new benefit that went beyond the generic requirements of a toothbrush: it was the first toothbrush that was flexible. The design studio Halm came up with a design that was distinctive, attractive and expensive-looking. The benefit of a flexible toothbrush was brilliantly visualised for the consumer.

Until this time the 2-component technology which was used in the grip had only been seen in expensive products such as electric razors. It offered better handling due to the soft rubber material of the toothbrush’s grip. By using this new technology it was possible to charge a premium price for the product, because it would be so much better than any of its rivals. In effect, if the innovation was successful it would make many existing rival products appear out of date. The new Dr.Best Flex was to create a great leap forward in people’s thinking and requirements for toothbrushes.

Getting the product made

Once there is a new design for a product, it is then necessary to make sure that the new product can be made on a large scale. In order to minimise the risk, Lingner + Fischer went to two different manufacturing companies to commence the creation of pilot moulds. The samples from these pilot moulds were then sent for three weeks of quantitative in-home consumer tests. These tests had such outstandingly good results that the company knew they had a winner. In fact the results outperformed expectations.

The company realised that they had a commercially viable product and that it was necessary to move ahead as fast as possible. Meanwhile the current Dr.Best was continuing to fall in sales and therefore action had to be taken to ensure that the new toothbrush would be on the market for the next summer season (1988). An essential ingredient in making Dr.Best Flex a success was the advertising. The advertising development started as soon as the product test results were completed and it had been decided to go ahead with the brush. The company’s advertising agency, Grey, was employed to carry out this task with a carefully prepared advertising brief. The advertising agency felt that it was important to inject a degree of personality into the brand.

SmithKline Beecham | Re-generating a mature market