Bayer eyes global branding strategy

Germany-based Bayer is the latest in a steadily lengthening list of multinational marketers to announce it will pursue global marketing strategies for its consumer brands.The global strategy stems from the formation 11 months ago of a worldwide consumer care division, which...

Germany-based Bayer is the latest in a steadily lengthening list of multinational marketers to announce it will pursue global marketing strategies for its consumer brands.

The global strategy stems from the formation 11 months ago of a worldwide consumer care division, which has assumed management of all Bayer’s over-the-counter brands.

The company, which earlier this month changed its name in Canada and the u.s. to Bayer from Miles after German parent company Bayer AG regained rights to the name in North America, markets a host of high profile international products in its Canadian consumer care portfolio.

These include Alka-Seltzer, Aspirin, Midol, Myoflex, Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia and Canesten Antifungal.

Bob Steinman, vice-president and general manager of Bayer’s consumer care division in Canada, says the global marketer formed the worldwide division in a bid to streamline its operations and establish a management system that would facilitate the sharing of brand marketing ideas.

Bayer has sales and marketing operations in 54 countries and distributes products in 150 countries.

Steinman says committees have been established to oversee how the various countries manage their brands, adding the committees will investigate which products could best be marketed on a global basis.

He says Aspirin brand is likely to be the first to get a global push, probably by the end of the year. Canesten is expected to be second.

Steinman notes the mish-mash of over-the-counter drug regulations in countries around the world will make it nearly impossible for Bayer to market any of its products in a completely uniform manner, but he says there are many aspects of product positioning and communications that could be standardized.

Ken Stallman, senior vice-president, managing director client services with SMW Advertising, Bayer’s agency for consumer care products in Canada, says he was unaware Bayer has been exploring global marketing initiatives.

But Stallman says he does not believe ‘there are any risks to us since there is also a need to understand the local markets and the regulatory environments in different parts of the world.’

Bayer, which bought Sterling’s self-medication business from SmithKline Beecham last year, picking up smw in the process, has historically supported its Canadian brands with made-in-Canada strategies and creative.

‘I don’t see any reason why that would not continue,’ Stallman says.

Steinman says the exploration of global marketing is just one aspect of the worldwide committee’s mandate to improve brand management.

The company has also opened its financial coffers to increase brand advertising expenditures.

Steinman says Bayer’s Canadian advertising and promotions budget will increase by 60% in 1995 over 1994.