When Curad took on Band-Aid

I love the story of how Curad, the smaller player in the bandage market took on Band-Aid, the market leader. The bandage maker has been smart in how it took on Band-Aid, I mean lets face it a plaster is a plaster. But when a kid has an ‘ouch’ moment sometimes getting a plaster on them can be a challenge….also you want that plaster to be the ‘make everything better’ moment.With J&J behind them you would think there would be no way that they could take them on and win. But when it came to children’s bandages, that is exactly what they did.

In 1990  Curad partnered with McDonalds, in what was a moment of marketing genius. With 85 percent of kids under the age of six visiting McDonald’s about once per week, kids were more than happy to see their favourite McCharachters on the plaster that would make them feel better. (Also a 25cent off voucher drove traffic to McD’s!)

Curad continued to cater to the ever-growing children’s market and in 1991, began to produce specially shaped bandages for fingers, elbows, knuckles, and knees.

Then they really went after Band-Aid and in conjunction with several blockbuster movies and television programs, Curad had its bandage strips printed with such characters as Casper the Ghost, Jurassic Park dinosaurs, and Cartoon Network characters.

Then in 1997 they launched a Design Your Own Bandage contest, in conjunction with Nickolodeon. The contest was so successful that it became an annual event.Not wanting to leave tweens and teens out, they launched Tattoo-U designs.

In another clever move, in 1998, Curad teamed up with the American Youth Soccer Organization and became a sponsor of the AYSO, which in turn offered Curad bandages as the official team bandage.

Of course kids dont actually buy the bandages so the marketing strategy was targeting the consumers who actually did the purchasing, married people between the ages of 35-54. Most of the mass marketing occurred where the kids usually shopped with their parents, not pharmacies, but supermarkets.

Johnson & Johnson’s Band-Aid, Curad’s major competitor, didnt sit still of course. They fought back trying to go one better than Curad launching a range of plasters with Disney characters, endangered species (which was a tie-in with the World Wildlife Fund), and NASCAR racing designs.

The Results

  • By the late 1980s, Curad had approximately 25 to 30 percent of the total market, while Johnson & Johnson had about 60 to 65 percent.
  • In 1990, Curad’s sales increased about 20 percent, and Band-Aid’s sales dropped about 10 percent.
  • By 1993, Curad held 36.1 percent of the entire children’s bandage market, while Johnson & Johnson held 26.6 percent of the children’s bandage market.
  • By the end of the 1990s, though Johnson & Johnson still had greater overall bandage sales, Curad continued to lead the children’s bandage market.
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