Haleon – Tess Player speaks about GSK’s latest demerger

Tess PlayerWe hear from Tess Player, Haleon’s global head of healthcare professional and health influencer marketing, about the demerger and the future for Haleon.

For those who don’t know, can you can you just introduce yourself and give us your background please?

My name is Tess Player. I am the global head of what we call ‘expert’. But essentially it’s healthcare professionals and health influencers here at GSK – soon to be Haleon.

I have actually been with the organisation for about 26 years across a number of different geographies and brands. But primarily I look at everyday health, consumer health, from a marketing point of view.

That’s really been a passion of mine since I was quite young. I worked as a pharmacy assistant during my university holidays. I did pharmacology as part of my degree and health in particular.

Making sure that we can provide opportunities for more people to get better access to better health has always been a passion for me.

GSK has recently announced Haleon as a new brand. Can you tell me what this new brand is, where it’s come from and what it encompasses?

We’re really excited. GSK, as many of you will know, is made up of different divisions within GSK.

There’s a pharmaceutical/vaccine division, soon to be called the new GSK, which will focus on biosciences. And the consumer healthcare division, which will soon be separated and rebranded as Haleon.

Haleon comes from the mixture of two words. So ‘hale’ as in the old English words of hale and hearty – focusing on health. And ‘leon’, which is the Greek for strength.

So health and strength, which is what we’re all about and going to be all about.

With that we have a newly-stated purpose, which is about delivering better everyday health for humanity. We have a brand that we’re in the process of creating. It’s a new corporate brand in the way it looks and feels will be hopefully very different – modern, vibrant.

But also with a sense of being really straightforward and straight talking. So that we can really mobilise every person into better everyday health.

Specifically, what does the new Haleon brand now incorporate?

The organisation will be what is currently the consumer healthcare part of GSK.

We’re in 120 plus markets around the world. Our portfolio of brands and categories fall into three primary categories. These are therapeutic oral health, which is the brands that you know – Sensodyne, Parodontax, Corsodyl and the denture care brand.

The pain relief category. So again, some you know such as Panadol, Advil and Voltaren.

And then we have our respiratory business. And then finally our wellness portfolio, which is primarily Centrum.

So that’s the portfolio. That’s the market span.

And then for us, what Haleon will all be about is delivering better everyday health with humanity. For us, the with humanity, piece is really important. It’s what differentiates us.

It’s about making everyday health more achievable, more sustainable and more inclusive.

What was it that made GSK decide to separate these brands out?

I think there’s essentially the opportunity to focus on everyday health. So being part of the pharmaceutical company brings with it great discipline around the science we create and the proof points for the products.

But, with us separating out, we get a chance to really focus just on those everyday health needs. So, prevention – stopping people from getting ill in the first place.

In the case of dentistry – making sure that people brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes. And therefore the partnership that we have between us and our consumers and how we talk to them and create those brands.

But also the partnership between us and healthcare professionals. So that we partner to help with the prevention and maintenance in the area of everyday health.

As a separate company, we’re able to have that real focus.

You mentioned you’re partnering with healthcare professionals. What impact will dental care professionals and dentists see?

The first thing we want to make sure, is that it isn’t just rhetoric.

One of the things that we want to and we’re really determined to do is make sure that we’re genuinely partnering. So that’s making sure that we listen not just to their policy level, but that we also make sure that we really listen to what’s going on on the ground.

Making sure that we listen at every level to really understand what are some of the barriers that the profession is having in helping their patients take better care of their teeth, their mouths, etc.

Around the world we see four consistent barriers.

They’re around making sure that patients understand what it takes to have better oral hygiene. Then there’s the second area around the administrative burden of being a professional.

Of course, there’s the recognition of the profession. Particularly for dentists and dental professionals around the mouth being the gateway to overall health and systemic health. And the recognition of the profession to make sure that they’re seen as an integrated part of that multidisciplinary team that keeps people well.

And finally, I would say what is our bread and butter to help and support, but that barrier around have I got what I need in terms of knowledge to stay at the forefront of my profession.

Those are the four areas where we as Haleon think that we will partner with professionals. As well as make sure that the partnership is all about listening and all about action and not rhetoric.

Where do you see the future of Haleon going over the next few years?

We talked about the delivering better everyday health with humanity. I think the areas of making everyday health more achievable, more sustainable and more inclusive give a sense of direction for the organisation.

Let me just pick on one of those in particular.

When we think about the access that people have around the world to dental professionals. Patients need to get the advice and the direction from a healthcare professional. It isn’t always there.

People don’t always have what they need to in terms of literacy or understanding about what behaviours they need to change in order to stay healthy.

And so one of the things we’re doing is partnering with The Economist to work on an index to create a health inclusivity index. It will look at what are the core determinants of health and health equality in particular. And what are some of things that are getting in the way.

That will set an overall health level.

We’re also then partnering with The Economist to do a specific deep dive around oral health in particular. That will give us the future of where the areas are that we need to focus on.

We’ve seen some of the early findings already is health literacy; people understanding what appropriate brushing technique is.

How do we get that education into schools, institutions? And use our strength as a marketing organisation to enable that better communication in order to help better health literacy. That’s just one example of where our organisation will go in the future.

Is there anything else that you wanted to just highlight?

Some of the things that will just stay the same is that Sensodyne will still be made in the same factory. Your eep that walks through the door is still the same rep. The way in which we conduct our clinical studies to prove the efficacy of our brands and the science behind them. All of those standards and quality standards will stay the same.

There is  a lot that’s changing. But there’s a lot that everybody can rest assured will continue just in the way that we have done to date.


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