History & Marketing Strategies of Vicks Vaporub

Company Name: Vicks VapoRub
Founder: Lunsford Richardson

Vicks VapoRub is an ointment company known for its pain and cold relieving salve. Every product from the Vicks company emphasis on providing relief from common cold symptoms and joints or muscles pain. This is only applicable for external use and is recommended to use on the back, chest and on the throat for getting maximum effects of the ointments. 

For many years, Vicks VapoRub has been a critical ointment in every household first aid box. It has provided several mothers a way to quickly treat her child from any kind of minor injuries. With the help of several products, Vicks VapoRub helps its customer in fighting against the cold in an effective manner.  

How it all started

The initial product was developed by a French pharmacist known as Jules Bengue for the treatment of gout, neuralgia, and arthritis. Later on Lunsford Richardson, another pharmacist from North Carolina developed a new salve by mixing petroleum jelly with menthol. He branded this salve under the name of Richardson’s Croup and Pneumonia Cure Salve. In the year of 1890s, he rebranded the salve under the name of Vicks VapoRub. 

He named the product after the name of his brother-in-law Joshua Vick who helped him by lending him a lab for developing this salve. In the year of 1905, Vicks VapoRub was sold in the market. This company had its major breakthrough in the year 1919 when the Spanish flu began spreading in the USA. Later in the year of 1931, the released Vicks Cough Drops which was an instant hit among the general mass population. 

After establishing itself in the market, it began to release innovative products for providing relief to the general masses. Until 1985, all products were developed and owned by the Richardson-Vicks, Inc., which was from Greensboro, North Carolina. In the year of 1985, the company was taken over by Procter & Gamble, which is presently known as Vicks. 



After buying the company, it continued to develop more variants of products for increasing the target audience. The products would mainly contain ointments, inhaled breathing solution, and liquid drops, which are effective towards common cold and muscles joints. All products were developed for providing over the counter medication for symptoms such as headache, slight fever, nasal or chest congestion, and for sinus problems. 

A Public Limited Company known as Richardson Hindustan Limited (RHL) introduced Vicks VapoRub in India in the year of 1964. This company was a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble that operated in India. After it was introduced in the Indian market, the product from the company became an instant hit. In the year of 1985, RHL was taken over by the parent company Procter & Gamble. At that time, India has already become the largest producer of Vicks VapoRub among 130 other countries.

Vicks VapoRub’s Marketing Strategy and Interesting Reasons behind Its Grand Success

High effectiveness of all products: There are about four seasons in our country, which includes dry winters and hot monsoons. Therefore, it is very common for the general masses of India to suffer from common cold and fever. After the introduction of Vicks VapoRub in India, people were impressed with the quick effectiveness of the medication that increased its demand in India. It quick action effectiveness against common cold ailments and muscle or joint pain made it more popular among the general masses of India. 

Grassroots approach: Indian people have a habit of blending their home remedies with modern medicine, which would prove effective in many cases. After encountering such application of their products, they used a grassroots approach for exposing themselves to the general masses of India. For example, the method of adding a spoonful of Vicks VapoRub in a hot water for inhaling its steam was discovered during their regular field checks. Such types of approach not only increased its application but also magnified its popularity.

The positive effect of Ayurveda: During its early years’ company notice the favoritism of general masses towards Ayurveda. Indian people have a great faith upon the Ayurvedic medicines. Therefore, the company was able to launch completely natural and more effective ointment, which was based on the ancient texts of Ayurveda. The company marketed it under tagline Natural, Herbal, Ayurvedic Product. This made it more popular among the people of India.

Effective exposure of the company: In India, the product range of this company includes Vicks VapoRub, Vicks Cough Drops, Vicks Inhaler, Vicks Action 500 Extra, and Vicks VapoCool. All these products were marketed as under its legendary tagline “The only thing more powerful than a mother’s touch”. This company also would also use regular means of mass communication for exposing their products in a more effective way. 


Vicks VapoRub Campaigns 

The ionic marketing campaign, which helped Vicks VapoRub to get established in India was the “Khich-Khich” campaign. It signifies the effectiveness and warm feeling of a mother towards her child with the help of Vicks VapoRub. This campaign was the most effective campaign launched by the company that helped it in becoming a household item. 

This company has also collaborated with several other sports star and celebrities for promoting their products. Vicks collaborated with cricketer Virat Kohli for promoting Vicks MultiPain Relief Gel. Recently, the company has launched another campaign known as #TouchOfCare under the tag line of “Every Child Deserves the Touch of Care”. It showcases the transformation of living conditions of an unfortunate girl with the help of her adoptive parents. The company has repeatedly focused on its famous tagline “breathe life in” for emphasizing on its core vision. 



Vicks VapoRub presently has established itself as the leading company for fast relief ointments. This company was launched in India with a single product. But now, it has several medical over the counter products, which are popular among the general mass of India. This company has always tried to develop new medicine for that would be helpful for the common masses of India. 

Lakhs of people were benefitted from this products. This has increased its trust and popularity of the brand. And for maintaining this popularity and trust, the company strives to develop new over the counter medicinal products.    


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