Invacare woos consumers in bid to build POC brand

‘(We) have to compete in a different way,’ says CEO Matt Monaghan
Thursday, August 9, 2018

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare’s respiratory business has been slow to grow, even with the recent release of its Platinum Mobile Oxygen Concentrator with connectivity, but the company has plans to change that.

Invacare plans to spend $2 million to $3 million in the next two quarters to raise awareness among consumers for its POC, said Matt Monaghan during a conference call on Aug. 8 to discuss the company’s financial results for the second quarter.

“It’s a channel that we’re not accustomed to being so effective in, in terms of the amount of effort that has to go into consumer awareness,” he said. “Normally we’re selling to providers and the providers have (referral sources), and that’s all that’s required to be effective. But there’s so many dollars going into media…that you have to compete in a different way. So while we have a really great product that we’re excited about, we’ve got to do more in the channel (and) that’s new for us.”

Advertising POCs directly to consumers is a strategy that has been embraced by Inogen for years.

Invacare acknowledges that $2 million to $3 million is “starting small,” but the company plans to increase that spend after determining “a good recipe,” Monaghan said.

“We’ll see what next year looks like,” he said.

Raising awareness for the Platinum means educating consumers that the Inogen One isn’t synonymous with POC.

“One of the big problems that we see in the marketplace today is consumers confuse a certain product brand name with the product category,” Monaghan said. “For us, No. 1 is making sure consumers understand that our product is out there, and we’re confident that once they realize it’s a multi-product category, we’re going to show well.”

Even as it works to grow sales for Platinum, Invacare expects continued choppiness in its respiratory business, as it steers its product mix more toward POCs and away from stationary concentrators and HomeFill systems.

“People should recognize that going from 100% of everything else to some percent of POCs will involve some cannibalization,” Monaghan said. “HomeFill has been great. It’s a favorite of providers as cost effective care. But anything with an aluminum cylinder is not fashionable.”

As it tinkers with its respiratory business, Invacare is enjoying solid growth in its mobility and seating business one year since it succeeded in lifting a consent decree with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The business posted a more than 10% increase in net sales year over year for the second quarter.

“Seating and mobility is a strong portfolio segment for us,” Monaghan said. “The products and solutions reflect a good understanding of user needs and alignment with our customers.”