Research carried out at the University of Exeter was responsible for shaping the successful global communication strategy of Bausch & Lomb, a world-leading supplier of eye health products.
Research led by Pete Vukusic, Professor in BioPhotonics seeks to understand the photonic properties of nanostructures in living systems, drawing on techniques from across the physical and biological sciences. The aim is to discover and characterise photonic system designs that exist in the natural world, which may inspire breakthrough technological applications.
Drawing on Professor Pete Vukusic’s research into bio-inspiration, Bausch & Lomb built its core brand messaging for a major new lens product around the ability of nature to inspire technological breakthroughs. Outreach campaigns targeting media and optometry professionals took Vukusic’s research to an international audience, raising wider public awareness of the concept of bio-inspiration. Bausch & Lomb attributed their subsequent rapid sales growth to Professor Vukusic’s work and input to the brand messaging for customers.
Global eye healthcare company Bausch & Lomb drew on the principles of bio-inspiration to develop a new contact lens solution that mimics the natural fluids of the human eye. By studying how the eye keeps itself clean, hydrated and germ-free, it brought together three bio-inspired innovations to create a unique product: Biotrue™. It uses a lubricant found naturally in the human eye, matches the pH of healthy tears and ensures beneficial tear proteins remain active.
From May 2009 to September 2011 Bausch & Lomb’s communications efforts about bio-inspiration were aimed at two key target audiences: eye care professionals (ophthalmologists, optometrists, and opticians) and consumers. Through the use and description of examples based on his research into optical bio-inspiration and photonics in nature, Bausch & Lomb were convinced of the value of using bio-inspiration as the platform on which to position the Biotrue brand. Bio-inspiration became an integral part of the company’s core messaging, in its efforts to convey how the Biotrue product is designed in a completely new and different way – i.e. ‘to work more like the eyes’.
Specifically to engage with eye care professionals, Bausch & Lomb drew on a research-based contribution from Professor Vukusic that comprised of 16 posters and 154 publications published in 17 countries. This core messaging on bio-inspiration was delivered to 40,000 eye-care professionals at symposia and seminars in 40 countries. Professor Vukusic himself gave presentations on bio-inspiration in the US, UK, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Russia, Korea, China, Japan and Brazil. He authored the introductory feature – An Introduction to Bio-inspired Design – to a 2010 issue of Contact Lens Spectrum and an additional supplement, the leading magazine for optometrists, opticians and ophthalmologists. As part of this communication, Professor Vukusic also featured in three issues of ‘Visions’ Magazine and one issue of ‘Optician’.
To reach consumers, a media campaign was instigated following a press event and was held in New York in May 2010 at which attendees were introduced to a video created by Vukusic, from which Bausch & Lomb secured 285 million web impressions for Biotrue in the national print and broadcast media. This resulted in consumer familiarity with bio-inspiration and products ‘inspired by the natural world’, rising sharply over two periods in 2010, as measured by Directions Research Inc.
Articles about bio-inspiration featuring quotes and research from Vukusic reached 313,000 readers in Brazil and Argentina. A Bausch & Lomb video The World of Bio-inspiration, based on Vukusic’s presentations, has been viewed over 29,000 times. This led to a series of industry and professional communication events resulting ‘in a unique impact that is unlike any other new product launch from Bausch & Lomb,’ according to the Director of Medical affairs Global Vision Care at Bausch & Lomb.
Summarising the contribution of Vukusic’s research to the commercial success of Biotrue, the Director of Medical Affairs said:
‘The launch of Biotrue has been unprecedented in the lens care solution category. This is largely due to the excellent consulting support and insightful guidance by Vukusic in leading us during the development of the bio-inspiration positioning and our communications plan. Having been introduced to the United States in June 2010, Biotrue had launched in 35 countries in the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions by the end of 2011. In the US, Biotrue’s market share growth after one year was five times faster than the previous best-in-class launch of a lens care solution. Unique bio-inspired positioning has contributed to highly incremental volume for Bausch & Lomb lens care products in total.’