Since its approval 2002, Allergan has been marketing its flagship product, Botox (onabotulinutoxinA), to housewives who want to get rid of those little frown lines between their eyebrows. Last year, the Irish pharma company reported net revenues of $258.1 million from Botox Cosmetic alone, taking the lion’s share of North America’s botulinum toxin market.
But around the start of this year, the botulinum toxin industry has undergone some major shifts: welcoming a new cohort of potential customers and a new competitor into the market.
Allergan released a new direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertisement targeting millennials for Botox. While the average Botox user is a woman between the ages of 34-45, it appears that young people are becoming interested in what Botox can do for them. According to research from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Botox cosmetic treatment increased by 22 percent among people as young as college grads.
“As the category leader who created this market, it’s our job to continue to educate consumers about their aesthetic choices. Millennial consumers are curious about BOTOX® Cosmetic, and this new campaign will modernize the iconic brand to appeal to this generation and empower them to own their look with BOTOX® Cosmetic,” said Carrie Strom, Senior Vice President, U.S. Medical Aesthetics.
The ad features young men and women laughing or chatting with their friends, colleagues or significant others. The ad intends to market Botox as a very subtle treatment, quashing the image of chipmunk cheeks and frozen smiles portrayed on television. Such dramatizations of Botox might give the treatment a bad reputation.
“The ‘Own Your Look’ campaign addresses this [misconception] head-on, by showcasing real BOTOX® Cosmetic users in their 20s, 30s, and 40s and their authentic facial expressions in response to all sorts of life events,” added Strom. “Our goal is to let consumers know that BOTOX® Cosmetic delivers subtle results – so they can look like themselves, just with fewer lines.”
The launch of a new campaign at an untapped demographic comes at the perfect time. Rival company Evolus just received FDA approval for its own Botox-like product, Jeuveau.
In head-to-head tests with Botox, Jeuveau was deemed just as safe and effective at temporarily diminishing wrinkles around the eyebrows and mouth. Evolus is preparing a “high-quality specialized US sales force” to ensure the spring product launch runs smoothly.
But behind the promise of a new, wrinkle-free solution, might lie an ugly truth. According to a Bloomberg report, Allergan and its partner, Medytox, slammed Evolus and its partner, Daewoong, for using “stolen manufacturing secrets” in creating Jeuveau.
Creating the perfect batch of neurotoxin to temporarily block neurotransmission without killing the patient took years of R&D. According to the complaint made to the US International Trade Commission, Evolus could only sell their product at a lower price because they didn’t incur the same R&D expenses as Allergan.
“This complaint and the associated timing reflect the level of concern surrounding Evolus’ entry and the competitive threat it presents to the Botox franchise,” Evolus said in a statement. “This represents another legal maneuver in a long-litany of attempts by Allergan and Medytox to stifle competition and limit physician and consumer choice.”
Amid the legal battle, Allergan continues to revamp its marketing strategy for other products. Recently, the company also gave its fat removal procedure product, CoolSculpting, a new look by partnering with reality star, Sonja Morgan. Botox, CoolSculpting and other products brought in over $1 billion in new revenue last year – perhaps a strong Q4 and positive outlook for 2019 means the company might emerge from the Botox fiasco, wrinkle-free.