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Originally Published MX July/August 2003

COVER STORY

Moving Consumers from Need to Want

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Looking Ahead to Golden Years

Celebrity spokespersons have long been used to promote everything from athletic equipment and soft drinks to motor oil and lately even pharmaceuticals, but home medical equipment? C'mon.

"We know the general public's awareness level of our industry and its products is very low," says Invacare's senior vice president of sales and marketing, Lou Slangen. "When people even think of our products, they are viewed as things that are acquired only when absolutely necessary. We signed Arnold Palmer to help us begin to change that perception."

Invacare spokesman Arnold Palmer.

Invacare doesn't use DTC marketing for standard equipment like homecare beds and walkers, or for highly customized products like rehab wheelchairs, although there is a halo effect. But for certain product categories, DTC makes a lot of sense. For example, says Slangen, a number of people over age 65 have disabilities that limit their physical mobility. These individuals could really benefit from a power chair or motorized scooter, but they have a certain image of wheelchairs that keeps them from acting on that need.

A print and TV advertising campaign featuring Palmer helped produce a 20% increase in sales of Invacare consumer power products in markets where the TV spots ran. Now Invacare is about to launch a new Palmer print and TV campaign for its innovative HomeFill II home oxygen system. The HomeFill II is another natural for DTC marketing because it's a new concept in the category—users make their own oxygen at home and fill their own lightweight oxygen cylinders. This campaign is currently running in selected markets and generating a strong response, according to Slangen.

"Arnold Palmer is helping us create a sense of want for a more active lifestyle," says Slangen. "I want to go to the mall with my grandkids. I want to see them play in the park. I want that sharp-looking, candy-red Invacare power wheelchair."

Copyright 2003 MX