Sunday, October 28, 2007

‘Healthentertainment’ and the mobile – two new marketing platforms

Hritik Roshan is a popular Indian film star who has abundant sex appeal and health.

Creating value and soft power (attraction power)

Marketing involves creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and managing relationships for mutual benefits. Marketing implies creating a culture around the products and services offered. For instance the coffee drinking experience at Café Coffee Day is not about drinking a cup of coffee alone, it is an augmented experience - a place to socialize with acquaintances. This is the culture of a café experience. Value delivery implies creating a culture.

This is the relevance of the soft power of a country – an acceptable component of a country’s culture. For instance, acupuncture and Chinese Traditional Medicine are not merely healthcare systems, but very much a part of the soft power of China. Thus, marketing or delivering value to the target audience based on the soft power of a country has the innate strength of playing on the cultural component and this makes the product more acceptable. The tea drinking culture of Japan is unique and thus herbal teas of Japan will have an edge as far as acceptance is concerned. Soft power based pharma or healthcare marketing has its own strengths.

Entertainment is an important component of the cultural mainstream in India

In India, films, songs, dance and TV sitcoms are a major source of entertainment. These are important threads of Indian culture. Thus, the opportunity lies bringing in the entertainment theme in healthcare marketing. The challenge however, is doing the same with out diluting the seriousness of the healthcare issue. So in essence:

‘HEALTHENTERTAINMENT’ is a marketing platform that uses entertainment themes in the marketing, communication and value delivery process for healthcare products (including pharma products).

The ’healthentertainment’ trend is a high potential marketing format

Film star endorsements for healthcare awareness campaigns are a very well known theme in marketing and communication activity. For instance, the famous appearance of film stars Amitabh Bachhan and Aishwarya Rai for the PULSE POLIO campaign is one example of healthentertainment. However, it is not that the above TV advertisement is entertaining – however, it has an entertainment theme in it (as film stars are endorsing the polio immunization drive).

So in essence health and pharma concepts are marketed based on components of entertainment culture - such as involving entertainment stars and other entertaining formats.

HEALTH ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA IS NOT NEW TO THE WORLD please click here This medium is dedicated to raising awareness and creating discussion on health and disease issues in an engaging and entertaining way.

In the FHMG segment Perfetii has generated a great message & highly entertaining TV advt. that is virally going around the internet too. The advt. is for the Happydent chewing gum that whitens and shines teeth. Please CLICK HERE.

In the core pharma sector it would have been beneficial and highly impacting to have involved film stars in the launch and promotion of sildenafil based brands. It would be interesting to have hot film star pairs talking on the importance of an aphrodisiac brand for enhancing husband – wife relationship. This promotional theme will definitely cause demand expansion and increased prescription flow for the aphrodisiac brand. For eg., a promotional theme in which, Kapikacchu and its effect in strengthening husband – wife relationship being discussed by say Dharmendra and Hemamalini (the same can be put in print, video and audio clips).

Mobile phones and the 'healthentertainment' formats converging for healthcare and pharma promotion

It is widely acknowledged that the mobile phone is the most persuasive of the marketing communication tools available in society today. Even more interesting is the fact that in China and India, internet-mobile penetration is more than broadband and is revolutionizing communication and information access. Already Airtel is positioning itself as an augmented mobile GSM service provider. Airtel helps you listen to 10,000 songs and use the Google search engine on internet. So Airtel is not just about mobile telephony. It is now reinventing itself as an augmented mobile service provider.

Now imagine the convergence of mobile phone service and healthentertainment marketing formats.

For eg., during the process of detailing the MR can play a 50 second audio or video clip on his mobile where a leading doctor shares his clinical opinion about the product. Or for that matter in the rocking growth segment of trichology and dermacosmetology a video clip of a leading dermatologist like Dr. Trashi treating a film star or model with a particular product can be played on the mobile as part of a persuasive approach of the MR. For that matter Mr. Narendran a colleague of mine has successfully used his mobile as a product promotional tool. Please CLICK HERE for more information.

In case, of pediatric products, 50 second video clips featuring child stars (both tele and film) using a multivitamin product on advice of a pediatrician can be shown on the mobile to the doctor being detailed to by the MR. This will obviously enhance in-clinic effectiveness and open a new medium for MRs to operate and persuade doctors very effectively.

Internet enabled mobile phones can play entertainment based healthcare podcasts mingling product messages to doctors. For eg., a doctor can sign up for a pharma company sponsored light ghazal song at exactly 10.00 pm every night. This will be played automatically by the GSM service provider on the mobile of the doctor, mingling the product message.

Thus, we see above some examples on how, the ‘healthentertainment’ and mobile marketing formats can synergize to augment healthcare or pharma product promotion in India (as entertainment is an important cultural thread of Indian society and the mobile has very high penetration, and the mobile is the most persuasive marketing tool today.)

This is my 54th blogpost, please do read all my earlier posts too, by clicking on older posts where necessary. Thnks and Godspeed. Sunil S Chiplunkar.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Paradigm is a framework of values, concepts, and ideas. A paradigm serves as a model or pattern. The la-affaire Exubera goes down in management case study books as a victim of a paradigm shift in the world of Pharma marketing. The paradigm shift we are talking about can be christened as the cyber paradigm. It is a powerful new frontier in healthcare, which will only get more and more powerful in days to come. In fact, this paper here identifies the cyber paradigm phenomenon as a driving force of 21st century business. The article uses the term New Generation Internet (NGI) that describes the phenomenon, which will drive marketing communication, business, and social life.

Cyberspace and Pharma marketing

Healthcare is one of the most important reasons why the advanced world and many in the emerging markets are logging on to the internet. The information superhighway has also created opinion builder bloggers like Amy in the case of diabetes. Conversations in the cyberspace (blogs, message boards, healthcare websites…) are building opinions about products and influencing consumption patterns.

The patent paradigm

In the pre-internet days, life was simpler for Pharma companies. You had to innovate a dosage formulation or invent a drug, patent the product (that assures a monopoly market), build a clinical database, market it to target doctors using some SOPs (seminars, conference sponsorships, freebies, gifts, etc), and more importantly doctors had the authority to ensure patient compliance through prescriptions and counseling. However, the advent of the internet has changed the rules of the Pharma marketing game. The patent and market paradigm for Pharma products is no longer robust. Disruptive forces in markets are creating newer uncertainties that are challenging established business models. Thus, the patent and market model for Pharma markets is under siege. As this web ( says aloud disruptive forces are flattening the world and creating new opportunities and threats. In fact, IT (internet) is empowering people with healthcare information and tools in a way as never before in human history and this is causing disruptions in existing Pharma business models.

The challenge is to understand Pharma and Healthcare market behavior and the disruptive forces

The foremost challenge for Pharma and healthcare companies, today, is to understand the target market behavior, trends, and the disruptive forces in the market. Among the current forces to change the dynamics of Pharma and healthcare product consumption is the cyber paradigm and this trend is here to stay, and only gain momentum in days to come. With web 2.0 metamorphosis to web 3.0 where intuitive search results and a higher level of interactivity is expected, the internet will be ubiquitous in our social behavior. Already people are watching the cyberspace on Google Health and Microsoft’s Healthvault.

Exubera story

The Exubera story is not that of a product failure per se. It is about a Pharma product that got tossed in the Pharma and Healthcare cybersea full of eddies, currents, and storms. Exubera was like the ship Titanic (the product was huge), and the product hit a huge iceberg on the cybersea. The iceberg was unmapped netizen behavior. Only the tip was visible and the rest was not understood. The result Exubera…is a multi billion dollar loss case study in Pharma marketing.

The internet is changing the way people understand and access healthcare. The market will increasingly become OTX (a combination of over-the-counter and prescription based) rather than prescription dominated.

The moral of the Exubera story

IT IS PERILOUS TO IGNORE THE CYBER PARADIGM IN PHARMA AND HEALTHCARE. The net is not about nerds it is about you, I, and other ‘non-nerds’.

Kindly do read my other blogposts too, by clicking on OLDER POSTS, when required.
For titanic sinking:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Marketing has an important dimension that strengthens its goal to increase consumption. This important dimension is CRM or customer relationship management. The processes and techniques in CRM depend on customer profile, and service or product offered. The attributes of the product and service should lend value to the customer’s profile.

For eg., a clinician like a pediatrician offers immunization shots regularly as a part of his or her clinical practice. It is a very valuable clinical input to his patients. Let us imagine a healthcare company or a company that markets products to kids and babies partners Google Health in CRM (customer relationship management).

To begin with, let us firstly see the immunization schedule as per the Indian Academy of Pediatricians:


This means that the immunization schedule helps interested companies to connect with the target audience, and engage in CRM activities for at least up to 2 years from birth.

Let us imagine that a company that markets products to a target audience of kids and babies (like Cerelac, Farex, Kellogs, babycare products, vaccine manufacturers etc) chooses to offer an augmented CRM service in collaboration with Google Health as per the following flowchart:

Step 1:

Kellogs partners with doctor to participate and offer the mobile based immunization alert and e-mail alerts program in association with Google Health.

Step 2:

Collection of mobile nos. and e-mail ids of interested parents through doctor.

Step 3:

Computerized entry of date of birth of child, and immunization chart specially created for the child is e-mailed : “IMMUNIZATION CHART OF BABY MADHUPRITA” Name of doctor: Dr. Pai DCH Address of doctor: Phone of doctor: Such details will be provided in the e-mail statement.

Step 4:

Google Health provides the above above e-mail chart regularly updated, and sends reminder alerts (through mobile and e-mail) to parents about the future immunizations.

This is a win-win relationship for all participants in the above process:

a) Google Health gets a kid and then the family to engage in its services. Google Health can establish a relationship that begins with immunization, and later can go ahead for online medical records and such other services.

For eg. let us say Jane (32 years) starts this immunization alert system through Dr. Paul for her baby daughter Shiny. As she gets used to the alerts and finds them useful, she may start enrolling for DOSAGE ALERTS for ensuring that her husband Henry (38 years) takes the antidiabetic medication on time every day.

b) For the healthcare or pediatric oriented company it is a great way to connect with the end-customer.


In the above eg., we see that it is a win-win relationship for Kellog as this company can connect to the target audience, Google Health gets a winning relationship with a family, and Dr. Pai gets subliminal marketing for his clinical services.

This above is an example of how Google Health can enable CRM for Pharma, and healthcare companies.

In fact, this Google Health enabled CRM model can be extrapolated to management of menopausal symptoms in women. Soy product manufacturers can extend Google Health enabled CRM for menopausal women by keeping a track of the DEXA bone mineral density measurements, dosage alerts, and providing tips on special menopausal care through mobile and e-mails.

This is a citizen marketing evangelism type of blogpost. It is my 52nd blogpost – please do read all my blogposts, you may have to click on older posts to read all the blogposts.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Have you ever thought of chewing gum as a healthcare product? In the above picture you can see a green tea chewing gum! The trend of FMHG products is really on worldwide and now in India too!

Perfetii has committed a marketing coup in India. They have launched HAPPYDENT WHITE SPARKLING SMILE as an APPROVED PROPRIETARY AYURVEDIC MEDICINE. This product contains per dragee, Neem satva 0.7 mg, Meetha (baking soda) 4.2 mg, Pudina satva 3.22 mg, Pudina tailam 0.392 mg, Nilgiri tailam 0.392 mg; sugar base qs, gum base qs; and is classified as a functional gum.

Ayurveda seems to be a most versatile medicinal and healing science. Or probably there are a lot of flexibilities (loopholes?) in the scientific and regulatory framework of Ayurveda that helps in presenting various products as Ayurvedic. There are probably no allopathic chewing gums. Happydent is an unique first-of-its kind Ayurvedic healthcare chewing gum. Protex Happydent from Perfetii contains aspartame (sugar free chewing gum) and this too is an Ayurvedic chewing gum.

Benefits of chewing gum

Chewing gum offers various benefits. For instance this webpage says that chewing gums containing xylitol like Protex Happydent (sugar free) offer certain benefits that have been approved by dental associations -

Xylitol For Dental Health
Sugar free chewing gums and sweeteners containing Xylitol have already received approval from dental associations. It enhances all prevention methods for preventing dental caries or cavities. And even has the ability to reverse existing cavities. Chewing gum and sucking mints which contain Xylitol puts the Xylitol directly into contact with the teeth. It is best to use it 3 to 5 times a day for maximum benefit with 4 to 12 grams per day being a very effective dosage. Replace ordinary chewing gum and breath mints with Xylitol products as well as mouthwash. Tooth decay is caused by a combination of bacteria and sugar. Acids and other substances that occur on cell walls cause bacteria to build in our mouths. Xylitol prevents acids from forming in the mouth and reduces the growth of bacteria by as much as 90%. It also decreases the formation of plaque. Effects are not only long-lasting, but could possibly be permanent. Another great thing about this natural sweetener is children love it!

Wrigley’s, the world leaders in chewing gum, highlight the following benefits of chewing gum:

Not Just Delicious, But Healthy
Most everybody loves to chew gum, whether for the flavor or just for the simple pleasure of chewing. But did you know that chewing gum also:

Improves Concentration
At work, chewing gum helps us concentrate on the task at hand. Many truck drivers find that chewing gum helps them stay alert at the wheel.
Eases Tension
As early as 1939, scientific studies showed how chewing reduces muscular tension and helps people feel more at ease. Because it is so well-recognized for helping stay alert at the same time it eases tension, the U.S. Armed Forces have supplied chewing gum to its soldiers ever since World War I. It is still included in field and combat rations today.
Freshens Breath
Chewing gum, especially a mint-flavored gum like Wrigley's Spearmint or Doublemint, moistens and refreshes the mouth and throat and sweetens the breath. Provides a -
Low-calorie Snack
Chewing gum often satisfies the desire for a between-meals snack, yet each stick averages less than 10 calories. Helps Fight Tooth Decay After meals, it isn't always convenient to use a toothbrush. Chewing gum stimulates the production of saliva, which helps neutralize acids from foods that may cause tooth decay.

Read more at this website comes from Wrigley.

Happydent White on You Tube

Happydent White has a good presence on blogs, agency web pages, and on You Tube.

Click here: ad film for Happydent White on You Tube is really funny and enjoyable

Happydent White and Perfetii are making news right from 2001:

Their online marketing for strengthening word-of-mouth or word-of-web publicity is really great. Just click here: May be we pharma marketers should pick up a leaf on how to strengthen pharma product online presence and internet pharma marketing communication activity from the above link.
For a FMCG market player with a FMHG look the Perfetii website is a whole load of fun marketing. Click here:

Perfetii – a big gun or big gum (?) in India!

Perfetii a big name in the confectionary market has to its credit over Rs. 400 crores sales within a decade of its presence in India. Their expectation of 2007 sales is around Rs. 700 crores.

Their brands like Big Babool, Centerfresh, Mentos, and Alpenliebe are household names in India now.

Perfetii is a big player in the FMCG confectionary market in India – and Perfetti brands are having a healthcare positioning along with fun and taste attributes. It is really unusual & somewhat hilarious to see an Ayurvedic chewing gum.

Contra thinking on chewing gum

Chewing gum habit can be dangerous. Here is an interesting report on the sugar free chewing gum

Chewing gum: fun product or healthcare product or both?

I guess chewing gum is OK as a fun product. A time pass product. I am not sure about its merits to be classified as an approved Ayurvedic proprietary medicine. Yes medicine! That is a debatable point. And now can all functional foods be classified as Ayurvedic products? That is another front for debating. In India there is a trend to sell FMCG products with a health hook – ie., as a product that helps health. Now, presenting Happydent White as an Ayurvedic functional gum really takes the cake. Is it trivializing the science of Ayurveda? That is for the Ayurvedic pundits to debate on. So in essence, Happydent White Sparkling Smile chewing gum is a functional healthcare fun product.

This is my 51st blogpost – do enjoy reading all of my other blogposts, by clicking on older posts when required.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Soft power and a single herbal product license

The herbal market picture

The herbal market along with the Indian healthcare market is looking up. Growth is the catch all word in healthcare today.

In fact, this 2004 report from The Times of India states:The Indian herbal health care segment seems to have swallowed a vitamin pill. The segment grew at a rate of 12 per cent last year, and there is no immediate sign of the momentum slowing down, with an expected growth rate of 20 per cent this year. The domestic herbal market has now crossed the Rs 5,000 crore mark, and is set to reach further heights this year. Herbal exports from India is worth Rs 450 crore, whereas even a decade back the amount was barely Rs 100 crore. This may not be a huge sum when compared to the Chinese herbal exports market which is worth Rs 2,000 crore; but the sheer potential of the Indian herbal companies should make people sit up and take notice.

The attractive growth of the domestic herbal market is reinforced by a global herbal trend as per World Health Organization (WHO):THE green consumer is coming of age. The demand for medicinal plants is increasing everyday and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has projected that the global herbal market will grow to $5 trillion by 2050 from the current level of $62 billion.

Generating prescriptions for herbals

In India the doctors are the most important opinion builders for pharma and healthcare products.

According to marketers, Indian consumers have preconceived notions on brands, advertisements and people. When models wearing white coat are shown in ads, consumers attach a positive connotation that adds to the credibility of brand preposition. Mothers often listen in rapt attention when a neighborhood doctor suggests Hindustan Lever’s (HLL) Huggies diapers for bed wetting babies. HLL’s Lifebuoy Liquid and Reckitt Benkiser’s surface care brand Lysol say it all with a ‘doctor’ by their side. The doctor is a way of assuring the mother (in case of Horlicks and Complan). Marketers always want an endorser, be it celebrities, or authority figures such as doctors and teachers. It kind of becomes instructive for the functional benefits of the product category. “
- from the Economic Times dated 12.2.2007, 6

Revital from Ranbaxy is marketed with the Rainbow Coalition Product Promotional plan, in which, Revital is promoted to both doctors and end-consumers. Revital, containing Chinese ginseng, vitamins and minerals is categorized as a nutritional or dietary supplement, and thus, gets the support of all specialties of doctors (allopaths, ayurveds, etc). Had it been classified as an Ayurvedic product, the prescriber base would have got limited, and business results would be muted.

It is important to open the use of herbals, herbomineralvitamin formulations, and herbominerals to all medical practitioners by issuing a single herbal or herbomineralvitamin or herbomineral product license and not through separate categorizations as Ayurvedic, Siddha or Unani products. The complete data of whether the product is Ayurvedic, or Unani or Siddha, can be collected by the AYUSH department for records, but the license and label should simply mention as an herbal or herbomineral or herbomineralvitamin product. There is a need to go beyond the Ayurvedic, Siddha, and Unani licensing regimes – they only add to the herbal confusion.

The present licensing regimes as Ayurvedic etc, strengthens the defensiveness of allopaths (who form the bulk of the Indian prescriber market), and they resist from prescribing some of these medicines. However, a herbal product like standardized Centella asiatica extract from Roche (for blood vessel problems like varicose veins) or silymarin (German herbal product for liver disorders) or the Gingko biloba extract from German Remedies are categorized or labeled as allopathic products, and hence prescribed by allopaths. The objection from potential allopathic prescribers (who are the bulk of the prescribers in India) is not for the herbal actives used in the pharma product, but for the words An Ayurvedic Proprietary Medicine or A Sidda Proprietary Medicine.

It is important to present the native Indian pharma product to potential prescribers in a way that is welcome and generates confidence on the safety and efficacy of the product, and one way of doing this is by abolishing labeling as Ayurvedic or Siddha or Unani and labeling such products simply as Herbal or Herbomineral or Herbomineralvitamin. In that sense, Revital from Ranbaxy containing Chinese ginseng, vitamins and minerals, is a dietary or nutritional supplement, and this is a neutral labeling as it is neither Ayurvedic or Siddha or Unani. Hence, Revital enjoys a fund of confidence from all types of prescribers in India.

At stake here, is the soft power of India

The word soft power was coined by Joseph Nye, a distinguished professor of Harvard. The soft power of a country rests primarily on three resources: its culture (in places where it is attractive to others), its political values (when it lives up to them at home and abroad), and its foreign policies (when they are seen as legitimate and having moral authority.)

Soft power is a great product and service differentiator. Even the giants of global Pharma industry cannot match the way Kerala serves the world through Ayurveda (soft power component here is Ayurveda). In fact, the solidity and depth of success of companies like The Himalaya Drug Company comes from the fact that they have banked on the soft power of India.

So let the Govt., throw open the use of herbals to a broader audience (which would include allopaths – who form the bulk of the prescriber segment in India), and build the clinical experience for these soft power Indian products in modern parameters. Lack of clinical data in modern terms should not cause a loss of market opportunity for India. At stake is the soft power of India, the cultural history of India, and a slice of the past that is intrinsically Indian. In case of basmati rice patent case, we were reactive in taking care of Indian interest; in the neem patent case we scraped through. The business world however, has no mercy and keeps profits at the forefront. Let us observe, for a businessman, everything is fair in love, war, and business. (Sorry, can’t help, but think of Iraq war here). Being proactive and assertive is a wiser approach to defend and strengthen the soft power of India.

Today wars of a different type are on. It is a soft power war, and battles are fought in the marketplace with brands. Business interests drive and influence Govt. and military action in today’s world. The era of brand colonization is on. Today, Dyanora TV, EC TV, Crown TV, Weston TV, which were top TV brands of India at one time are not even in human memory for many in India. No wonder, they say public memory is short. Similarly, in the cola market Thums Up, Campa Cola etc are nowhere to be seen; and Coca Cola and Pepsi are now becoming a part of the Indian culture, psyche, and marketplace.

The herbal actives of Indian heritage will come back through allopathic field in a different form for eg., rauvolfia alkaloids (reserpine), vinca alkaloids (vincristine and vinblastin), and Taxol.

Pharma companies are not interested in any ‘pathies’ like allopathy, or any other branch of medicine. It is the marketability, corporate responsibility, patient interest, and top line and bottom line interests that matter to pharma companies. The main point is shareholder and stakeholder interests of the pharma company. For eg., consider the following brands in India of foreign (non-Indian) MNCs:

The interesting case of Calcium Sandoz

Of late, have you picked up a box of Calcium Sandoz? The label reads as follows:

Calcium Sandoz 250
Each chewable uncoated tablet contains:
Khatika Curna 625 mg
Nimbukamlam Shushkam 25 mg

This is a Novartis product. This multinational company was at the epicenter of the Glivec patent case. As per this link Calcium Sandoz contains calcium glubonate and calcium lactobionate in UK. In India the picture is as follows:

The historic product - Calcium Sandoz that had Calcium Carbonate now has something called Khatika Curna and Nimbukamlam and is A Proprietary Ayurvedic Medicine. Probably, Khatika Curna is Calcium carbonate and Nimbukamalam is Vit. D3. But type in Khatika Curna and Nimbukamlam in to you get nothing. In fact, you get as follows:

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This brand case is that of a silent metamorphosis from an allopathic product to an Ayurvedic proprietary medicine. What are the new features, benefits, and problems of the new active ingredients in Calcium Sandoz? So what does the 250 in the brand name stand for? Earlier it meant that each tablet offered 250 mg of elemental calcium. Is it possible to claim accurately 250 mg of elemental calcium in an Ayurvedic product? Is an Ayurvedic manufacturing process followed for Calcium Sandoz? Khatika Curna and nimbukamlam – from where are they sourced? What is the qualitative and quantitative Ayurvedic assay techniques used for the above product, with respect to Vitamin D3 and elemental calcium? Ayurvedic products are manufactured as per Bhavaprakasha nighantu etc. So which reference does this label follow? These aspects need to be looked into and not swept under the carpet.

This link on the official website of Novartis, describes the product Calcium Sandoz but does not use the words Khatika Curna and Nimbukamlam. Why? May be the webpage is not updated. Calcium is very well marketed OTC as a FMHG. May be the Ayurvedic avatar of Calcium Sandoz helped it go OTC and become a FMHG.

What about Iodex?

This age old product comes from GSK Consumer division. GSK is world leader MNC. Iodex too is an AYURVEDIC PROPRIETARY MEDICINE. When launched by Eskayef it was an allopathic product. It changed its licensing and affiliation sometime in 90s to Ayurvedic. Puzzling to note how the switch over of a pharma brand from one stream of medicine to another is easy.

If you click here: the web page does not give details of composition or even a hint of its Ayurvedic profile. But the Crocin web page gives very good details of its composition.

And is NPPA casting a Nelson’s eye on these brands?

The above pharma examples are unique and point to the challenges in the regulatory environment in India with the fast growth of Indian healthcare market.

Functional foods and regulatory challenges

With the healthcare boom, rise of the functional foods market and herbal market, regulatory challenges are many. For eg., Saffola Gold is positioned as a cooking oil medium that helps reduce blood cholesterol levels. Is it safe for my daughter 61/2 years of age to eat puris three times a week cooked in Saffola Gold for the rest of her life? Or should my wife use Saffola Gold while cooking for the aged members in my family, and regular Saffola for the younger ones? These questions and many others will crop up when the functional foods market gains steam. There is a thin line between medical claims and health claims. To address such public concerns the USA has a dietary supplement health regulation act.

Regulatory changes in USA

Come Nov 2007, there will be debate in the USA to start a new category of pharma products called behind-the-counter medicines. This means pharmacies in USA will have over-the-counter medicines, prescription products, and probably a new categorization for some medicines called behind-the-counter medicines. This new category of products will not require a prescription for purchase similar to the over-the-counter pharma products. It must be noted here that the merit of India’s pharma market is the fact that it is an OTX market, which USA is now trying to make happen through a new behind-the-counter medicines category.

A single herbal or herbomineral or herbovitaminmineral product license

The answer to knotty problems as above, lies in a single herbal or herbomineral or herbomineralvitamin product license. Not Ayurvedic, not allopathic, not siddha, not unani and what have you…only a single simple license that makes the product amenable to prescriptions from all doctors (whether allopathic, ayurvedic, unani…). And then unleash the potential of herbal soft power of India for the world.

This is my 50th blogpost - yes I have completed a half a century of blogposts. Please do read all other blogposts by clicking on older posts wherever required.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Saffola is not just a cooking oil medium, this brand is evolving - constantly reinventing itself - fast becoming a functional food brand in the FMHG segment. For eg., we see a Saffola additive product for wheat flour that helps reduce blood cholesterol. Read on and experience the buzz in the emerging market of FMHG products...

Today the pharma, healthcare, and beauty market in India is rocking. It is also evident that FMCG products are promoting products on the health platform. For instance, Saffola Gold is a cooking medium. This oil has an additive called oryzanol that helps lower cholesterol. On World Heart Day there was an interesting sms mobile phone based product promotional campaign from Saffola. If you send a sms to a number then you can get a free cholesterol blood test done. In this campaign we observe that Saffola a FMCG product is using the health platform with very positive effect, and they have married the most persuasive technology - mobile phone – for their campaign on World Health Day. In fact, Saffola Gold contains rice bran oil that contains the oryzanol.


FMHG (Fast Moving Health Goods) market represents products for health that are directly promoted to end consumers. For eg., Saffola Gold a FMCG product is more like a FMHG product the way it is promoted; health drinks (like Complan and Horlicks) are FMHG products. Equal and other low calorie sweeteners, Benadryl and Glycodin the cough syrups, Tums and Gelusil the antacids, Vicks, Coldarin, Anacin, Listerine, Waterbury’s Compound, Woodwards gripe water, and Iodex are some of the other FMHG products.

Revital is also in the FMHG product market, however, its business and marketing model is unique and is called the rainbow coalition product promotional model. Essentially in this model while Revital product promotional messages are targeted to patients and end consumers on one end, doctors too are promoted this product for oral endorsements, recommendations, and prescriptions. The success story of this product is definitely inspiring. The Jan 2007 ORG IMS figures show that Revital, which contains Chinese ginseng, is ranked all India 35th with a MAT value of Rs. 55.56 crores, 54.8% growth and 133% EI %! As per March 2007 values, REVITAL is the 31st largest pharma brand with MAT value of Rs. 61.89 crores, 65.34% growth and has a EI% of 145%. Revital has improved its sales and product ranking even further in present months.

The action is hotting up even further in the FMHG market with the booming healthcare market and entry of foreign brands. In the derma segment, Garnier, Ponds, Emami, Fair & Lovely, L’Oreal, Olay etc are slugging it out. These brands are focused on product promotion to end -consumers directly. However, they are ignoring one important lesson that is provided here quoted from Economic Times:

Brand belief: they buy just what doc orders

According to marketers, Indian consumers have preconceived notions on brands, advertisements and people. When models wearing white coat are shown in ads, consumers attach a positive connotation that adds to the credibility of brand preposition. Mothers often listen in rapt attention when a neighborhood doctor suggests Hindustan Lever’s (HLL) Huggies diapers for bed wetting babies. HLL’s Lifebuoy Liquid and Reckitt Benkiser’s surface care brand Lysol say it all with a ‘doctor’ by their side. The doctor is a way of assuring the mother (in case of Horlicks and Complan). Marketers always want an endorser, be it celebrities, or authority figures such as doctors and teachers. It kind of becomes instructive for the functional benefits of the product category
. “

-from the Economic Times dated 12.2.2007, 6

The lessons are clear

From the above Economic Times report, and the success story of Revital, one thing is evident doctors are very important opinion builders for healthcare brands. In fact, the success of brands and campaigns hinges on connecting brands to opinion builders and prospects/customers, and strengthening word-of-mouth. Once these two aspects are taken care of during marketing initiatives, brand values and brand sales increase exponentially.

Opinion builders for healthcare brands include doctors, nutritionists, beauty therapists, dieticians, physiotherapists, and other celebrities who fit in to the brand image.

For strengthening successes of current FMHG brands

FMHG brands have an important role in strengthening health of the Indian population given the low doctor to public ratio. FMHG products can penetrate market better to every nook and corner of the country. Their availability universe is beyond the pharmacies and includes non pharma retail outlets. They do contribute to wellness and beauty management of the health aspect. However, in therapeutic and sickness management, it is the play of pure ethical (prescription based) pharma brands.

Formula # 1: FMHG product promotion can straightaway take a leaf from Revital’s success story and include doctors and other opinion builders for product promotion. For eg., Colgate and Pepsodent are two interesting brands in the FMCG/FMHG sector that have a great franchise with dentists. The dental clinics in India do have posters and other patient education material from these brands and dentists orally recommend Colgate and Pepsodent. Similarly, Farex and Cerelac are FMCG/FMHG brands that are promoted to pediatricians and they are prescribed, endorsed, and orally recommended by pediatricians to patients. Johnson and Johnson has appointed a fully dedicated field force for promoting babycare range products to pediatricians. Thus, skin care brands can take a leaf from the above successful brand promotional approaches for better business results.

Formula # 2: In end consumer oriented advertising, models featured as doctors or other opinion builders along with brand fit celebrities, will surely ensure better business results as explained by the Economic Times report quoted above.
Formula # 3: Launch interesting in-pharmacy product promotions for tapping into the strength of pharmacies to connect to customers and prospects. For more on this please CLICK HERE.

The consumer is getting better value

The booming healthcare market in India, entry of foreign brands, fierce competitive practices, retail pharmacy chains … these are adding to the options and information on healthcare. In the end the consumer gets benefited through empowering information and value for money products.
This is my 49th blogpost, please do read all other blogposts by clicking on older posts when required! Thnks and God Speed!

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Traditionally, doctors provide treatment for sick people. Doctors are involved in sickness management – managing and curing illnesses and infirmities. As the pharma and medical field advanced, wellness management came under the umbrella of clinical practice. And now the stage is set for another dimension - beauty treatment in clinical settings. Thus, the modern day doctor is involved in sickness treatment and management, wellness management, and, now, beauty treatment in clinics.

Beauty treatments are called medical aesthetic treatments too. This medical service is offered by qualified doctors – mainly plastic surgeons, trichologists, dermatologists & dermacosmetologists. For eg. this clinic in London offers medical beauty treatment:

Cosmetic clinics like offer acne laser treatments, and other invasive and non-invasive cosmetic treatments. Acne and brown spots treatment, management of oily skin, acne scar treatment, fine and major skin wrinkles treatment, sagging skins - for which skin tightening is done, derma-abrasions, reduction of age spots or liver spots, and skin peelings are some of the clinical beauty treatments.

Why beauty treatments in clinical settings?

WHO defines health as physical, mental, and social well being, and not merely the absence of sickness and infirmities. Clinics are the key social organs for healthcare delivery. Doctors in clinics are the key healthcare professionals (particularly in India) for delivering physical, mental, and social well being of individuals. Beauty treatments in clinical settings, is one more approach for adding value to a person’s social well being.

Aging: the reality of today’s world

It is well known that people in society are living longer than ever before. Aging is the new challenge on the clinical horizon. Aging brings along with it associated challenges – senescence causes physical and mental dullness, weak digestion and metabolism, muscle shrinkage, skin atrophy (reduction in size), dementia, sagging skin, wrinkling, frown lines, fragile and brittle bones (osteoporosis), degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis, and….LONELINESS and other mental ailments. The collapse of the traditional joint family systems and community/caste support systems in urban and semi urban places of India has caused exacerbation of mental ailments in the aged. Thus, the scope of some major herbal therapies like brahmi, ashvagandha, kapikacchu, and gokshura that have a rejuvenative effect is large. In fact, the USP of Ayurveda is rasayana or rejuvenative treatments that are apt for the burgeoning population of the world.

Beauty treatments for the aging population of India

There is a significant increase in use of cosmetics, drugs, and treatments that help the aging population and the aged to live a better and healthier life. The growth of purchasing power in urban and semi urban areas of India, and the influence of media has lead to increased consumption of luxury goods and services too. Masstige products are seeing increased demand. There is a trend of mass customization of luxury goods for select target audiences in India. It is this feature of the Indian market that has led to higher consumption of beauty products and services in clinical and non-clinical settings. For instance a dermacosmetologist has set up shop even in Latur. In advanced countries, plastic surgeons/dermatologists are into body sculpting and skin tightening treatments for giving healthy looks to the young and old alike. Body sculpting is a fad among teenagers and young women. The rise in obesity has led to an increased demand for such products and medical services the world over.

Spotting opportunities for pharma companies

Pharmaceutical and Healthcare companies are always on the lookout for trends and market gaps or opportunities for addressing with value added products and services. The rise of beauty consciousness and purchasing power in India provides a lucrative market for medically oriented beauty products. Right now, dermatologists, cosmetologists, and plastic surgeons in urban and semi urban settings are profiting from this trend. It is only a matter of time when the gynecologist, general surgeon, consulting physician and top GPs start cashing on this clinical beauty boom, by augmenting their services. For eg., the gynecologist will start recommending suitable treatments and products for menopausal women (for fine wrinkles, sagging skin, and dull skin), acne in PCOS women; the consulting physician or endocrinologist would start recommending suitable beauty care products for patients suffering from premature aging and fine wrinkles due to diabetes or other endocrinological disorders or as a result of side effects of other medications. All in all, the beauty boom is starting to gain momentum and the market signals are seen too. For eg., we see the zooming growth of Kaya skin clinics - as per Economic Times, 10.9.2007, Investors Guide: In FY 07 Kaya business has grown by 57% to Rs. 75 crores, in April-June 07, the turnover is Rs. 21 crores, up 31% over last year. Further the report suggests Kaya skin clinic is a growth driver broke even in FY 07 with marginal profit, in FY 07 – 08 Kaya will add 15 new clinics. Kaya offers: beauty clinic, lifestyle disease management, stress management, fairness solution, and weight-loss solutions. One thumb rule for product promotion to doctors cannot be ignored – the products should be backed by robust clinical trials to assure safety and efficacy.

Many mid size European and American healthcare companies are stitching together a cogent BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) strategy for growth of their products and services mainly through local Indian companies (for the Indian market). Besides the attractiveness of the Indian market, the allure also comes from the fact that the drugs and cosmetics regulations are not high hurdle, and the various fees are not prohibitively priced like that of the US FDA. The entry costs and procedures are easier in India compared to countries like USA.

So the action is all set to hot up in the Great Indian Health, Medical and Pharma Bazaar! WELCOME TO INDIA - the customer will be the final winner!!

This is my 48th blogpost - please do read all of my other posts by clicking on older posts when required. Thnks.