Where Venus Raj, Christine Jacob-Sandejas get their quality–but affordable–health productsBy Marge C. Enriquez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
In a drive to expand its market, Watsons recently launched its new campaign and brand ambassadors. And it’s working to strengthen its pharmacy section with improved service and affordable pricing, to make Watsons more than just a personal-care store.
“The message is that you have to take care of yourself to get more out of life,” said Victoria Encarnacion, Watsons marketing manager. “But looking after yourself can be expensive if you’ve got to buy the creams and the supplements. For majority of the Filipinos, there’s very little left for healthcare needs. How can they manage? They have to go where there is the best value for money… When you come to the store, don’t just buy beauty products but also health products that are affordable and of good quality, so you can enjoy life better. It’s a simple message that we say again and again.”
Watsons selected beauty queen Venus Raj, 24, as its brand ambassador because the masses can identify with her Cinderella story, said Encarnacion. Her success is a testament to the care that her mother, Ester Bayonito, has provided Venus all her life.
Venus said her 64-year-old mother prepared their food and saw them off to school. Her presence and trust in her daughter contributed a lot to Venus’ self-esteem. Now, whenever Ester visits Venus, she brings her daughter fresh vegetables and fruits which they both enjoy.
“I love malunggay—especially with grilled fish,” said the beauty queen.
Venus can also give her mother easier access to healthcare and quality medication now that she’s with Watsons.
TV host and athlete Christine Jacob-Sandejas, husband Paco and daughter Ma. Gabrielle or Gabby represent the family who is into fitness and health. Since they were both five years old, Christine and Paco had trained for swimming competitions at the Manila Polo Club, before eventually competing in international events.
“Luckily, I didn’t need to compete with her,” said Paco.
Weary of the daily grind and the pressures, Paco quit at 12 years old and went on to play soccer and tennis. Meanwhile, Christine obediently continued being a national athlete.
Marriage and motherhood made her pick up the racquet. Although their five children are now active in sports, Christine is still hoping someone would turn out to be a swimmer among them.
Gabby, 10, prefers tennis. “I think I can beat my mom because she hasn’t been playing,” she said. She attributes her active lifestyle to her parents, as well as getting used to drinking vegetable juice and taking vitamins.
Sports has kept the Sandejas close. “We play tennis together and we run together on weekends,” said Christine.
Paco just goes along with Christine’s diet program. “Instead of carbs, we consume quinoa because it has more proteins. We eat more fish and grilled items. Since my children don’t take vegetables, I make them drink vegetable juices.”
For supplements, they take Omega 3 and Ester C. “When the kids are sick, I give them lots of water. It’s the secret medicine,” she said.
Since the launch of the Watsons endorsers, sales have jumped from 11 percent to 15 percent.
“Feedback from fans is very positive. It inspires them to take care of their health and their family’s,” said Encarnacion.
Aida Lapez, Watsons merchandise trading controller, said that the store offers various health packs to suit the needs of its market. For instance, Ester would be prone to ailments associated with the elderly such as hypertension or high cholesterol. The Watsons Compliance Pack, composed of quality generic medicine for chronic and acute ailments, is packaged for a whole month so that the patient can take the medicine without fail. The price is 80-percent less than the competition.
On the other hand, Venus would need vitamins for beauty and energy such as moringa, folic acid, calcium and vitamin C.
As a young mother who looks after her family’s health, Christine would find the Watsons Health Pack, composed of vitamins and over-the-counter medications such as loratidine for allergies and paracetamol for headaches, valuable.
“Filipinos buy in tingi. We want to educate consumers to be more prepared,” said Lapez. “These come in envelopes of 10 or 20 for people on the go.”
Watsons pharmacists are not just dispatchers of medicine but also health advisers, said Lapez. Customers can get their blood pressure checked for free or ask questions about health. Customers with an SM Advantage Card can also get 30-percent discount on select supplements.
There are 251 Watsons stores nationwide, 60 of which carry America’s top supplement Now, which targets the high-end market. The most popular products are CoEnzyme Q10 and melatonin.
To reach a wider market base, there are Watsons in Savemore, SM’s community supermarkets.
“The compliance packs bring down the cost of healthcare,” said Encarnacion. “And people come to Watsons for prevention rather than cure.”
As Watsons makes medications and supplements more affordable than the competition, it could become a better alternative to your neighborhood drugstore.