Paul Holmes 09 May 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
Since its launch, Rogaine For Women has had a negative perception among women. It had a masculine image and the pharmaceutical heritage of the brand represented a men’s health problem to which women could not relate. Sales were not reaching goals, even though Rogaine For Women is the only product clinically proven to prevent future loss and even regrow hair for the 30 million women with thinning hair.
Additionally, one of the main obstacles for Rogaine for Women was the fact that the market as a whole was not educated about women’s hair thinning and that the issue was considered taboo – even among the media. Research conducted by Forbes Consulting Group for Pharmacia found that there were many misconceptions about causes and treatments for hair thinning, that women with hair thinning were embarrassed to discuss the issue or seek treatment, and most women didn’t expect it could happen to them.
GCI spearheaded the rebranding process for Rogaine For Women. To overcome the brand’s negative image and battle misinformation about women’s hair thinning, team members worked closely with brand management to develop a strategy that would make hair thinning relevant to women and communicate that it is a normal part of the aging process. As the only FDA-approved clinically proven treatment for women’s hair thinning, GCI would then position Rogaine For Women as the hero. GCI and Pharmacia chose this strategy to help normalize the brand, and capitalize on women’s desire to maintain a youthful appearance.
GCI developed a platform that positioned Rogaine For Women as a beauty-focused anti-aging cosmeceutical just like retinol or alpha-hydroxy acid. Under the umbrella of this concept, outreach focused on helping women cope, treat and become educated on the issue.
Pharmacia and GCI embarked on a program to first condition the market by educating women about hair thinning, and then position Rogaine For Women as the hero through a consumer-friendly, non-branded forum. To accomplish this, GCI developed and launched the Women’s Institute for Fine and Thinning Hair in 2000, the first definitive and trusted source of expert information about women's fine, thin and thinning hair, easily accessible through an interactive Web site, toll-free number and brochure. As a third party affiliation, the Women’s Institute provided Rogaine For Women a less commercial outlet to convey key messages about the only proven treatment for women’s hair thinning, Rogaine For Women.
To increase the Women’s Institute’s appeal to women, GCI designed the Web site and brochure to provide information on hair thinning in the more cosmetically appealing context of hair styling.
To lend the Women’s Institute credibility, truth and personality, GCI researched and commissioned credible, authoritative third party experts in dermatology, hair styling and psychology to serve on the Advisory Board. Together, these experts provide content for the Web site, respond to questions and give advice. This branded, third party entity enabled Rogaine For Women to deliver its key messages about women’s hair loss without appearing overly commercial.
Long-lead Outreach/Editor Event
To introduce the Women’s Institute to the long-lead media, GCI developed an editor event that focused on the three key aspects of the Institute: dermatology to diagnose and treat, psychology to help women cope, and hair styling to teach the best techniques for styling fine and thinning hair. Women’s Institute Advisory Board members in each field led small, intimate sessions with editors over the course of the two-day event, delivering Rogaine For Women key messages within the discussion.
As an issue that was still taboo to the media, many editors initially pigeonholed women’s hair thinning as a health concern, treating it as an illness rather than a beauty issue. Overcoming this obstacle, GCI secured event attendance of key beauty editors at top women’s publications, including InStyle, Cosmopolitan, JANE, Parents, Woman’s Day, Redbook, Essence and Mirabella, among others.
GCI’s short-lead outreach on behalf of Rogaine For Women and the Women’s Institute focused on utilizing Advisory Board members to deliver key messages through broadcast interviews.
GCI implemented a satellite media tour that used Women’s Institute dermatologist Dr. Lorna Thomas to educate viewers on women’s hair thinning recommend the Women’s Institute as a valuable source of information on the issue. Interviews with Dr. Thomas ran during local morning programs across the United States.
In addition, GCI pitched interviews with Advisory Board members to top national broadcast outlets and secured segments on programs such as Later Today, Good Morning America and Pure Oxygen on the Oxygen network.
Since research showed that hairstylists are key influencers of women with hair thinning, GCI worked with Pharmacia to develop a plan to reach out to the salon community. Through Rogaine’s affiliation with Paul Mitchell, Rogaine For Women was sold in Paul Mitchell salons across the United States, but there was no consistency in signage, display or salon services.
GCI created a video targeted to salon owners that highlighted salons that had experienced success by expanding offerings in the hair loss treatment category. The purpose of the video was two-fold: to educate stylists on how to identify, treat and talk to clients about hair thinning, and to provide ideas for marketing hair loss treatment products and services for increased profitability, focusing on the Women’s Institute as a resource.
GCI’s media efforts on behalf of Rogaine For Women and the Women’s Institute for Fine & Thinning Hair resulted in over 20 beauty-focused placements in top women’s magazines, major newspapers and online outlets, as well as 25 television and radio segments. Total impressions for the public relations program were over 85 million.
The result – women became more educated on hair thinning and were motivated to take action. In the first three months of the program, the Women’s Institute Web site averaged 1,000 hits per day, call volume to the Rogaine consumer line increased by 50 percent and sales increased by 30 percent. This can be attributed only to GCI’s public relations initiatives, as the Women’s Institute program did not have an advertising component.