Kobayashi Healthcare Europe – a subsidiary of Japan's Kobayashi Pharmaceutical – markets the popular Kool 'n' Soothe cooling sheet, Cura-Heat heat pack and Hothands hand warmer brands in the UK.
In this exclusive Q&A, marketing and regulatory manager Richard Noal describes how the company’s strategy of offering “great quality products without breaking the bank” has made Kobayashi’s products medicine cabinet staples in UK households.
Building on this success, Kobayashi is actively investing in its brands, and is looking to expand the recently UK-launched Kool ‘n’ Soothe Night Cooling Spray into other European territories, Noal reveals.
What is the history of the company?
Kobayashi Healthcare Europe is a subsidiary of Japan's Kobayashi Pharmaceutical and was established in 2001. Our first product to the market was the Kool 'n' Soothe Cooling Gel Sheet. This was a unique first-to-market product in the UK. Since then sales of Cooling Gel Sheets for fever and migraine have grown rapidly and have become a medicine cabinet staple for many UK households. In subsequent years we launched our air-activated heat pack brand Cura-Heat which provides warming relief to a variety of aches and pains. Then, we launched our Hothands daily warmers brand. This product is experiencing rapid sales growth at this time. People are surprised that two warmers that last for up to 10 hours have a recommended retail price of just £1.
What are your biggest selling UK products?
In the UK our biggest selling products are our Hothands recreational warmer brand, Cura-Heat heat patches for pain relief and our Kool 'n' Soothe cooling gel sheets for migraine/fever.
Are you engaging in or planning any future investment in these brands in the near future?
We actively market all our brands. This winter season we will be doing YouTube advertising, a blogger/sampling campaign and in-store sampling. We have experienced particular success with in-store sampling for our Hothands brand. For this brand, timing is the key so we run the in-store sampling when the temperature drops and activate the warmers so the customers can feel the heat then and there. Customers are usually surprised just how warm they are and we have seen customers pile up the product to buy once they have tried them! We also have ambitious plans for our Kool ‘n’ Soothe brand and will expand the brand line up to become a total cooling solution brand. We recently launched our Kool ‘n’ Soothe Night Cooling Spray and will be expanding the brand into other European territories.
What are the opportunities/challenges for growth in the UK consumer healthcare market today?
Given the squeeze on customers household budgets we need to be mindful of offering good value and high-quality products. Since Kobayashi manufactures its best-selling items in its own factories we can offer very competitive pricing to help the customers get great quality products without breaking the bank.