August 13, 2019
Joining us on the Marketing Mix Podcast is Matt Repicky, CMO at Genexa. Matt discusses building trust in the OTC medical market, the importance of educational marketing as an industry disruptor and why DTC websites are still important in the age of online marketplaces. Sharing his experience working at and with Amazon, Matt shares his top tips for advertising on one of the fastest-growing ad platforms today.
Jeff Ragovin: Tell us a little bit more about your background and your role as CMO of Genexa.
Matt Repicky: When I was working at Mattel for Barbie, one insight that we got from consumers was that they were looking for brands with a purpose. Many brands, a few years ago either did not have a social good purpose or if they did, they were not communicated well. At Barbie, we identified a purpose, which was to inspire the endless potential in girls. That really changed the perspective of consumers on the brand. When I was introduced to the founders at Genexa, one thing that really struck me was that they were two dads looking for cleaner medicine for the children. I felt that there was something meaningful in the purpose of the parent that would be beneficial to communicate to consumers.
The purpose of Genexa is to take conventional over-the-counter medicines and strip out the preservatives, fillers, binders and artificial dyes to create something that is organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, lactose-free, and oftentimes vegan. Consumers are moving towards cleaner products, starting with produce, then to cleaning products and beauty, but no one is really tackling the over-the-counter space. What Genexa offers customers is a cleaner, safer, and healthier alternative to the things they are taking today.
Jeff Ragovin: Does making over-the-counter products without all the filler make Genexa a disruptor in the space or is it something else?
Matt Repicky: Most of the time, we are the only product in the category, so I think that sets us apart right off the bat. The key point for Genexa is that we know why every single ingredient is in there, as opposed to conventional medicine that has lists of ingredients that most people don’t know what they are and why they are there. Why we are connecting with consumers is because of our transparency. There was a study done about three months ago done by researchers at MIT that showed 92% of over-the-counter medicines today have allergen. So if your taking one medicine to solve one problem, you might get another side effect, but Genexa solves for that.
Jeff Ragovin: From a marketing perspective, in an industry where trust is so important, how do you create trust with your customers?
Matt Repicky: Until I started working at Genexa, I took the same over-the-counter medicine that my mom gave me as a child, and she probably took the things that her mom gave her as a child, so there is an institutionalized thought over what is good for you and what you should be taking. With that comes a challenge of gaining a consumers trust, while letting them know what exists today and also not being threatening about it.
Education is one of the biggest things we are working on by explaining to consumers how the over-the-counter products are made, what goes into them, and how they could be affected by them, while showing that our product is a cleaner alternative and ultimately better for them. Our website is not focused as much on direct to consumer sales as it is on being an educational tool because we already have a robust brick and mortar distribution in stores and on Amazon. We also educate through social media as well to get in front of our core consumers.
Jeff Ragovin: From a retail perspective, you guys are in over 15,000 stores. You mentioned that your website is mostly used to educate, but do you see a lot of purchases coming through the website versus store?
Matt Repicky: We definitely have a great direct to consumer business. What is really great to see is with a number of our products, we have a lot of repeat purchases. Mostly due to the fact that customers are seeing good results from a cleaner version of what they might already be taking. When your only channel is direct to consumer, it causes you to position your company in a certain way. However, we have the benefit of not needing to lean on direct to consumer to drive sales.
Jeff Ragovin: Is Genexa working on paid strategy on Amazon?
Matt Repicky: Amazon is definitely a big part of our strategy. We have been using a variety of ad products to make sure we are harnessing our loyal customers who already have an affinity for what we are doing and making sure they are aware as we bring out new products. But it is similarly just as important to drive the education and awareness to let people know we exist. We have been looking at the funnel of how we navigate the customer journey. We are testing different avenues to see where we get the best response. We want to make sure we are tackling that broader audience. Amazon really offers the ability to be flexible and test things out in a way we can’t do offline. However, I am a big believer in a marketing ecosystem where offline and online are both important.
Jeff Ragovin: How are you and other brands, especially on the CPG side, navigating Amazon recommending their own products, that are similar and usually cheaper, when you are selling your own products?
Matt Repicky: This is called private label. That exists today in the offline retail environment, especially in over-the-counter meds, where you see a brand name medicine next to a off-brand, generic medicine. I think that is something generally that CPG brands have to stay ahead of and that’s where building brand equity is important. Amazon has been trying to grow their presence in the private label space, but what they are finding is that they are having more success with exclusivity on brand labels than they are on their own. I think what they might be finding is that they haven’t spent the time building up their brand equity.
Jeff Ragovin: What is your best advice for people who are trying to get into advertising on Amazon?
Matt Repicky: There is appetite to test, learn, and think differently in growing your category of your business within Amazon. It definitely takes effort to create a partnership with your Amazon account exec team and partners, but I think it’s worthwhile. On their side, they are being tested to grow and look innovative in terms of the way they are bringing new brands and products onto the site. So I would say on the brand side if you have ideas or want to try something you have not seen on Amazon before, definitely pitch it because you never know where you are going to land.
As a marketer, some of the advice I would give is around being flexible and not getting too set in your ways. Everyday there’s something new coming out and consumers are looking for something different. And also, there is just a change in marketing tactics. For so many years now we have all relied on social media for digital advertising to see click-through rates. But now consumers aren’t clicking. They are looking at your display ad much like they would look at a billboard and not engaging with it as much as they used to.
Jeff Ragovin: Where is Genexa spending the most budget in terms of advertising?
Matt Repicky: I would say digital and products is generally that channel between Amazon and off Amazon. One of the learnings I’ve had in my time on the Barbie brand was the importance of digital placements as a drumbeat and a foundation for consumer awareness. One of the things we found on Barbie was when we are running digital continually and then we run something like television or radio, it helps to amplify and provide longevity to the total buy. When we paused digital and then went into consumer insights, people forgot the work because we were not consistently in front of them. Here at Genexa, because general awareness is such an important factor for us, a strong investment into digital has to be a number one priority for us.
Jeff Ragovin: Thank you for joining the Marketing Mix Podcast.
Please note, the above has been paraphrased for editorial purposes