How To Build A $15 Million Brand

Here’s my interview with the CEO of Cold-EEZE, Ted Karkus.

What’s the single most important secret you’ve learned taking Cold-EEZE from a $0 to $15 million per year brand?

Cold-EEZE was introduced in 1996. A Cleveland Clinic study proved that Cold-EEZE shortens the length of the common cold. The fact that it was clinically proven put Cold-EEZE on the map, creating national attention around the country and enough pent up consumer demand to motivate retailers to carry the product. However, since 2005 sales have been declining. In June 2009, I nominated a new board of directors which won control of the company and hired me to be the CEO. I immediately set out to hire a new staff and restructure the company. We believe that sales bottomed in 2010 and are looking forward to the first potential uptrend in sales in 5 years. Below are some strategies we used to increase sales.

– Conducted significant market research to create better packaging

– Researched new natural flavour technologies (that did not exist when Cold-EEZE was first introduced) and significantly improved the taste

– Completely overhauled the overall messaging and channels of advertising

How much does your product actually reduce the length/severity of a cold? Is there a cure for the common cold?

Technically, we are not allowed to say we have a cure for the common cold. Cold-EEZE has been clinically proven to reduce the severity and shorten the duration of the common cold. Results will vary with each person and with each cold. However, in several double blind placebo controlled studies, the results consistently demonstrated a significant reduction in the number of days when our proprietary formulation was tested.

Where does someone with a great product start to do what you’ve done — take an idea and eventually get it into 40,000+ retail stores?

The obvious answer is to come to a company like ProPhase Labs. People don’t realise the amount of infrastructure that is necessary to conduct business with major retailers around the country. This includes expensive software that is required to communicate with retailers, the sales reps that will regularly interface with these retailers, the complicated manufacturing and distribution issues, etc. If someone has an idea, it’s good to partner with a company that already has a solid infrastructure and distribution platform in place. It’s virtually impossible for someone to get national distribution without infrastructure in place. Furthermore, distribution in retail stores is only half the battle. There is enormous pressure on the buyers who are responsible for placing products on their retailer’s shelves. If you are fortunate enough to get your product placed on the shelf and it does not perform well in the first 6-12 months, these buyers will remove your product from the shelf very quickly.

Thanks for your time, fascinating insights, and best of luck with Cold-EEZE’s continued growth!