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March 12, 2019

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GSK Consumer Healthcare is set to accelerate its growth in China

The year 2018 has proven to be yet another fertile period for GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s leading healthcare companies. With its ambition to help people do more, feel better and live longer, GSK saw its revenue shoot to 30.8 billion pounds (US$41 billion) last year. The company also took big steps to significantly strengthen its consumer healthcare business by announcing an agreement with Pfizer Inc to combine their consumer health businesses into a new world-leading joint venture.

Filippo Lanzi, regional head of Asia Pacific, GSK Consumer Healthcare, talks about the company’s regional strategy for consumer healthcare, which has played a vital role in driving the group’s sustainable growth. And for China, Lanzi has strong confidence and defines the market as the top priority for GSK Consumer Healthcare.

Q: Can you give us an update on the business performance of GSK Consumer Healthcare globally and in the Asia Pacific region?

A: Our group made a significant improvement in the top-line operating margin, earnings per share and cash flow last year. The consumer healthcare sector made an important contribution to the overall growth.

Q: How does GSK Consumer Healthcare position China in its global business landscape?

A: China is a top priority for the entire consumer healthcare business. We have defined China as a growth engine for the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Being a growth engine means higher expectations about our performance in China. It needs the right resource allocations, investment and focus. For China, we have three priorities: portfolio leverage, commercial excellence and digital acceleration.

Q: Can you briefly describe your Chinese portfolio?

A: We have been building trusted brands for Chinese consumers in five categories and regional strengths: oral health, pain relief, respiratory care, skin health and digestive health.

Among the many brands, Sensodyne and Voltaren are of great importance. Oral health brand Sensodyne has seen double-digit sales growth globally for the last decade. In China where more than 60 percent of the population suffer from toothache because of sensitivity, only 20 percent are aware of the problem and even less actually treat it. This shows the opportunities and triggers companies like ours to offer the right solution. So we make Sensodyne a priority in China. Voltaren is in the pain relief category to help people manage pain properly.

So these iconic brands help GSK come up with the right solutions to meet consumer needs and propel our growth in the Chinese market.

Q: What strategies do you have for China?

A: When you look at China, you can find a growing middle class. They are rapidly increasingly aware of healthcare. What’s more special is their interaction with brands. They are very sophisticated in accessing information, giving feedback through digital channels and blog celebrities. So if you really want them to make the purchase, you have to offer meaningful and consistent solutions through trusted brands. This comes to how we interact with consumers in China. We have made strong plans to be relevant and active in the space of digitalization.

I believe one strength of GSK is the fact that we are a science-led company. Our brands and products are supported by science and are distinctive assets that can have a decisive impact in relieving people from the problem of diseases. Second, is our brand portfolio. We have brands that are trusted and have long-lasting presences in China, as we have been working in China for more than 30 years. And thirdly, it is about people. Our people are our priority.

Investing in the right talents, nourishing talents from within and elevating within the organization are definitely something distinctive to being successful.

Q: What’s your opinion about the government’s “Healthy China 2030” blueprint, the national strategy to improve the health of the Chinese people?

A: The blueprint is a milestone and its principle strongly aligns with what we value at GSK. The declaration makes the health of each citizen a precondition for future economic and social development. Our purpose “to help people do more, feel better, live longer” is consistent to the plan.

I really believe that there’s a big opportunity to increase the level of healthcare education of people; raising the level of awareness about what can be done to manage some diseases. I think the expertise of our company and the legacy of our trusted brands can really help people understand how to manage proactively.

It’s also about prevention. The more educated consumers are, the more they know how to take personal initiative to proactively manage their health. This is the field I believe is well-aligned with our strategy and our portfolio.

Ultimately, our goal is to always listen to our consumers’ needs and put them at the center of whatever we do. We are excited to work with the Chinese government to support its blueprint.


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