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Colgate Professional Direct is a new online service that allows clinicians to recommend dental products to patients, who receive discounts.
There is only so much that can be done while a dental patient is in the operatory. A patient’s dental health and success of treatment often rely on a home care routine and adherence to follow-up instructions.
Enforcing this remains a challenge, and making sure the patient is using the right home care products is often difficult. Some practices keep an inventory of these products to sell (or sometimes give) to patients, but this model is not a fit for every practice, either due to a lack of inventory space, reluctance to sell products from the practice, or other reasons.
In response to such issues, Colgate recently launched Colgate Professional Direct (CPD), an online resource for clinicians and patients. The service allows dental professionals to recommend Colgate products to patients. The patients are notified of the recommendation by email and text, and may purchase the product from the CPD website at a discount. The practice then collects 10% of that sales price.
“It’s super-convenient for both professionals and patients,” says Colgate Professional Direct Brand Manager Flávia Palone Aldarvis Bacarin. “Our goal was to expand and really become the No. 1 partner of professionals to recommend oral care products.”
The CPD site was created based on research Colgate conducted with dental professionals. The research identified key issues related to product recommendations, including lack of accountability from patients, the challenges of selling products from a practice, and the difficulty some patients experience in finding recommended products in a store, Bacarin says.
Every part of the new service was designed for convenience, Bacarin says. The site features simple navigation. Clinicians, including dentists, hygienists and dental assistants, may set up a free account and begin sending recommendations to patients in minutes. Practices may choose how they want to receive the sales commissions, and if the dental professional doesn’t want to receive the commission in their bank account, Colgate will direct the funds to Colgate Bright Smiles Bright Futures program, Bacarin adds.
Helping improve communication regarding product recommendations is another goal of the site. The site includes information that can help improve patient understanding of how home care products work and why they are important. Additionally, the CPD site tracks when patients purchase a recommended product through a clinician dashboard.
“Home care products are super-important as part of the patient’s treatment,” Bacarin says. “It’s very important as a complement to the professional in-office treatment. It’s proven that good oral care not only helps to avoid oral health problems, but also prevents systemic problems. This is also a good way for (professionals) to make sure the patient gets what they recommend.”
Patients have responded positively to the CPD service, Bacarin says. When they receive a recommendation, clicking through to the website automatically places the recommended product in their shopping cart with the discount applied. Bacarin says the discounts average 20%, and although anyone may access the site to browse and even to purchase products directly from Colgate, the discounts are only available through a recommendation from a dental professional.
“If a patient wants (to) go to our site, they can buy anything they want, but they will pay the full price,” Bacarin says. “The discounted price is just through the professional recommendation.”
Purchases made through the site are shipped directly to patients, which makes it even more convenient for patients to follow clinical recommendations. According to Bacarin, feedback from early adopters shows that patients like this convenience because it saves them time shopping for the products. Combined with the discounts, she says, that is a big advantage.
The site currently features most Colgate products available through direct-to-consumer sales. Bacarin says Colgate is working to make prescription-strength home care products available through the site as well.
Bacarin adds that current offerings are likely just the beginning, with Colgate listening to feedback from site users. The site allows one discounted purchase and one commission based on a recommendation, but users are asking for standing recommendations for products patients likely will need to order more than once. Bacarin says Colgate is working to allow recommendations that will not expire, which will expand patient access to discounted products and commission opportunities for the practices recommending the products.
“We are looking for feedback from early adopters to make improvements in the platform,” Bacarin says.
Dental professionals interested in recommending products via the CPD website may register at pro.colgatedirect.com.