Championing an Unserved Market in FDM

You be the judge on this case study, because in the real world, life happens and decisions are made for reasons beyond your control.

It all began with a great product floundering in the natural channel. Leonard Smith, former CEO of Lactaid and Beano, had recently been hired by Scandinavian company BSP Pharma to be its North American CEO. Steeped in scientific rigor, BSP Pharma had developed FlexNow — a great product for joint care that was not making any headway in the natural channel. Due to FDA supplement labeling regulations, BSP’s all-natural, premium-priced joint care supplement was unable to differentiate its messaging in a price-driven category.

Leonard needed to show serious sales movement or the investors in Denmark were going to shut them down.

Looking for new channels, he went to Walgreens on a new-vendor day. The large drugstore chain was enamored of the product’s potential in terms of its efficacy and benefits but felt the branding was all wrong. So they declined, but told him to come back when he had fixed the brand strategy.

Leonard sought out Pure Branding and gave us a challenge: rebrand and get the product accepted by Walgreens.

“The first thing we did is what we always do — uncover the authenticity of the organization, dig deep into the category and identify the market opportunity,” says Yadim Medore, CEO and founder of Pure Branding. “We were engaged in Brand Opportunity, Brand Strategy and Market Research, and from the insights and our consensus-based decision making, we moved to Activation.”


The organization had Scandinavian heritage, which, in the American market, is perceived to be clean, high-quality and safe. The product and its clinical studies backed up this perception with facts.

Quantitative and qualitative research pointed to an underserved subsegment of the joint pain market that was highly receptive to integrative health practices: women between the ages of 45 and 65.

“A fresh look at BSP’s clinicals revealed a key insight that had previously gone unnoticed. Their product had the unique capacity to address the root cause of a majority of women’s joint pain — menopausal arthritis,” says Yadim. “What we saw as the big opportunity was that this product could actually grow the category rather than just take share within it.”

The solution was to create a need state that complemented glucosamine. “The proposition was that you get 30 percent of your support from glucosamine and 70 percent from our product,” says Yadim.

“We had a good product but no clear difference,” Leonard remembers. “Pure Branding identified the audience, the rationale and the relationship.”

The New Brand

A new brand, Joyn™ // Women Moving Beyond Joint Pain™, was created. It was dedicated to raising consciousness of, and addressing, women’s unique joint health needs. To support the new proposition, Pure Branding developed The 70/30 Complete Joint Health Plan — lifestyle, support and empowerment for women so they could take a stand against joint pain.

“Before this new positioning, the product’s claims were the same as ibuprofen and aspirin’s,” says Yadim. “Not only did we change the conversation at the shelf level, but we also now had a brand that would truly be of interest to Walgreens.”

Walgreens welcomed The 70/30 Plan into 5,000 of its stores. It encouraged partnership with its private-label glucosamine products and justified a high-margin price point for Joyn SheaFlex70. The new positioning also afforded Walgreens a new channel for dialogue with the highly desirable discerning female consumer, whom they were losing to CVS and Rite Aid.

“Now we had a brand, a reason for consumers to seek us out and to tell their friends and family,” says Leonard. “I wish I had met the team at Pure Branding years ago.”

“We had a good product but no clear difference. Pure Branding identified the audience, the rationale and the relationship…. Now we have a brand, a reason for consumers to seek us out and to tell friends and family. I wish I had met them years ago.”

Leonard Smith
CEO, BSP Pharma; Former CEO, Lactaid and Beano

The Launch

Pure Branding developed the “Joint Pain Loves Women” consumer advertising campaign to raise awareness that women’s joints are, in fact, different. “The slightly subversive messaging had an immediate effect in getting the conversation started,” Yadim recalls. At the AARP show, women lined up at the Joyn booth to share their stories about being dismissed by their doctors for exaggerating their discomfort.

We developed a prove-and-move campaign that launched in the Walgreens regions with the highest concentration of glucosamine, bone and joint health supplement sales. We developed relationships with influencers in each region and established a groundbreaking partnership with The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which not only would be recommending the product to their physician members but also would be fielding an at-home collagen breakdown test in partnership with Duke University so consumers could see just how effective the product was in reducing joint degradation.

The Crash

In 2008, the stock market crashed, ushering in the Great Recession. The investors behind Joyn had to make some tough decisions. All of this occurred right as Joyn was launched in Walgreens.

“It was disappointing, to say the least, when the investors stopped funding the launch,” says Yadim. “Everything was in place and the early results were very positive. But I also understood that the company had other interests that they deemed more important, and they had to make the tough call.”

The Legacy

As we wrote at the top, you be the judge on this case study. We accomplished our main goal, to get the product into Walgreens. Our rebrand of SheaFlex70 completely reinvigorated the product, creating an expansion in the joint health category by identifying an unmet market opportunity in menopausal arthritis. Joyn was honored with an American Package Design Award, and the website was honored with a Webby Award, hailed as the “Internet’s Highest Honor” by The New York Times, and both the website and consumer newspaper advertising were honored with ADDY® Awards.