Targeting the Baby Boom Market

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Women First HealthCare Inc., San Diego, a direct marketer of healthcare products and educational services for women over 40, is using direct mail to promote its fledgling mail-order pharmacy service.


Using the mailing list from its catalog subsidiary, the company mailed 25,000 "new patient enrollment" forms this month to promote Women First Pharmacy Services Inc., a home-delivery pharmacy. Susan E. Dube, vice president of strategic planning and acquisitions, said "considerably more" mailings are expected to go out in the next few weeks, and there will be other promotional activities. The company also mailed to "several thousand" customers who had purchased products from Women First in the past and to its list of 700-800 doctors and clinicians who had indicated an interest in participating in the service.


"We started by using the mailing list for our catalog company, but we will probably buy some additional lists of women that we think might be good targets for us," Dube said.


The company uses a variety of direct marketing agencies, but Dube declined to reveal which agency it used to craft the current campaign. The first 25,000 pieces were mailed to past purchasers from its As We Change catalog, which markets health-related products for middle-aged women. It mails four times each year and is expected to reach between 3 million and 4 million women this year, according to Dube.


The self-mailer in the current campaign -- which bears the headline, "Finally, a women's pharmacy that delivers comprehensive and personalized care" -- includes a description of the services and requests information about the patient's health insurance and contact information for her physician. Patients are instructed to staple their prescriptions to the return-mail portions.


The promotional half of the mailer touts the accessibility of the Women First staff of pharmacists and other services, such as drug compounding for patients whose doctors prescribe nonstandard medicinal therapies. It also lists other ways to launch a prescription account through Women First, including fax and through the company's toll-free pharmacy number, 877/2Women1.


"Our market research strongly indicated that women want a personalized, confidential and convenient way to fill their prescriptions," Dube said.


In addition to offering prescription fulfillment, the company promises follow-up calls from a pharmacist within five days after the prescription is mailed and a reminder call seven days before the prescription is scheduled to be refilled.


Women First Pharmacy Services Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Women First HealthCare that was launched in January, operates from a Denver office with the assistance of Health Script, a pharmacy management company specializing in the mail-order fulfillment of medications for respiratory ailments. Women First maintains a call center in San Diego, where it accepts orders for prescriptions before transferring them to its Denver pharmacy.


Before launching the direct mail effort earlier this month, Women First was marketing its prescription service to gynecologists and obstetricians through its 55-person sales force, which also promotes the other products offered by Women First.


Women First was founded in 1996 but only began full operations last year, marketing Ortho-Est, an estrogen-replacement product used in hormone therapy for menopausal women. It also markets other products for older women, including the Integra V cosmetics line and a line of herbal and nutritional products.


The As We Change catalog, which has an Internet version at www.aswechange.com, offers a variety of health, beauty and wellness products, including nutritional supplements, exercise clothing and cosmetics.
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