Top Companies Report

26. Merck

June 28, 2012

Whitehouse Station, NJ
Sales: $583 million for foot, skin and sun care products; corporate sales: $48 billion.
Net income: $6.2 billion.

Key Personnel: Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman, president and chief executive officer; Cuong Viet Do, executive vice president and chief strategy officer; Bridgette P. Heller, executive vice president and president, Merck Consumer Care.

Major Products: Sun care—Coppertone and Bain de Soleil sun care products; Skin care—A+D Ointment; Foot care—Lotrimin, Tinactin and Dr. Scholl’s.

New Products: Coppertone Continuous Spray Sport Pro, Coppertone Sport Pro Series with DuraFlex, Coppertone Wet ‘n Clear Kids.

Comments: While corporate sales advanced 4% in 2011, consumer product sales, which includes sun care, foot care and baby care products, rose just 1% last year. Merck blamed the lackluster results, in part, to a decline in Coppertone sales.

While Coppertone’s sales may have been down, it wasn’t for lack of trying. During the year, the brand rolled out several new products that boasted new technology. For example, Coppertone Sport Pro Series now includes DuraFlex, a dual-polymer system that is said to offer more flexibility and holds sunscreen on the skin as it allows the skin to breathe, according to Coppertone researchers. New polymer technology is also driving expansion of Coppertone’s “wet skin” application products. Wet ‘n Clear Kids SPF45+ has a new polymer system that addresses certain skin issues such as feelings of dryness or tightness, according to Dr. Patricia Agin, scientific affairs leader, Coppertone Solar Research Center.

“The more convenient and more aesthetic you can make a product, the more likely consumers are to use it and to reapply it,” she said.

Agin told Happi that when formulated correctly, sunscreens can provide even more benefits to skin.

“We want to add antioxidants to replenish the skin,” she explained. “There are lots of antioxidants to choose from, but we are looking at those that are most compatible with sunscreen systems. Some antioxidants are better than others in terms of reducing free radicals in the skin.”

For the first quarter of 2012, corporate sales rose 1% to $11.7 billion. Consumer care sales were up 7% to $554 million, due to strong sales of Coppertone and Dr. Scholl’s products.


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