Monday, December 29, 2008
On the Indian pharma marketing front, there is a new fillip to 'people power'. People are mattering more than ever in pharma marketing. This is the conclusion drawn during my recent marketing experience during the 'in-stall activity' at ASICON 2008. Like many pharma companies we too had a great time communicating and having exciting in-stall activities for visiting surgeon delegates at ASICON 2008, Ludhiana. ASICON is the annual conference organized by the Association of Surgeons of India. In the latest edition of this annual event - a melting pot for surgeons - pharma marketers got their pool of surgeons to listen to their pitch, while the surgeons got an occasion to network and update themselves with the latest surgical techniques, laparoscopic procedures and the recent trends in tumor removal during cancer management.
Power plays are changing
Power is defined as the ability to control behaviors, events and resources. There are six types of powers:
Expertise power: the knowledge and skills of people.
Reward power: the power to grant rewards.
Coercive power: the power to create negative reinforcements, or to punish ie., to make people jump through the hoops!
Referral power: the charisma, charm and aura that some people have.
Legitimate power: the power that comes with the birth or designation of a person. For eg., a scion of an industrialist will have certain legitimate powers.
Connection power: having relationships with people who matter.
In India, money power and connection power are the traditional routes to market success. A company utilizes its connections with people who matter to obtain licenses and other approvals and consequently market a product successfully. The ability to obtain licenses and other approvals has always mattered a lot. In fact this was the differentiator. It helped companies get their product to the market fast - real fast - before others did.
However, with the product patent regime in place, the rise of media power, the spread of wealth, better education, more and more pharma production facilities, and every body becoming competitive and street smart, all marketers wising up to the concept of connection power, the power plays are now distinctly changing. The connection power for obtaining licenses, approvals and the money power to produce a product are not enough to connect with the market successfully. To make a product a continuous market success, connection power and money power alone are not enough. People power is gaining traction.
Everybody is game for pharma marketing
It appears that everyone now believes pharma marketing is not a rocket science! The MR has to connect with the target audience, deliver regular visits and communication, provide samples, literatures, communication inputs and gifts, negotiate sponsorships, and finally obtain prescription harvests. Every pharma company is aggressive and game for these SOPs (standard operating procedures). For eg., during the in-stall activities at ASICON, all pharma marketers were aggressively using tactics to get the maximum visits from delegates. If you start a lucky dip, the next day, the stall opposite to yours starts the same - to become competitive. Every one provides gifts, freebies and other services to create a better stall. Certainly this is happening on the field during in-clinic activity too. So the question is, how do you get an edge over the competitor pharma marketer? This is where people power gets traction.
People power is communication power
In pharma marketing, communication power is crucial. The process of sending messages successfully is crucial to marketing success. Communication between individuals depends on verbalization - to an extent of 7%, vocalization - to an extent of 38% and body language (particularly facial expressions) - to an extent of 55%. The ability to communicate effectively requires training and confidence. Both these come from knowledge and practice. In fact, this communication power made the difference during in-stall activities, and surely this is making the difference during in-clinic activities too. People communication power is becoming all the more important as most companies (MNC and Indian) are becoming equally aggressive in terms of visits to doctors, sampling, gifting and sponsorships. MNCs do this in style - they provide medical grants or scientific grants to influence prescribing behavior. Indian companies are a little more brazen, they call it deals and sponsorships. The end objective is the same. However, what makes the difference is the person from the company, his communication and representation. What makes the difference is the communication inputs of the company - at the corporate level and field level. The communication print and nonprint inputs and people power are the keys to win the contemporary pharma marketing battles. IT REMINDS ONE OF THE AGE OLD SAYING - PEOPLE DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE!
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Sunday, December 14, 2008
The answer is: PROBLEM SOLVING - the process of problem solving REQUIRES INFORMATION SEARCH.
The other name of life is problem solving. We are constantly solving problems and taking decisions accordingly. For eg., putting up a blogpost that is interesting is a problem and this requires a series of decisions and activities. However, the start of the problem solving process is INFORMATION SEARCH.
To solve problems, we search for information first within our memories. We try to make decisions to solve problems based on the wisdom of our past experiences or the stored up knowledge in our brain. At another level we tend to confer with trusted individuals and seek information to help solve problems. In fact, in the cyber dimension, Google has redefined and created a new paradigm in the problem solving process. We only have to type in the words associated with the problem and we can try and create a menu of actionable approaches to solve the problem.
SO WHAT ABOUT PHARMA/HEALTHCARE MARKETING AND THE PROBLEM SOLVING PROCESS?
Marketing communication and other activities address people - in fact, to be specific, marketing activities address the problem solving process of people. Marketing people present value to the prospects and customers - the net result is that the value preposition solves the problem(s) of the target audience.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s the medical representative had a hallowed status in the field. During those times, the MR was the only source of valuable information that could add value to the clinical practice of a physician. Hence, there was a great value for a MR during those times. Besides there were very few MRs and this created additional value for the profession. Later on as the number of MRs increased and the print medium picked up (offering several print products with clinical information), the MR's role altered to becoming a relationship management expert (offering intangible and tangible inputs to the doctors). With the increasing internet penetration and the consequent collapse of the information float (this means people will have access to real-time information), the MR's role will alter considerably in coming days. Consequently, mobile based and internet based marketing communication activities will see increased focus so as to engage members of the target audience. The major role of the MR will be to create a human face to the company operations in the market and IMPORTANTLY HELP BUILD TRUST in the company products and processess.
I recollect my days of independent field working in Bangalore some time in the late 1990s. I read about a report in the Times of India that nifedipine on long-term use increases mortality. We had an antihypertensive product - atenolol and indapamide combination. I met a leading doctor, Dr. K G Das in Ulsoor. This gentleman is an illustrious and very knowledge oriented doctor. I detailed our antihypertensive product, and as part of the post-detailing discussions, I placed the newspaper report, in front of him, and said:"Sir, many of your patients may have read this report today morning, so naturally, they will be confused, and may confront you for answers." The doctor read this newspaper report and then had discussions with me for about 45 minutes about clinical trials, and many other matters. Needless to add, my prescriptions for our antihypertensive combination saw a rise.
The moral of the above story is that when marketers present information in a timely fashion, it helps the marketer achieve better success significantly.
Marketers need to understand the problem solving process of doctors and chemists. By understanding the problem solving process, and offering value added solutions, marketers can gain better prescription mileage.
Gifts, relationship management and other promotional tools are vital to influence prescribing behaviour and the chemist OTC behaviour, however, it is critical to participate successfully in the problem solving process of the target audience to attain key marketing success.
Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down to read about a book in which, there is a chapter penned by me. Also, please scroll down and click on OLDER POSTS, to read all other blogposts. Thanks.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
One such book is INDIAN PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY: Strategies and Challenges in Formulations Marketing. And my article published earlier in CHRONICLE PHARMABIZ, has been compiled in to this book. The article entitled Prescriber Fatigue and Product Life Cycle Management is in Section 2 - it is Chapter 11, and on page no. 127.
My thanks are due to ICFAI, the editors - Mr. B V S Prasad and Mr. K Gowri Shankar who have published the article in the book. And I will be failing in my duty if I do not express my heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Anand Mohan Dass. He was not only important in the process of the above book production, he has also kindly couriered a complimentary copy of the book to me. I once again thank Mr. M Anand, Senior Research Associate, Icfai Research Center and Mr. Gowri Shankar. I also thank the Chronicle Pharmabiz team, in the first place, for having published the article some time back.
I request people interested in the Indian Pharmaceutical Industry to pick up this book as it is a great resource. It has 21 articles in all. The articles are in three sections: Section 1 is on Pharma Industry Overview, and the second section is on Marketing Strategies and Challenges: Formulations. The third section is on Company articles.
The ISBN is 978-81-314-1627-3
The book publishers are: The Icfai University Press, 52, Nagarjuna Hills, Punjakatta, Hyderabad, India, Pin code: 500082
GO AHEAD, DO KINDLY EXPLORE THE ABOVE BOOK.
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Saturday, December 6, 2008
INDIA IS THE LARGEST PRODUCER OF MILK IN THE WORLD. THE PACKAGED MILK BUSINESS IS HAVING AN ANNUAL TURNOVER OF AROUND Rs. 10000 CRORES! WE PRODUCE OVER 100 MILLION TONNES OF MILK, REPRESENTING AROUND 15% OF THE WORLD'S PRODUCTION. CAN THE PHARMA AND HEALTHCARE MARKETERS OF INDIA CASH IN ON THIS 'MILK OPPORTUNITY'?
Milk has a legendary status in
Milk as a vehicle provides exciting opportunities for strengthening nutrition, health, and healing.
Value added products derived from milk with special interest in pharma and health supplement business include:
Whey protein: is the best source of protein. In India, protein malnourishment is quite common. Whey protein has the highest biological value of any known protein. The biological value of a protein food, is the measure of how much protein gets incorporated in to the body. Higher the BV more the proteins from the food gets incorporated in to body's protein. Whey protein has a BV (biological value) of 106 to 150, egg whites have lesser BV of 100 BV - Whey protein BV is the highest for any protein food - no wonder in Indian traditions, the cow has a hallowed status... you see... Whey protein is derived from cow's milk, in fact, it is a by product of cheese manufactured from cow's milk. The globular proteins from whey protein are easily assimilated in the body particularly in the muscles. Hence, body builders too prefer whey protein based supplements.
Milk calcium (milk mineral complex): is a source of calcium derived from milk. In fact, it is more properly called milk mineral complex. This is a concentrate of minerals present in milk. Calcium is in the highest proportion. Milk calcium is also a whey by-product. Patient acceptance of milk calcium is obviously high - due to a positive image, hence, there are labelling advantages. Along with calcium, milk calcium offers magnesium, and the calcium to phosphorous ratio too is beneficial. Milk calcium has a mineral composition similar to bones CLICK HERE.
Probiotic/prebiotic enhanced milk-derived products: Yogurt is a billion dollar business worldwide, and it is promoted as a healthy probiotic based drink. Yakult is the prime mover in this business. Yogurt is not a product of rocket science. It is a custard like food made from curdled milk. Yakult is trying to make its inroads in to the Indian market. And this in a country which is not a stranger to milk and milk based products. Yakult yogurt is a value added product derived from milk, and such a product is definitely possible for Indian manufacturers to manufacture. Yakult (or can we call it mishti dahi!?) is a Japanese doctor's invention. It uses Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. The reason that Yakult makes waves is the fact that it addresses the large gastrointestinal market. In fact, in India, 1/3rd of the Pharma market is gastrointestinal. Electrolyte energy drinks and other products too address the large gastrointestinal market (firstname.lastname@example.org). Similar to probiotic based milk products, prebiotic (FOS) based milk products are also doing good business globally. This clinical trial established that prebiotic and probiotic milks have good impact on pediatric health. (In this clinical trial there is also a lucid explanation on what probiotics and prebiotics are). There is good scope for such products in India too.
Colustrum: is the first secretion from female mammals immediately after birth of baby, for the first 2 to 4 days. It is a rich source of nutrients, antibodies, immunoglobulins, and growth factors. Bovine colustrum derived from cattle - it can be consumed by humans, and improves immunity, growth, and overall health. Merck in India is a lead player in the colustrum market.
Milk based vaccination: is an interesting concept being worked on by certain researchers. For eg., Immunization against malaria through milk, has been experimented upon CLICK HERE. Probably there will be biotech milks in the future with distinct therapeutic benefits like vaccination. Some marketers, call colustrum as nature's vaccination approach.
Milk based pharmaceuticals/nutraceuticals: imagine a Calcium Sandoz brand line extension in liquid milk form (offering vitamin D and calcium as milk mineral complex 50 to 100% RDA) - there you have a very big market that can ride on the Rs. 10000 crore milk market! Or ‘Shelcal milk’ from Elder Pharmaceuticals. If nanotech is used it is possible to mask taste and provide antibiotic-based milk preparations for specific uses in disease conditions. Thus, milk based pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals are possible in the future. IS IT POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE THE FOLLOWING IN THE FUTURE?
Fortified milk products: The world-over fortification is a mass approach to improve nutritional status of target populations. For eg., iodized salt is mass consumed in India, to improve thyroid health. Milk presents a great opportunity for vitamin and mineral fortification to provide healthy beverages to target populations.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE THE FOLLOWING IN THE FUTURE?
World’s largest producer of whey protein:
World's largest producer of colustrum: India
Yes it is possible...
Yes it is possible...
HOW TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN?
This is possible through COLLECTIVE INNOVATION AND GENERIC MARKETING. THE SECOND FACTOR IS THE MOST CRITICAL FACTOR. BAD MARKETING CAN BURY MANY A GOOD PRODUCT. PRODUCT INNOVATION SHOULD BE BACKED BY MARKETING OR INNOVATIVE PRODUCTS WILL FACE MARKET FAILURE. (Generic marketing means nonbrand marketing, see below.)
The best marketing approaches can be worked out through studying established marketing models for other products. For instance look at this approach of the olive producers of European Union. The stakeholders as you will observe by clicking on the hyperlink, have formed an International Olive Council in Madrid, this non profit body has the sole objective of launching promo campaigns in high potential markets like India, and increase the consumption of olive oil. These are generic promotional activities. By this marketing activity, all stakeholders in the olive oil business, stand to gain. And more wealth will be created for the olive oil stakeholders. This is the way of business. And we can take a leaf from this olive oil story to create an organization to popularize Indian milk and particularly milk derived products of interest to pharma and healthcare marketers.
What will happen if we do not take the lead in creating value added products through milk, in India? The answer is somebody else will do it and take advantage of the home market in
Business is like a war – healthcare or other business operations are always run for gaining markets and profits. Earlier military wars used to be fought for gaining geographical territories (geographical expansion), and filling up the treasury of the country. Today, the fashion of war is different – it is called business. Products are offered and markets conquered with the intent of filling the corporate war chests with more and more cash. EITHER PLAY THE BUSINESS BY ITS RULES (UNWRITTEN OR WRITTEN) OR GET PLAYED OUT! SO WILL PHARMA AND HEALTHCARE MARKETERS BANK ON THE INDIAN MILK MARKET? LET US WAIT AND WATCH!!
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