Commentary

Marketing Wearable Meds: Nufabrx Sells the Science

MediaPost: Education is a big hurdle here for such a novel product, and a category where people don't usually appreciate novelty. How do you use content and education in your marketing approach? 

Jason Andree: The biggest lift we have to do is to explain to the consumers, one, who we are, but two, what we are. And we do that really, through articulating our science.

Since we are a revolutionary new drug delivery system, we have to articulate that in a simple way and quite honestly, we'd have to do that in less than 15 seconds. We do that by bringing our science to life. When I joined, the first thing that I knew we had to do was create a really succinct, clear mode of action that demonstrated that topical pain relief can be put into a sleeve, and that is something that you can wear for all day pain, relief. 

It's really benefited us greatly because you need to walk away believing that the science is there. 

MP: I'm imagining that most are discovering you in the aisles at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and that's the first point of contact, where you have to start telling the story very quickly.

Andree: We started playing around with connected TV, and that was our broad awareness, top of the funnel mechanism for getting people to understand that we exist. Our call to action was to pick us up at your local drugstore. Because we believed that to make Nufabrx a household name, we had to start advertising at that higher funnel level. We have other conversion metrics and tactics that we used along the way. But to your point that is very important, we're rolling out our new packaging to help us stand out versus the competition. On our packaging to explain that story in an image is very difficult. We've done a really nice job of bringing our science to life on pack.

MP: On CTV you said you have to do this in 15 seconds. What did the media plan look like, targeting and the creative execution?

Andree: First we needed to show up where we knew we were located. And then we started off by testing that. When we made our TV spots, we did that with book-end intros and exits that show different consumers doing different activities that range from younger, more active lifestyles to older, more active lifestyles. Then we were able to optimize into that. We started off targeting broad with people who were interested or received or had chronic pain. And then we ended up in an area where we knew that the highest converting were people 55+. We started to target that demographic, both on TV, but also online as well. 

MP: What are the biggest course corrections that you've made so far?

Andree: When I first joined, I think the belief was that this product was for a younger demographic. To be honest when we started, that's where we were, and we’d probably ended it in a completely different demographic than that. It's also what helped us realize we needed to change our packaging. Our packaging currently and in the past features more athletic activities. It was skewing more male, and it probably was something that an older demographic might have not given a second look. They didn't see themselves lifting intense weights at the gym. 

MP: Let's flip this around and explore. How does retail presence impact your D2C? Many D2Cs get into retail and seem shocked at how impactful just being on the shelf is for their online business. 

Andree: Yes. But then I think also supporting that at-shelf presence. We try to work with the .com. So, for example, walmart.com, we make sure that we're investing there as well, so that people can pick up in store. Everyone saw that during the pandemic, but even in the post pandemic amongst this demographic we see a great uptick when we advertise on .com with pick-up in store that actually registers not on .com sales, that registers in retail. So, I guess what I would say is, yes, you're going to see upfront a great uptick just in your presence being on shelf. But don't forget to feed that, because people walking past aren't just going to pick you up. You need to really give them a reason to give you a second look specifically in a category where people have been buying it for years. 

MP: Since you mentioned the retail .com, I'm curious how much you're using the retail media networks, and what your thoughts are of that inventory versus the rest of the digital buy?

Andree: I don't think you can get away from it. So, I think anyone knows you need to allocate and spend for the different retail media companies that exist. I think you need to start small. And then I would also say that there are really great small agencies that are popping up, that we work with who are experts with those media companies. They actually perform really well for us. But again, I've had months where I've overspent, and I've had months where I underspent. And just like social, you're really able to keep a close pulse on the metrics and decide what to do next.

MP: Tell us a little bit about how you're structuring your media buying. How much of it is in-house, how much of it is outsourced?

Andree: Throughout my career I feel like I've worked in all models. Currently we outsource our media buying. We pick partners that allow us to work very closely with them, so that we're not too distant from the metrics. I meet with the media agency used for social, for example, weekly. And we really sit down. We look at the website traffic metrics, we make decisions on creative. They're able to update it in real time. And then we start to change our audiences based off of that. But I’d also like to say that it's a testing ground. When there's something new offered through Facebook or Instagram, we're able to take advantage of those and see how they work. So right now, we completely buy our media outside. But I would say it really feels like [they are] internal members of the team, in my opinion, so I’m very happy with it.

MP: A brand like this obviously has to think about growth and expansion, and where it heads next. So, what is the growth path for Nufabrx? Is it more of the same in this category? Simply more iterations of up sort of wearable, delivery systems? 

Andree: We really envision making health wear a category, and we feel like we've started doing that by launching our own OTC pain relieving compression wear. But I really feel that the magic is what is in the technology that I've mentioned, and I feel like we can do that through licensing. How do we become the Intel inside of other products? And so, what's next for us is building that out, forming great partnerships that license our technology so that we can begin to make fabrics really high performers. I think a lot of times with athletes you hear about performance wear, but it really doesn't perform for you. It might be anti-wicking, it might be cooling, etc. But we're looking at a world where people expect more from their fabrics, and we really feel like we can do that through licensing our platform and leveraging it that way.

MP: And minimizing the risk of having to become a clothing company. 

Andree: It's a very good point. We all know how expensive and difficult is to launch a brand. I feel like we've done that with the proof of concept with our compression sleeves, and we're very happy about that. And we've actually launched new SKUs and we’ll continue to do so, I think. But we want to make that a huge category. We need to move into leveraging our technology in that space.

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