Haleon sales highlight importance of clinical trials for supplement success

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | GaleanuMihai
Getty | GaleanuMihai

Related tags Marketing Advertising clinical research Private label Data Profit Cost Investment

Newly published half-year results from consumer health giant Haleon reveal strong growth across its supplements category, which the firm says is largely thanks to investment in and communication of clinical studies.

The firm’s CEO Brian McNamara, notes that sales of its multivitamins brand 'Centrum' have rocketed thanks to a focus on scientific substantiation of end products. 

Haleon’s half-year report explains revenue has increased by 10.6% compared to the same period in the previous year, at £5,738m. 

In an online results summary video, he explains: “We are continuing to leverage our science as a powerful source of differentiation.”

Haleon has conducted studies on their Centrum Silver product targeting older consumers, demonstrating positive effects on cognitive abilities in people aged 65 and above. 

The study​ conducted in 2022, concluded that in 2262 participants, daily ‘Centrum Silver’ supplementation, relative to placebo, resulted in a statistically significant benefit on global cognition, and this effect was most pronounced in participants with a history of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, multivitamin-mineral benefits were observed for memory and executive function.

McNamara explains that these results have allowed them to enhance marketing messages.

He states: “We are now leveraging this claim and marketing Centrum silver on national TV in the US and Chinese media.

“That campaign is driving strong double-digit growth in this part of the Centrum portfolio in both countries.”

Maja Orešnik, science & research director at private-label food supplements manufacturer PharmaLinea, agrees that clinical research provides a big advantage to companies, stating: “Conducting clinical research on products signifies a brand’s heightened commitment and belief in the quality and efficacy of their product, due to the substantial costs associated with such trials.” 

“These efforts can help improve how medical professionals see brands and improve brand reputation.” 

Matevž Ambrožič, marketing & PR director PharmaLinea, adds that many of the firm's partners rely heavily on clinical substantiation in their marketing. 

“To convince healthcare professionals, clinical substantiation at the level of ingredients or finished products is of the essence - it makes or breaks a product launch. Better clinical data than competitors creates a competitive advantage, adding more or new clinical data drives campaigns that result in tangible improvements of prescriptions, sales, and market share.”

Cost and optimisation

But Orešnik notes high-standard clinical studies often entail large expenses, with her general estimation of the cost sitting at around half a million pounds.

She explains that good preparation is crucial for cost optimisation, noting: “Knowing which study parameters will influence the outcomes, knowing the pool of participants well, and including them effectively can help shorten the duration of the study, which, consequently, reduces the overall cost.”

Patient-centric trials, as highlighted by Orešnik, are becoming more prevalent in clinical research, allowing participants to take part in studies from their homes, eliminating the need for multiple centre visits. 

While this is more convenient for participants, it doesn't necessarily reduce costs, due to the requirement for advanced technologies to ensure secure data communication, the availability of medical professionals, and the complexities of sample logistics. 

She explains: “The use of advanced technology undeniably has the potential to make the conduction of clinical trials easier and less time-consuming but does not necessarily lower the cost.”

The importance of data 

The significance of clinical data in marketing is not lost on other industry players. 

Plant-based pharma solutions firm in Italy, Pharmextracta, has conducted 10 clinical studies and two meta-analyses​ directly on the efficacy of its food supplement Berberol​, and clinical trials​ on its gynecology probiotic, Crispact​. 

Matteo Speroni, international product manager at the firm, notes: “Clinical data are crucial for us in our propaganda, which is mainly focused on medical information.

“Clinical data has very important purposes, such as distinguishing a 'good' product from a 'not so good' one, and in a market very rich in competing products this turns out to be a first fundamental watershed in the doctor's choice of prescription.”

He adds: “Clinical data allows both to elevate the product concerning competitors and also to give us, the company, the knowledge of what to expect from the use of that product.” 

Speroni explains that having clinical studies to back food supplements is crucial due to the lack of such support for most products in the market. 

He states: “Over the years, we have realised that the best sellers in our portfolio are also the most clinically supported.”

Additionally, Caroline Rodriguez, head of R&D at the French personalised nutrition platform Cuure​, credits clinical substantiation​ of their product ‘Mulberry’​, a Reducose-based product, as one of the cornerstones for its long-term success. 

She notes that even though clinical data is not among the first messages in their promotion, Cuure strives to base its products on branded and clinically studied ingredients to maximise efficacy and ensure consumer satisfaction.


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