Marketing & Branding

How Dr. Scholl’s Plans to Step Up Their Game and Get Your Attention

There are a few brands out there that instantly bring images of your grandmother; Bengay, Bayer Aspirin, and Dr. Scholl’s. The latter brings to mind a company selling wart remover, orthotics, and moleskin at your local drug store. However, the company has decided to re-invent their Dr. Scholl’s as a shoe brand (instead of focusing on all things feet) to increase their reach.

Say hello to Dr. Scholl’s Shoes and goodbye to the dated Dr. Scholl’s brand name.

How will they do it? First of all, they have started an advertising campaign to promote almost eighty new shoe designs for men and women, ranging from $50 to $90 a pair. According to Maureen McCann, the vice president of wholesale marketing at Brown Shoe (Dr. Scholl’s is licensed by the Brown Shoe Company under Merck consumer care), “what really distinguishes us is that this brand has over a 100-year heritage of making products that are good for our customers’ feet.” In order to effectively create a new marketing campaign strategy, they conducted market research and found even though people were familiar with the brand, many people weren’t aware that Dr. Scholl’s made other types of shoes. From this information, Ms. McCann knew that that Dr. Scholl’s needed to reinforce their footwear division of the brand. Now you’ll see Dr. Scholl’s Shoes as their brand name instead of just plain old Dr. Scholl’s.

According to Robert Passikoff, president of a New-York-based brand consulting firm called Brand Keys, modifying their message won’t be easy. “A good market opportunity is not necessarily a good brand opportunity,” he said in a recent interview. “[I]f you asked 100 people about Dr. Scholl’s, what they’re going to do is talk to you about foot care and orthotics, it comes back to what are people willing to believe about the brand.”

In other words, consumers will need to show signs that they are interested in seeing Dr. Scholl’s as a shoe brand instead of just a foot care brand in order for the rebranding to work.

Dr. Scholl's in Las Vegas
Coming soon: a Dr. Scholl’s store in Las Vegas.

In order to combat against this dilemma, Dr. Scholl’s is opening up retail stores in several tourist destinations like Las Vegas, San Marcos, and Tampa starting in October. “We feel like reaching consumers when they are on vacation and out shopping,” Ms. McCann said. New retail partners also include Lord & Taylor, Macys.com, Piperlime.com and Urban Outfitters. They also want to get independent shoe stores to carry Dr. Scholl’s shoes as a part of their retail strategy. The more places they’re available means the larger reach they’ll have to get their message out there.

What else is in their new strategy? A new web site where consumers can not only learn more about the products available, but also buy shoes directly and not have to go through a third-party. The designs themselves aren’t the only thing that’s improved; memory foam and gel insoles (to absorb the pressure we all put on our tootsies) have also been added. New packaging designs are also in order and feature 19 icons that will highlight each shoe’s features: waterproof, water resistant or “moisture wicking.”

With all these new strategies in place, you may be wondering about the price tag (even if you weren’t wondering, I’ll still share with you). Ms. McCall declined to give an exact dollar amount, but according to Kantar media, Dr. Scholl’s spent $278,000 on marketing efforts for products not related to foot care in 2009. The next year however, $3.3 million was spent on their marketing.

It’s still too early to determine if Dr. Scholl’s new image will help increase their customer and market reach. If they can increase though, they’ll be a contender in the shoe industry. Not only will they offer comfortable shoes that people can wear for longer than twenty minutes, but they’ll also be stylish enough they won’t want to take them off. Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks?