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Botox: Almost Trouble-Free New Faces


The Botox case illustrates the accidental success of a product developed for an entirely different purpose. Originally, Botox was used in the treatment of crossed-eyes, but ophthalmologists quickly learned that it would also erase wrinkles and frown lines around eyes. It wasn’t long before doctors across the United States were using Botox for treating wrinkles even though Allergan could not officially promote the product for this use.

The case 1) explains what the Botox product is, 2) discusses the advantages (fewer frown lines) as well as the side effects (drooping eyelids and the need to repeat treatments) associated with its use, 3) lists potential target markets, 4) details how the product is sold, i.e., at “Botox parties” and the use of Botox treatments to attract customers to resorts, and 5) describes Allergan’s marketing of Botox once it was approved for cosmetic purposes and the use of Botox to support the new strategy of Allergan to become a major player in the pharmaceuticals industry.

The case is especially useful for discussing added value and the creation of customer satisfaction. It raises questions about the difference between needs, wants, and demands; what constitutes value; is useful for illustrating the difference between a marketing oriented company (Allergan after Botox) rather than a non-marketing oriented company (Allergan before Botox); the potential benefits of marketing and raises questions about societal marketing (should Botox be promoted for cosmetic purposes? Should it be sold through parties?)

The case can also be used to illustrate relationships in the marketing paradigm—between Allergan and doctors, Allergan and final consumers and doctors, and final consumers. Allergan’s marketing efforts are two-pronged in order to successfully promote to both markets. It is important for students to realize the pivotal role of the doctor in this purchase process in which consumers do not buy the product directly.

Question 1 – What are the needs, wants, and demands of consumers for Botox products in its different treatment markets? What value does Botox deliver in each market? How does value affect the price for Botox?

The use of Botox for ocular treatment illustrates a classic need. The consumer has a defect that needs treatment. When used for crossed-eyes patients can see better, but they may also feel much better about themselves as their appearance improves. This can have a strong impact on their social needs. It will show the wants. People with crossed eyes can still read and function. The want here is not that they will expire from lack of the drug, but that they want to look better and feel better about themselves. The value of this is undeniably high. What probably constitutes the major portion of the value are the social and ego wants. One can live without it, but does one want to? Because the value is high, the price can be high. But in this market, insurance reimbursements may operate to lower the price that consumers are willing to pay. After all, they don’t have to have the product. Although there is need, want is also high.

People can all live with wrinkles, but they want to be rid of them. Indeed, the use of cosmetic surgeries for improving one’s looks is not uncommon among Asian consumers, especially among Japanese and Korean consumers. Want drives the purchase process. Given Asia’s growing obsession with appearance, the value of improving appearance would be very high. Again I think this value would primarily be social (others think I’m younger). As the case indicates the cost of Botox is quite high and unlikely to be covered by insurance companies for cosmetic purposes.

The Botox example illustrates want and need are quite different and they affect value. Unfortunately many U.S. consumers place a higher value on ego and social wants than physical needs which accounts for the success of Botox....
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