Catalina Program Helps Drug Firms Target Consumers

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Catalina Marketing Corp., a provider of in-store electronic marketing programs to consumer goods companies, last week debuted a program using scanner-based technology that enables pharmaceutical companies to target consumers based on purchase history.

The program taps into Catalina's retail database, which uses store scanners to monitor the buying behavior of more than 143 million shoppers weekly in more than 11,000 stores and tracks the annual purchases of more than 25 million households.

In addition, the program allows a message to be delivered through a special printer installed at a checkout stand when a manufacturer's item is scanned. The message can include basic product information and a suggestion to call a toll-free number for further details or a rebate form from the pharmaceutical manufacturer.

"This application presents numerous possibilities for prescription drug companies to pinpoint and communicate with their key prospects," said Britt Weber, a group sales director of pharmaceutical marketing at Catalina, St. Petersburg, FL. "For example, we know that an estimated 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from allergies. This means that at any given time, only 18 percent of mass advertising in this category actually reaches its target."

Pharmaceutical companies can customize national programs at the regional or local level and change them as they progress.

Pilot tests of the program in several drug categories, including allergy, migraine, cholesterol and osteoporosis, garnered call rates as high as 5 percent compared with .01 percent and .25 percent in traditional print and television ads, according to the company.

Before the introduction of its pharmaceutical program, Catalina announced solid figures for its fiscal year ended March 31. Revenues increased 26.2 percent to $217.2 million vs. $172.1 million last year. Net income rose 21 percent to $32.9 million vs. last year's $27.2 million.

Revenue for the fiscal fourth quarter was $54.1 million, a 17.4 percent increase over $46.1 million for the same period last year. Net income for the fourth quarter increased to $8.1 million, a 50 percent increase from $5.4 million last year.

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