Tylenol tastes grape

McNeil Consumer Products is hoping to inflict headaches on its competition with the introduction of two grape-flavored brand extensions to its pediatric Tylenol line.Last month, McNeil, which is based in Guelph, Ont., began rolling out Infants' Tylenol Suspension Drops and Children's...

McNeil Consumer Products is hoping to inflict headaches on its competition with the introduction of two grape-flavored brand extensions to its pediatric Tylenol line.

Last month, McNeil, which is based in Guelph, Ont., began rolling out Infants’ Tylenol Suspension Drops and Children’s Tylenol Suspension Liquid.

The active pain-relieving ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen, a bitter-tasting chemical children resist ingesting.

McNeil says the new Tylenol products differ from regular acetaminophen-based drops and liquid in that a ‘suspension’ delivery is used to effectively mask the unpleasant taste.

According to McNeil, the suspension delivery system enables McNeil to surround the individual acetaminophen particles with the particles of a host liquid, which in the case of the new Tylenol products is grape-flavored.

Helene Carty, McNeil’s director of communications, says the products, which were introduced simultaneously in Canada and the u.s., are designed to address the difficulty parents experience in getting their children to take acetaminophen products.

She points out studies have shown that 67% of the time children are administered acetaminophen, they take in less than the recommended dose because they spill it or spit it out afterwards.

According to Carty, McNeil has demonstrated in research that children like the taste of the new grape-flavored suspension drops and liquid.

Because they like the taste, they are more likely to swallow the full dose they are administered, she says.

Only one other company has used suspension delivery in the manufacture of children’s acetaminophen products.

In 1991, Burroughs-Wellcome of Kirkland, Que introduced a line of pediatric acetaminophen products, including infants’ suspension drops and children’s suspension liquid, under the name Actimol.

Sales did not meet expectations, however, so Burroughs pulled the line in mid-1992.

McNeil positions its existing line of pediatric Tylenol products – Children’s Chewable Tablets and Junior Strength Chewable Caplets – as ‘safe, effective medication for pain and fever.’

The new Tylenol suspension products are being positioned as ‘safe, effective and pleasant tasting.’

Carty says McNeil will introduce new advertising for its children’s Tylenol line later this year.

While she is reluctant to discuss specifics of the marketing plan, Carty says the focus with respect to Infants’ Tylenol Suspension Drops and Children’s Tylenol Suspension Liquid will be on the products’ ‘taste advantage and compliance advantage.’

McNeil’s ad agency on Tylenol is Saatchi & Saatchi of Toronto.

Canadians spend about $250 million annually on analgesics, about $45-$50 million of which are spent on children’s acetaminophen products. Tylenol is the leading brand in the children’s category with approximately 60% of the market, followed by Tempra, manufactured by Mead Johnson Canada of Ottawa, with about 30%.

Private label brands comprise something less than 10% of the market and Panadol, made by Sterling Consumer Health of Markham, Ont., has a lesser share.

Although birthrates have been rising for the past several years, a fact that would have been expected to generate growth in the category, volume sales of children’s analgesics were actually down 5-10% in 1992 versus 1991.

According to one industry observer, the decrease might be attributable, in part, to the introduction of new double-strength formulas, which cannibalized sales of regular-strength brands.

The logic is that consumers buying double-strength formulations would need to make only half the volume purchases as those buying regular-strength products.

Additionally, individual packages of the double-strength products sell for less than twice the price of two packages of the regular strength products, so dollar volumes were also affected. In launching the new suspension Tylenol, McNeil is betting it can make inroads on the drop and liquid sub-segments of the children’s market.

Tylenol’s market share leadership in the children’s analgesic category derives from its domination of the tablet and caplet segments, which together account for between 80-85% of the total children’s category.

Tempra leads in the liquid segment, while Panadol leads in drop segment. Earlier this year, Mead Johnson introduced new banana-flavored versions of its Tempra brand liquid and drop products. Tempra’s original flavor is cherry.

Neither the original version nor the new ones employ a suspension-delivery system.