An Exclusive Session with Mr Sohail Matin

Dr.MatinMr. Matin is a graduate of the Okalhoma State University, US; and has been associated with GSK since the year 1986. During his tenure at GSK, Mr Matin has served at positions of increasing responsibility. He was the Director Business Development and Regulatory Affairs MEA, and he is currently the Country General Manager for Consumer Healthcare at GSK Pakistan.

Q. Can you please tell me about your initial education and the road that led to GSK?

A. Well, for that we will have to go far down the memory lane.  After doing my Engineering, I went on to do my Masters’ in Business Administration from the US. I had always wanted to come back to Pakistan, so I started looking for possible placement in the MNC sector.

GSK was one of the companies that I had applied to; obviously it was not GSK then – it was Glaxo.  I was asked to appear for an interview, and things then started falling in place.

On my arrival I was offered various avenues like marketing, sales, planning and more but I chose Supply Chain, which then was known as material management. I had studied Operations Management, and that really helped me take practical command of the job subject.

It has been a roller coaster since then.

Q. What do you think was your one trait that helped you succeed in your professional career?

A. I truly believe that success depends on hard work and persistence. If you have a dream, you must make sure that you give your best to work towards the fulfillment of that dream.

Q. Can you please comment on the evolution of the Dental Market?

A. The pharmaceutical industry has a come a long way since I joined Glaxo back in 1986. Initially the industry was MNC dominated, but today we see a lot of good local companies coming up. As for the oral care market, the first market leader was Beecham. Colgate, obviously, wasn’t a player then. The market was very fragmented.

The oral care market initially was very miswak driven. You can easily refer to the times as the era of Miswak and Dentonic Powder. Here I must say that Dentonic played a huge role in advocating brushing twice a day. Several of their marketing campaigns were immensely popular, and it helped increase oral hygiene awareness among the masses.

Colgate was the game changer. It was the first true toothpaste company to enter the market; and it never looked back. Colgate was a revolutionary player as far as the oral care industry is concerned; it not only started a new era in the oral care industry, but also drove awareness and hygiene. Colgate was the first company to market itself as the solution provider of the oral care industry.

GSK has been a pharmaceutical giant, and it was not until 2007 that our consumer healthcare division was found. Maclean’s was premium niche toothpaste, but the brand was over shadowed by the dominance of Colgate. The toothpowder market was marginalized with time, and tooth paste market took the lead. Today toothpaste makes up 95% of the oral care market.

If we look at the dynamics today, the market has come a long way towards innovation and maturity.

Q. What is the size of the Oral Care Market?

A. The current size of the Oral Care market is approximately Rs. 5-7 Billion, which would be around Rs. 10 Billion in retail sales. The market is predominantly toothpaste and toothbrushes. Only a small fragment, around 2-5%, comprises of mouthwashes and others.

Colgate commands 40% share of the toothpaste market, and Sensodyne commands around 7%. The medicated segmented, predominantly Medicam, makes up around 25% of the market. The rest is made up by Miswak, local solutions and more.

The sensitivity market is an underdeveloped market, but it is rapidly growing as people are becoming more aware. Sensodyne commands 60-70% share of the sensitivity market. The market has a lot of potential. There are estimates that say that a third of Pakistan’s population suffers from Sensitivity. Now if you start translating that in numbers, considering that Pakistan has a population of 200 Million, you can imagine the future scope of the market.

Q. Has the GSK brand helped Sensodyne?

A. Certainly Yes. GSK has been a pharmaceutical giant, and we have taken that brand leverage for Sensodyne. People look at us as a quality treatment provider; and this image has helped the sale of Sensodyne.  We are known to the world as a credible organization, with the ability to reach the masses. We have a very strong network of KOLs present nationwide, and this has helped promote awareness and solutions.

Also, the respected reputation of GSK for quality, innovation and services has helped us carry the Sensodyne brand with ease into the market. The consumers know that anything coming from GSK can be trusted.

Q. What is the singular factor that can help develop the sensitivity market in Pakistan?

A. Not just Pakistan, but globally, the factor most influential in the development of the Sensitivity market is awareness. I believe that we have to be more aggressive in our awareness campaigns.

Colgate sensitive is our direct competitor here, along with Medicam. Although one can argue that Medicam is a not a true Sensitivity Relief toothpaste, yet the market perceives it as a sensitivity relief option. Medicam commands around 20% of the share, while Colgate sensitive is at around 16%.

We are also working closely with the dental profession to increase awareness of the masses. Currently, more than 80% dentists recommend Sensodyne.

Our research says that this segment has witnessed a slowdown in the last 2 years? Is a pickup visible now?

Well, the market hasn’t gone down much in the past two years to be honest. In fact, the oral care market has seen double digit growth. Colgate has grown by over 30-40%, so the growth is rapid. You can also see 15-20% category growth.

In fact, we have had trouble satisfying the market demand. To meet the increasing market demand we have had to import Sensodyne, hence you see Sensodyne complete protection in the market. We are actively working to build capacity, and there are several plans in place for the said.

However, we are not growing at the same pace as some of the other Countries are. It is sad to say that Pakistan has one of the World’s lowest per capita consumption of toothpaste. Our neighbor India has five times the consumption per capita. So, we need to work harder.

Pakistan obviously has reasons to the lag. We have had terrible geo-political disturbances over the past decade, there hasn’t been much focus on education; and of course trade has been a challenge as well. Investors are reluctant to invest in Pakistan, and hence your entire economic wheel gets disturbed. I sincerely do hope that things settle soon.

On the other hand, I am a strong advocate of positivity, and I believe that education and awareness is of essence. The room for growth is immense, but work needs to go on ground to translate the potential into business.

Q. Are you planning to focus on the general toothpaste market as well?

We certainly have world renowned brands, but since we come from a very strong pharmaceutical background, I believe that we should take leverage from our brand. We should focus on what we do best – sell the solution.

We are focusing on the medicated toothpaste segment. 35% of the segment is sensitivity, and 25% bleeding gums; hence we are trying to build the Parodontax brand as well. This is our solution for bleeding gums. I can see Parodontax entering the Sensodyne league soon.

What is your rural urban mix?

In Pakistan it is predominantly urban, for obvious reasons of course. Urban centers have more education, hence awareness. We are actively working to reach out to rural areas, and this is very much our focus for the coming year.

What will be your focus for 2014-15?

Our focus would be Sensodyne; to build the brand further and continue as the market leader. It is our desire to take further lead in terms of sales and brand image. We will be focusing on education and mass awareness programs.

What is your major focus in the 5 Year and 10 Year Plan?

In the five year plan we are looking to build more capacity and improve our market penetration further. We will also be looking to explore new markets, within and outside Pakistan – provided our capacity allows. We will also be focusing on the general toothpaste category – AquaFresh.

In the ten year plan we will be working to improve and enhance our infrastructure. We will also be looking to bring more innovative products to the market, like Corega.

The toothpaste market leaders have been facing competition from smaller players?

Well the competition has never been stiff really. In our pie we can see Colgate and Shield taking the big chunks, and that is what we are focusing on.

Several Oral Care Companies have taken an initiative to grow the market by promoting “Twice a day” brushing through their campaigns, are you planning a similar campaign for GSK?

We certainly advocate the same. Brushing twice a day was a very smart campaign; it only helped improve oral hygiene but also helped move double the volumes. We advocate regular brushing, even more than twice at times, in our various awareness and hygiene programs.

Q. How has your experience been at GSK?

It has been a roller coaster ride, to say the least. Sometimes when I look at the calendar, I can hardly believe that so many years have gone by. GSK has been my home for almost three decades and this is a lot of time we are talking about.

My experience has been fabulous. I look back at all my years with a lot of fondness. GSK has developed me into the professional I am today, and from the company I have learnt honesty, hard work and dedication. GSK is truly a company an employee can feel proud of.

Q. What is your advice to the Dental Profession?

The Dental Community has a huge role to play. This is because this profession is still under-developed and the room for growth is immense. On behalf of GSK, I would like to assure that Dental Profession that we will stand by you in your positive activities for awareness and hygiene improvement. The profession will always see GSK working closely with the dentists to improve the oral care industry in Pakistan.

We are the commercial partners for the Dental Profession, and we believe that it has to be a win-win situation for everyone. From our side, we would like to extend our support in terms of education and awareness programs, and also R&D.

We do, and we would like to continue to, work very closely with the Dental Colleges and Institutes; and we will always be looking for opportunities to work on joint projects.

Q. Lastly, I would like to have your comment on Dental News.

GSK has worked with Dental News for many years and I feel that Dental News has done a fantastic job. It has acted as the perfect bridge with the Commercial organizations and the Dental Profession. I would like to appreciate the efforts, the company puts in to bring all partners on a singular platform, be it print, workshops, symposia or conferences. I would like to wish Dental News all the success in the future.

July 4, 2014

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