Innovation doesn’t always have to be grand. In fact, although Boehringer Ingelheim’s (BI) central purpose is to deliver value through innovation across the medical and consumer healthcare sectors, the solution in consumer marketing is often small steps says Martina Gripp, Head of CHC Marketing for South East Asia and Korea at Boehringer Ingelheim.

Value through innovation is perhaps easier to define for our researchers, developing new compounds and products that solve important health challenges. In consumer marketing, our effort is often focused on making ourselves faster and more efficient.

We want to innovate in everything we do. We want to do the small things better, faster. Most importantly – we want to innovate through generating improved consumer insights.

Our challenge is to find the right mix of rational and emotional benefits. The rational side will always be there in our sector, as legally we have to support every claim we make.

Some consumer healthcare products, however, can dial up the emotional side a lot more. A multivitamin product that gives you added mental energy can be more of an emotional purchase than a product that, say, relieves constipation. In the latter case the emotional insight is very important but the way you communicate it is more rational, after all, consumers don’t always want to engage too emotionally.

My biggest ambition is that we find meaningful consumer insights especially in these areas that are a bit more of a taboo. We need to find the insight that moves the consumer to make them feel okay and realise that they don’t have to suffer.

There can be ‘Dove moments’ for every brand even if it is perceived as functional and maybe taboo or unpleasant: ‘Yes I have constipation but, you know what, it’s nothing I need to be ashamed of’.

Our drive for innovation has also extended to our corporate structure. We now run South-East Asia and South Korea from our Singapore office. This allows us to bring together our expertise and financial resources. We can deploy them where they bring the biggest return, which you can’t do if you work in isolation as a small market.

We are also trying to build our purpose as well into partnerships, notably with Ashoka, the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, where we have had a global partnership under the banner of Making More Health.

Since launching Making More Health together in 2010, Boehringer Ingelheim and Ashoka have taken the program to 30 different countries across five different Ashoka programs, including Venture, Youth Venture, Changemakers, Executive in Residence, and Health For All.

The partnership has been successful because of our shared commitment to identify new and better ways of improving health across the private and social sectors, and the strong relationships we have built with Ashoka employees and Fellows.

For example, we select entrepreneurs and help them with mentors and financial support. This provides a unique opportunity for our staff as they can mentor or take time off to work in these companies. It’s a chance to get practically involved in delivering well-being around the world and can be immensely powerful and rewarding.


How can Project Reconnect help BI CHC in South East Asia?

Project Reconnect gives us the tools to help us empower our consumers to make the right choices and also feel good about them. Even in our more rational product sectors it helps us develop deep insights that are truly meaningful and powerful.


This article was originally published in Campaign Asia. You can find the article here.