Excedrin Reaches Migraine Sufferers Through ICOM Co-Op

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Two coated Excedrin Migraine tablets were mailed this summer to 400,000 U.S. households with migraine or headache sufferers who use competing brands of pain medication.

The targeting and distribution for the sample mailing was handled in connection with ICOM, Toronto, which brings product samples and messages to segments of the population through large-scale surveys and a customized co-op program.

"What Excedrin wanted to do is find consumers who suffer from migraines and have frequent headaches, are category users and don't use the product," said Josh Levi, account manager at ICOM.

Questions that identified the group Bristol-Myers Squibb's Excedrin Migraine wanted to target were included on a survey sent to 25 million Americans. The survey, which is generally 70 questions long, includes questions on brands, purchasing habits and -- in the case of health-related companies -- ailments from a range of clients. The survey is mailed twice a year, in February and September. The beginning of the survey tells respondents they will receive samples and special offers from companies whose products match their needs, habits and interests. About 4.5 million people return the survey each year, resulting in a response rate in the high teens.

After data from the survey is compiled, respondents receive a co-op mailing that includes samples and coupons related to their responses. The co-op that included the Excedrin samples was distributed in three mailings in May, June and July.

"No two consumers get the same co-op. They are all different based on how they filled out the survey," Levi said. "You are bringing a high-impact offer to people who find the message relevant."

Participants in the co-op have the option of only paying for regional distribution of a product. They also get exclusivity within their category, so no other headache pain medication samples shared an envelope with Excedrin Migraine.

Results are tracked through coupon redemption, Levi said. Because of the lag time before coupons are redeemed, data isn't yet available on the results of the Excedrin program. Executives at Ryan Partnership, Westport, CT, a marketing agency also working with Excedrin Migraine, had indicated that preliminary results were strong, Levi said. Ryan Partnership wouldn't comment because of confidentiality agreements with the client.

The co-op has been particularly popular among healthcare clients because of the difficulty of getting data on ailments.

"These companies want to find competitor users and specific ailment sufferers and you have to ask questions to meet those specific needs," Levi said.

Levi said the program offers the targetability of a solo mailing and the cost of a co-op. He was unable to provide the cost, however, saying there were too many variables to offer even ballpark figures for how much a program would cost. Total project cost generally includes a fixed price for gathering data, with extra fees added for extra survey questions. In addition, distribution costs vary depending on how many samples or messages are distributed, the weight of the message and other factors.

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