Case Study: Focal Health

How Proof assisted a go-to-market strategy for a new product launch.

The Client

FocalHealth is a newly created sister company of Nephro-Tech, a Kansas City based pharmaceutical company that specializes in creating products for patients who experience kidney disease.  In 2012, Focal Health spearheaded the development of a calcium-based organic compound known as “Calcium Formate.”  Calcium Formate, christened “FormiCal” is a revolutionary advancement in how calcium is absorbed into the body.  “We knew we had a better mousetrap and we were ready to go to market but after meeting with Grant for only 30 minutes, it was abundantly clear that we did not know much about developing a brand that would resonate with our customers and a product brand position that would differentiate us from the competition,” said Bill Toepfer, of Focal Health.

The Challenges

The benefits of FormiCal are vast and nailing down exactly what is the most valuable in the minds of their target market poses a formidable challenge.  Initial studies indicated that “dissolves fast” was a concept that was resonating with consumers.  However, the secondary research revealed that “dissolves fast” was claimed by several competitors and could result in confusion, lack of product differentiation or both.  Focal Health needed to identify a concept that they could own in the consumer’s mind that reflected the competitive advantage of FormiCal.

In order to introduce FormiCal to the world and begin to drive sales, the planned go-to-market strategy was to use common social media channels used by their assumed target market.  Initial research indicated that the target market were heavy users of social media and therefore could be considered a sound tactic.  Although leadership sought to focus on dominating one medium initially, they were concerned about the risks of not diversifying their marketing and advertising efforts.  Focal Health needed to confirm that their go-to-market strategy was both sound and cost-effective.  “We realized we needed to identify our value differentiators and how to create our own unique market. We needed some help,” added Toepfer.

The Solutions

Proof tested several potential concepts to give FormiCal a singular concept in the consumer’s mind based on gaps in the market that were initially identified.  The research was able to confirm that “dissolves fast” was not only a concept that consumers didn’t find particularly important but the concept was saturated in the market making ownership in the consumer’s mind virtually impossible.  However, the concept of “dissolves completely” was both the highest testing concept and was most important to their target market.  Additionally, “dissolves completely” is not something competitors are currently claiming nor can they functionally prove making this concept a true market differentiator.  Moving forward, Focal Health can confidently talk about FormiCal containing calcium formate which “dissolves completely” and be confident that this message will resonate with their target market.

Although it was confirmed that the target market was composed of avid social media users, when it came to likelihood to purchase and preferred platform for awareness and education, social media was second to last among all tested mediums.  A surprising fact, findings from the research additionally showed that the most effective channel to purchase was through doctors, specifically general practitioners.  The go-to-market strategy and on-going marketing strategy was overhauled based on this new critical evidence to ensure that every dollar spent in promotion would be utilized to its maximum effectiveness.

Bill Toepfer

“We were able to identify our target markets, customer lifestyles and dietary preferences, buying habits and demographic profiles of our target market (gender, age, income and education level, and lifestyles). We now had a picture of who, what, when and where our customers were. And just as important, we were able to establish a marketing promotion plan that made sense.”

Bill ToepferCOO of Focal Health