Sunday, December 5, 2010

Empowerment marketing

Above image from here.

One of the key factors for organizational successes is EMPOWERMENT. Essentially, this is a process where individuals or a community are invested with resources, decision making powers and a sense of authority. Obviously, this means making people feel responsible. Making people feel responsible for a deed or an area of operation, itself makes a difference to the person who is gaining the powers. Along with responsibility - accountability, sense of ownership and the feeling that he/she is answerable, tags along. Empowerment is a process that needs to administered with tact and training. Empowerment is surely responsible for many successes in organizations.

An interesting marketing concept is that of Tetra Pak. This is a Swedish MNC. Tetra Pak is a pioneer food processing and packaging company, they have pioneered paper or cardboard based aseptic technology packaging material too. Their approach to marketing is interesting.

Tetra Pak joins hands with companies, helps innovate and works with them to produce beverages and food products that use Tetra Pak based processing and packaging materials. More the sale of those products, more is the sale of the Tetra Pak based packaging. This way there is a symbiotic relationship between the product marketer and the packaging supplier (ie., Tetra Pak).

Tetra Pak does not manufacture or market the end products themselves at any time. They are solely bothered with sales and solutions based on their packaging materials. The result is that the packaging material helps the product manufacturer market better and make more money.

Verily, Tetra Pak is EMPOWERING the product manufacturer through his packaging systems. Tetra Pak empowers the product manufacturer with technology, expertise in processing and packaging, marketing support, new ideas, fresh knowledge, insights ... . This process of making the purchasers, of its food processing equipment and packaging materials, empowered has in turn made Tetra Pak very rich and successful too.

This is a fresh and successful facet of marketing that can be rightly called as EMPOWERMENT MARKETING.

In a similar vein, Mc Donald's and the franchisee based marketing business model owes its success to the process of empowerment embedded in marketing design. There are scores of entrepreneurs who have become multimillionaires by becoming franchisees of McDonald's.

Empowerment marketing actually provides resources and a platform for companies to tap the potential of individuals.

Imagine Mc Donald's without its franchisee or joint venture based marketing model. Certainly one can conclude that it would not have grown to its present stature if it were not for its business model based on systems, monitoring and consequent empowerment.

Empowerment is not blindly offering resources, and authority to the recipients. Empowerment is a scientific process of offering training, creating monitoring systems, constantly validating those systems, measuring, taking stock of the new challenges from the environment, and so on. Empowerment is a joint responsibility of the person(s) empowering and those getting empowered. It is a story of constant communication between the two parties, evolving win-win agreements and making the joint working 'work'.

Empowerment is about synergism: ie., 1 + 1 > 2.

Marketing is a process of empowerment: particularly, during 1950s, pharma marketers were a valuable lot to the doctors. Pharma marketers during those days (where print media was not very penetrative and electronic media were absent), brought important clinically relevant information, tools and other materials to doctors. In turn, due to the benefits, doctors would provide sales through their prescriptions. Since, the pharma marketing information and tools were offered only to doctors for prescription, it was called ethical marketing.

Today, the process of empowerment is not just through Medical Representatives. Brand touch points are available through various other media. And through all contacts prospects and customers are actually trying to get empowered through the value being delivered. Hence, marketing is a core process of empowerment.

It is a fact, I have ideated the concept of empowerment marketing and the term EMPOWERMENT MARKETING.

HOWEVER, THE WORLD OF INTERNET SHOWS THIS CONCEPT HAS BEEN THOUGHT OF BY OTHERS. Empowerment marketing is a term used by this blogger in a slightly different way.


Empowerment is a process that helps an individual or set of individuals go about with a SENSE OF PURPOSE. There is a sense of autonomy experienced by the empowered individual(s). This autonomy and sense of purpose when used in marketing helps the process of marketing succeed.

Bottomline: In essence, marketing should deliver value that empowers the target audience. This helps the marketing process succeed!

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Marketing is win-win empowerment


We live in a society with a distinct trend towards TRANSPARENCY. It is a media and information driven society. Technologies like latest mobile phones are breaking the information barrier. One can get information from the internet, media and acquaintances in a jiffy. Transparency is a result of this media explosion. Transparency is leading to an age of the EMPOWERED SOCIETY.

Concept of empowerment

Power is the ability to influence and control resources, events and behaviours. Power comes from one's competencies (ie., knowledge and skill sets) and position. When a person gains a particular position in a workplace, club, NGO, or Govt. system, the role comes with a package of associated powers. Thus, the position of the person creates an ability to influence and control resources, events and behaviours.

Empowerment is the process of investing a community or individual or set of individuals with power. This can come through mechanisms that strengthen or create new competencies or granting certain positions, when a person gains the position, he gains power. New Media (internet, mobile, social communities on the web, etc) and flow of information has created a gigantic infrastructure for empowerment in society.

This has changed social life and the game for marketers.

Marketing: which way ahead?

Marketing is a value delivery process, it stimulates consumption of goods, strengthens brand equity, and facilitates exchange processes (goods or services are exchanged for monies). When a person does not have access for information search (and thus, getting empowered in the buying decision process), the marketer has an obvious upper hand. The marketer can educate customers and influence the buying process more easily.

The situation of customers, patients and prescribers in the contemporary world is different. There is an enhanced network available for information flow. 25 years back, a GP had to book a trunk call to a city based consultant to get advice on treating tricky OPD medical cases. Today, when in doubt, the GP can give a call on the mobile and if patient is lucky, ie., if the specialist is free, the doctors will discuss the case on real time basis and institute appropriate therapy to improve the lot of the patient. In this tele-conversation, brand names get endorsed or recommended. Marketers can ill afford to ignore such mobile based or internet enabled conversations. Empowerment is not only through the pharma marketing process, there are other connecting media with prospects and customers (target doctors and doctors).

Marketing as an empowering process

In a recent conversation with an ad film maker, he asked me a basic question: Why do doctors meet MRs?

The obvious reasons are as follows:

a) MR gives positive strokes, appreciates, gives a 'face to the medicine brand', builds confidence through conversations and detailing on the brand; creates emotional bonding with promoted brand/company
b) MR positions himself (unconsciously or consciously) as a person who is there in the clinic to help the doctor provide a better service to the patient
c) MR provides freebies (samples, small compliments that help in clinical practice, books, reading material, compliment gifts that are a great help at home, sponsorships to conferences, vacation trips and so on)
d) Talking to MRs helps the doctor jog his memory. MRs act as sparks who rekindle memories of medical knowledge, this is a great help to doctors

The above list may not be exhaustive but covers most of the points.

In essence, we notice that marketing activities conducted by pharma companies through MRs or through other media are basically empowering.

The pharmaceutical company's marketing activities, enhance the power of a doctor. By promoting products, giving literatures, and knowledge material, there is a contribution to the doctor's expertise power. Freebies enhance the material power and resources of a doctor. In essence, empowerment is the final objective of pharma marketers (or other marketers).

When a customer shells out monies to purchase a product or service, on the emotional side it is for satisfaction, and on the other side, the act of purchasing, enhances power of a customer or empowers the customer.

Conclusion: The tact for marketing success is win-win empowerment!

The marketer should empower his customer through marketing or value delivery activities, and the customer should feel empowered (not weakened or exploited). This is a great lesson of marketing. When the marketing rhythm is lost, when the customer does not feel empowered, but gets a weakening feeling of exploitation, customer is displeased.

When the marketer feels that the customer has exploited the marketer and bargained too much, then again the marketing game is not win-win and there is a sense of loss in the mind of the pharma marketer.

The point is pharma marketing game is about empowerment. Both marketers and prescribers or chemist retailers are in the game of becoming powerful in each transaction. When there is win-win empowerment, there is a successful transaction.

When a MR has to provide extra sample adjustment, site facility (or extra days to retire payment) to stockist or institutional purchaser, the marketing game is a distress game, not a win-win empowerment game. When a MR feels a sense of loss, he will surely avoid gaining similar experience in the future.

This process of win-win empowerment is not just at the stockist or distributor level, it is at the doctor level too. When a MR simply does not provide any material inputs, only details and asks for prescriptions for a product, the process can go on only for some time. After sometime, the doctor will surely feel that the MR transaction is not empowering him (the doctor). That is when the doctor will lose interest in the pharma marketer. Thus, maintaining win-win empowerment relationship is the key to successful marketing.

Empowering is a process that should make both parties in the transaction feel empowered (get the feeling that they have strengthened).

Training, an empowering process

In this vein, training too is an empowering process. When training is viewed by trainees, as a process by which they are gaining strength, confidence, and power, the training modules and program will gain appreciation.

On the other hand, if trainers work to expose the weakness and ignorance of trainees, create an atmosphere where trainee feels he is facing weakening situations, the training will surely fall flat and fail to achieve its objectives.

Marketing tools are meant to empower, not distract or cause burden

Pharma marketers work hard to provide tools for selling, marketing and brand building activities. Visual aids, CDs, literatures, reminder cards, gifts, samples in special sample cache (or catch) covers and various other product promotional materials are given for the "magic bag" of the MR. If the MR feels that these inputs are mere distractions or burdensome materials, the marketing tools will fail to deliver their objective. Ideally, marketing tools should provide a sense of purposeful direction to the user, and help the MR in his in-clinic, in-stall, in-chemist and in-stockist activities.

If the front-line sales personnel or doctors themselves do not get any value from the marketing tools, they become burdensome marketing inputs. The central idea is that the value delivery marketing tools or inputs should in the final analysis create a feeling of empowerment in MRs, the front-line sales personnel, and customers (doctors, chemists, patients and stockists or distributors).

Marketing is surely becoming a process of empowerment, a process of establishing win-win empowerment through transactions. It is not just about value delivery, or facilitating exchange processes. Marketing should empower, customers and marketers alike, with mutuality.

Why are Americans very successful marketers?

If we look at contemporary or modern business history, we see Americans as the most successful marketers. They really know how to sell! Americans are constantly inventive and creating interesting products and services to sell more and market more. But why are Americans successful?

As such, with every product or service that these Americans sell, they are not there to merely satisfy the customers. In fact, their information based labeling and packaging techniques, their product communication and advertisements are all meant to make the prospect or customer feel empowered through the product/service (the customer should feel that he or she is gaining something that is going to make a powerful difference in his life and will empower him).

This is what the master marketer PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, did when he came to India. He said Jai Hind in the Indian parliament. President Obama talked all right things: Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda ... he said the right things at Hotel Taj Mahal, Mumbai ... Obama talked about India as a super global power ... basically he, as a master marketer, made Indians feel very special ... very powerful. Obama talked about India becoming a part of UN Security Council. What a master marketing stroke!! Obama did all this to create jobs in America, to help American marketers get better access to the Indian market ... Obama did all this as a patriotic American, a loyal marketer of Americanism. Truly, the India visit of Obama was a testimony to the fact that marketing is a win-win empowerment process.


Hope this blogpost has created a satisfied feeling of empowerment in you, for more food-for-thought nuggets, kindly scroll down, read all other blogposts, click on older posts as and when required, feel free to empower your acquaintances by recommending my blog. Thnks in advance.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Growth addiction

Above graph from here.

Growth will continue to be a desirable and indeed a necessary business objective.
- Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker, described as the Aristotle of management science, has elucidated a lot on growth. He has reiterated that able and competent management results in growth. Hence, the innate emphasis in all pharma (and nonpharma) companies on growth.

Driven by competence, the Indian pharma industry is growing!

As per MAT June 2010 IMS figures, the pharma industry is showing 20% growth (MAT value of Rs. 43823 crores). Established brands are registering good growth. Vaccine market is zooming. Antidiabetic drug market is the leading growth market segment. The June 2007 MAT value was Rs. 28841 crores and in June 2010 the MAT value of the pharmaceutical (retail) market is Rs. 43823 crores!

Managing growth is a challenge to businesses

Growth is a great motivator for employees and owners! A growing business offers hope of a better and improved future. Stagnation is killing and creates cesspools. Hence, companies and people do (or should) plan for growth and work for growth.

Growth in pharma does not come only by covering more doctors, increasing doctor call frequency, pumping in more samples, gifts and sponsorships ... there are other points that are a necessity in managing growth:

a) Process development
b) Knowledge management
c) People practices

To understand how indisciplined growth can lead to disastrous results to society, Govt., owners, employees, and to the business as a whole ... look at SATYAM COMPUTERS! OR look at the iron ore mining industry of Bellary district (Karnataka). In both these cases, growth lacked a value framework for the organization and industry, respectively. Growth has come with a whole load of problems. There was also no value actualization at Satyam or in the mining industry.

This is why Infosys emphasizes POWERED BY INTELLECT, DRIVEN BY VALUES. At Wipro too, the six values are given a lot of emphasis. MindTree too has a value framework and emotional infrastructure in place to carry on growth.

Growth without a value framework, company culture, people practices, process development and KM (knowledge management) will lead to corruption or breakdown and other problems. Very often growth is associated only with money management, improved marketing penetration and throughput, inventory management, and physical infrastructure (like production facilities, technology etc). However, such a growth has its susceptibilities or weaknesses and can lead to several problems. Managing growth means a lot more.

Knowledge management (KM) refers to strategies and practices of organizations to access, create, identify, document and share insights and experiences. It is a very sophisticated, subtle and powerful science. The ability of KM to produce change and match employee thinking to the market thinking is very potent.

The time is ripe now in Indian pharma industry to take a leaf out from Indian IT industry to learn about managing growth comprehensively, even as IT, is today, celebrating Thnks for reading this blogpost, and we warmly WELCOME PRESIDENT OBAMA AND FAMILY TO INDIA, a bit in advance!! Please scroll down and read all other posts, click on older posts, do kindly recommend this blog to your acquaintances.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Crisis management: USP of Indians

SPECTACULAR! This year's Commonwealth Games, Delhi 2010 were truly spectacular and very satisfying to athletes and viewers. This year's games' were mired in controversy. One wondered whether they would take off, at all!! Anyway, all's well that ends well!!

So what is the take home message from the 19th Commonwealth Games, New Delhi, 2010? The message is that we INDIANS ARE PAST MASTERS AND (PRESENT AND FUTURE) MASTERS OF crisis management!!

When things look hopeless, you will find that Indians have an inborn quality of doing necessary jugaad or street smart innovativeness and salvage the situation. Jugaad includes frugal engineering but not necessarily strictly so. When Citibank was in a deep mess and required a messiah to salvage the situation, it was Vikram Pandit who took the bull by the horns!

India is in a permanent state of chaos. First time visitors to India are stunned by the dust, heat and general muddle. In fact, they wonder how India ticks, being in a permanent state of chaos!!?! For us, Indians, management of challenging chaotic situations, is, of course, all in a day's work!! We Indians are deeply tolerant, hence, we can take in all the chaos very equanimously!

Incredible India! Incredible health situation of India

We call this chaotic situation as unity in diversity! This diverse and chaotic environment gives us a special quality to do jugaad and try and come out of the tight situation.

Consider the mess that the disease situation of India is:

a) India has the largest TB cases in the world (23% of world's TB patients)
b) 86% of the world's diphtheria patients are in India
c) 54% of the world's leprosy patients
are here in India
d) 55% of the world's malaria patients are in India

India is the well known 'capital of diabetes of the world'!

Polio (42% of world's patients are in India), tetanus and pertusis are also prevalent significantly in India. This is as per World Health Statistics 2010 released by WHO.

But this deplorable health situation seems almost implausible after seeing the fantastic opening and closing ceremonies of Commonwealth Games, 2010 at New Delhi! But the above health situation is true and represents a great continuing opportunity for pharma marketers to try and improve the health situation.

Managing crises is a second nature for us. We are sure we will be kaamyaab in bringing a turnaround in the health situation of India. For that firstly, we have to agree that there is a crisis. That is difficult for us Indians!! However, until we agree there is a crisis we will not act! Once we know that a crisis is on us, we will put the act together, that is how we Indians behave! Otherwise ... chalta hai!!

Today the fact is that India is booming. Economic liberalization has created an economic resurgence. Yet, it was not a proactive liberalization policy that was brought in! We were shamed, way back in 1991, when IMF (Indian Monetary Fund) bailed out a bankrupt India. This forced the Govt. of India to liberalize and galvanize the Indian economy. This caused growth of Indian economy.

We should hit a crisis - only then do we wake up! That is why we Indians are great at crisis management - the evidence is the Commonwealth Games, 2010!!

Crisis means an unpredictable event has occurred and it needs to be managed. Today, we are sitting on a major silent health crisis. Private entities and Govt. bodies need to take on the challenge facing India before it becomes recognized as a crisis issue. It is a silent crisis today, but when international organizations start coming in to India, in a major way to save the health situation of India, we will only be collaborators with these entities. Global healthcare NGOs are seeing a big opportunity in India. Will we Indians require international attention and guidance to improve our healthcare situation or can we do it ourselves?

Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down and read all other blogposts, click on older posts as and when required. Please feel free to recommend this blog to your friends.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Communication mix in pharma marketing

Above image from here.

One interesting observation of people who take a fresh view of pharma marketing or when a new person looks in to pharma marketing, he observes that the communication mix is heavily tipped in favor of PERSONAL SELLING.

The next important element of the communication mix, particularly in India is SALES PROMOTION (providing cash discounts or bonus offers), to retailers and stockists (not to patients). Nevertheless, there are some interesting new parts of communication that are gaining traction like mobile based messaging, and POP (point-of-purchase) promotional activities. Pharma companies are definitely seeing the importance of various other communication systems hitherto not emphasized in pharma marketing.

The traditional view of pharmaceutical communication is providing an emphasis on the following elements:

1) Personal selling: this element of the communication mix gets the maximum focus in pharma marketing, MRs are appointed who are trained to provide the personal selling function.

2) Sales promotion: mind you, the focus of sales promotional offers unlike FMCG marketing is solely the retailer (and to some extent the stockist ie., wholeseller), almost never the patient!!

3) Advertising: is a useful input of the communication mix in pharmaceutical marketing. Pharmed established its new concept products in the 1990s ie., glucosamine based products solely through slick print advertisements in medical journals. Advts. continue to be important for providing information and provoking prescription flow.

4) Direct marketing: was employed by Cipla (it is being done to some extent by them even now), when they had some problems in personal selling function. In fact, the mailers and inputs provided through direct marketing was so impressive, doctors would wait for the material to arrive through mail or courier.

IF PERSONAL SELLING IS A PROBLEM DUE TO TERRITORY DISTURBANCE OR LACK OF MRs OR LACK OF WORKING BY MRs OR UNIONISM OR LACK OF QUALITY COMMUNICATION BY MRs, then direct marketing is an important approach to supplement or substitute personal selling and keep the marketing game on! Some marketing is always better than bad or no marketing!!

Direct marketing is an interesting approach. Firstly, it is not a foot-in-the-door type of approach. It respects the target person's privacy. It gives a freedom to the doctor to go through the mailed material at his leisure.

Often management personnel think that mailers received by doctors go to the waste paper basket directly without them being opened. This is not wholly true. It depends on the corporate image of the sender. For instance, when the then Glaxo and Cipla would send mailers doctors would value them - content in the mailer makes the difference.

When the content is plainly uninteresting then it is obvious doctors will loath mailers. Direct marketing mailers are not a failure approach, but the content being inferior makes the mailer approach a failure.

To put the above point in right perspective, imagine a slothful and unimpressive MR, will he be encouraged by the doctor? Just because the quality of the MR is poor, can we conclude that personal selling function based on MR is not useful in product promotion?

On the product promotional horizon, the personal selling function is getting challenging, MRs are not committed as before, quality MRs are difficult to get, the no. of MRs is getting a tad too crowded in the market ... so which way out?

Already, people are putting their money on sales promotion. But that is not going to be enough. Still more options of the product promotional mix need to be used to ensure best returns for the marketing buck. These options include targeted direct marketing, POP promotion, advertising, trade stall promotion ...

The Indian healthcare market

The Indian healthcare market including pharmaceutical market is looking up. 18% growth is assured. There is a lot of scope for market penetration. The need for pharma products and healthcare services is growing day by day. The Indian pharma retail market of about Rs. 45000 crores is growing at 18%! The media labels it 'steroid growth'. This pot of honey is attracting many entrepreneurs.

The usual approach to the pharma communication mix will out date the marketing game of pharma companies. With the personal selling function getting hotter in the Indian pharma market, it is inevitable that all other elements of product promotional mix will gain in importance.

Optimizing the marketing funds

If you have Rs. 10/- how will you distribute it among the elements of the pharma communication mix? This will be the real challenge ahead in pharma marketing. Marketing money allotments will only increase with competition become fiercer. How to optimize, how to expand communication activities? How to transform pharma marketing communication activity? There are a lot of interesting challenges ahead! Will making visual aids, literatures, allotting samples, gifts (big and small), providing schemes or bonus offers to retailers (of which much is gobbled by wholesellers, ie., the retail offers may not percolate down completely), alone suffice? Grappling with these questions is essential to pharma companies to survive and grow profitably in the future market!

Thnks for reading the blogpost on communication mix and how it may evolve in the future in Indian pharma market! Please scroll down to read all other blogposts (click on older posts as and when required), do recommend this blog to your friends.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mind, a craving organ

Above image from here.

The intangible is often taken for granted! I recollect a conversation with a leading paediatrician of Bangalore sometime back. In addition to paediatric practice, he offered customised books or journals for pharmaceutical companies, who then would provide the same to doctors, as a service. Once when we were involved in a transaction, I requested him to provide the articles in CD form, the printing would then be taken care of by the pharma company. However, he insisted on providing the final printed journal. The reason was simple, he said:"Sunil, in India, the intangible intellectual property does not have value!! Business people give maximum value only to tangible things! So intangible contributions are most often discounted or taken for granted. So it is better I supply the final book product"!! How right!! The intangible is particularly in the Indian context almost always discounted or taken for granted ... just like the mind - an intangible organ.

Mind, a craving organ

The mind is defined as originating from the brain. The most important attribute of this intangible organ is that it is a craving organ. There are several cravings in this organ that direct the human behaviour. These types of cravings include: recognition, wealth seeking, working for higher stature in life, security, rich foods, nutritious foods, entertainment, frequent sex, alcohol consumption or thrill seeking.

Recently, I came across a very interesting medical event. A gentleman was afflicted with uncontrolled diabetes. Finally, he had gangrene of the foot. The doctor seeing the condition advised immediate amputation, if this was not done, the prognosis was bad - the patient would die in a month's time. The patient haughtily refused surgical treatment, went in for Ayurveda and other alternative treatments, that provided mixed results. Unfortunately, he passed away yesterday.

On deeper analysis, it is evident his mind directed him not to seek surgical treatment, for whatever reasons. He had this craving to avoid surgical treatment and seek alternative nonsurgical treatment. This craving did him in. That is the power of cravings!!

So the bottom line is that cravings (in the mind) direct human behaviour and they create different experiences for him/her.

Making a choice

Cravings are inevitable attributes of the mind. Some mind researchers classify only the higher mental functions like reasoning and memory as attributes of the mind. Nevertheless, cravings are a part and parcel of mind.

With one's mind we can exercise our imagination and create a smörgåsbord of cravings, these can range from plain to exotic. The ability to choose a particular craving requires the function of will, intelligence and knowledge.


Marketers depend on these cravings!

If the patient does not have a craving to get better, if the doctor does not have a craving to heal his patients, where will we pharma marketers go?!

Delivering competitive value that satisfies the cravings is very important

Take for example, the success of electrolyte energy drinks in Tetra Pak concept, in India. The craving in the patient was that paediatric and other patients need to get in electrolytes, safe water, energy, and the patient should enjoy the experience. Tetra Pak technology provided aseptic technology that made the product ultra safe. The fruit juice base enhanced palatability and ensured patient delight. When the patient was delighted so was the doctor!! This superior value was the best competitive offering in the market - for offering fluids to weak and dehydated patients. Hence, the above product concept has succeeded.

Making superior value offerings is always fraught with risks. Innovations to enhance value can be risky prepositions. If they click, there is a bonanza for the pharma marketer. If it bombs, there is a big loss.

Recently, Crocin suspension innovated. They have for the first time launched a child resistant cap for the bottle. But those who have used it will know, what a pathetic innovation it is. If a patient buys it, he will never buy Crocin suspension again! Opening the cap is not easy, and it gets locked so firmly that it is not possible to reopen the bottle!

Hence, innovation to improve value offerings is always risky that can hurt if it backfires in the market!

The electronic industry is always in a race to offer better and improved value offerings. After the LCD TV, came the HDTV and now the rage is 3 D TV! Value offering is the sum of all brand experiences of a customer. If the value offering is superior to competitor brands, then the customer will be satisfied or delighted.

In pharma marketing, delighting the doctor is the key, rather than delighting the patient!

Traditionally, pharma marketing is always about making service offerings to doctors who prescribe the brand. The content of the value offering to doctors includes regular calls by MRs and field personnel, positive strokes and praises by field personnel, clinical reports, trial summaries, samples to try on the patient (because seeing is believing), and freebies (small gifts, large gifts, and sponsorships) to delight the doctor. More delighted the doctor, more the prescription flow in favor of the brand, and more the sales of the pharma brand.

The other entity is the pharmacist or chemist, who needs to be plied with retail offers to delight him. Or the chances of brand substitution is greater. Hence, the chemist should also be kept happy.

With patient empowerment improving slowly, there are small changes where patient may demand for a particular brand. However, patient consciousness (patient is the one who actually pays for the pharma product) on pharma products is still very low. Product performance should delight the patient to ensure doctor is confident on the pharma product.

Competitive value offerings ensure that cravings in the market, change constantly. Accordingly, pharma marketers should reinvent value offerings to ensure customers are delighted in an ever dynamic market place. There was a time where doctors had very low cravings from pharma marketers. They only wanted regular calls and some samples and a small gift every now and then. Today, competitive value offerings from pharma marketers has created a lot of new cravings in doctor customers. These need to be understood and accordingly serviced!

Cravings are a part of life since the mind is life! A craving-free mind is a philosophical target reached by very few. Marketers, markets and products/services are always in demand, because cravings are ever growing and changing. Cravings make markets!

Hope this blogpost has satisfied your present craving for a nice read! Feel free to talk about my blog with your acquaintances and scroll down (click on older posts, as and when required) to read all other posts.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Transformational leadership

Above image from here. Winston Churchill was an inspiring leader. He galvanized people BY showing a vision. Churchill transformed attitudes of people, creating a following.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference - Winston Churchill

There are said to be two types of leaderships:

a) transactional leadership
b) transformational leadership

Transactional leaders are the typical good managers, who with integrity ensure that transactions are perfect, they ensure order in business transactions, and often leave things slightly improved or as they were.

Thus, in a pharmaceutical company, if the typical attitude is to check the ORG (or IMS) market figures, try to find out the best selling branded generics, then the transactional leader puts the typical new product (ie., new brand of a generic) launch process in motion. The transactional leader ensures launch of a 'new product' (ie., new brand of a generic):

- in glitzy packing
- with minimum 50% bonus offer to chemist retailers
- provides sales pack as samples to MRs for ensuring availability of product at retailers
- regular physician's samples with an attractive cache (or catch) cover
- a visual aid with big brand name some supporting lines, UV spot lamination for the pack shot, and a flap or some other attention getter on the visual aid
- literatures
- launch gifts
- special gifts linked to no. of prescriptions generated or order purchase (by dispensing doctors)
- launch incentive scheme to MRs and field staff

The transactional leader does this by rote. And ensures incremental increase in business. If board members are happy with the ROI (return on investment) it is business as usual, all are very happy, the picture is hunky dory!

But in today's pharma scenario is this approach enough? It is after all safe., time tested ... BUT ... BE WARNED ... this transactional leadership based business model will have limitations and will cause strain on pharma enterprises. This is not a doomsday prediction! It is reality. It is being pragmatic.


The electronic industry is always in a tizzy. There are tech innovations firing up new product launches. There is no scope for cocooning in transactional leadership. People are always trying to look at

- creating CHANGE (rather than getting run down by change in the industry)
- being INNOVATIVE (doing something new, adding value and improving the competitive offering)
- encouraging ENTREPRENEURIAL attitude (calculated risk taking, not pulling down people with ideas)

Knowledge, renewal and vision

When organizational knowledge is encouraged and strengthened, when robust intra-enterprise systems share knowledge with employees and stakeholders, when there are animated discussions, ideas are thrown around, the churning creates vitality, renews the organization, and the automatic result is ... visions of, what to go for.

The above scenario is distinctly different from a transactional environment. There is questioning, a process of inquiry, deep thinking, knowledge and idea sharing, questioning established paradigms ... this is the very different environment of transformation.

Microcosm and the macrocosm

The microcosm and the macrocosm are inter-connected. A business enterprise is a part of the societal framework. A firm cannot function inured from changes sweeping society. If there are a lot of transformations going on in society in general, they will impinge on the enterprise too. The microcosm is after all a reflection of the macrocosm.

There are sweeping changes in marketing communication, customer connect, messaging, and customer aspirations in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. So will a transactional environment of a business enterprise suit the transforming marketplace?

It is time to wake up to a new order of transformational leadership in pharmaceutical organizations. The well established SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) will not suffice!

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Survival instinct and tactile branding

To try and survive is an instinctive thing! However, self destructive habits can kill the survival instinct. Anything that goes against the survival instinct is self destructive!!

Employee success

To attain success, growth or survival in organizations, it is not the work related behavior alone that matters. There are many other behavioral patterns that arise from high adaptability - in fact; this is responsible for employee survival or success. The intensity of adaptability is again directly proportional to the intensity of survival instinct.

In work environments, there are many attributes an individual needs to adopt for survival, growth and success. This is in spite of the fact that the constant environmental changes may go against an individual’s conditionings, likes and dislikes - but adaptation to environmental changes is critical for the individual’s survival and success.

Changes in the work environment

Let us say, an intense work culture is practiced by an individual for many years. Then one fine day, a series of changes in the work environment happen due to either change in the bosses or owners or when a new generation of leaders’ take over. As part of the new changes, let us say it is not just work related behavior that becomes important. There are other nonwork related behaviours that also become important. So what does the employee do in this changed context?

Eg. 1: A new expatriate boss comes in. This guy believes in ‘work hard and play hard’. So he starts weekend parties for key employees. So this causes new strain on his reportees and key employees. They have to start accommodating weekend parties and other party related social skills to ensure survival, success and growth. Employees who have never played card games, or taken liquor, or cracked typical party jokes, or learnt and practiced party etiquette will have to now start indulging in the same.

How will the employee change and adapt to the new environment?Only through the survival instinct (of the employee)!

Eg. 2: Let us say a new senior expatriate boss comes in. This guy has a fancy for taking morning walks on the beach and countryside walks during weekends. Well, then ... starts a new chain of behavior patterns among key personnel and important employees. They would also have to start walking in the morning and go for long walks in the countryside during their weekends!!

Learning and adapting to this new behavioral pattern is important if the employees have to thrive and succeed!

Eg. 3: Now let us say, a new senior management person takes over, and starts a package of annual extracurricular competitive events like carom, chess, quiz, memory test etc for engaging employees.

The employees who have been for decades practicing only work related behavior (and have not played memory test or cricket or any other event for decades will have to now start adapting to this change to participate effectively)
; they will have to suddenly adapt to this change and start participating in the same, either by organizing or by participating in the events or at least by being the audience for the events.

This type of adaptability is important for survival, success and growth. So how will this change in the employee, particularly in theconditioned senior employees, come? This change will come only if the employee’s adaptability is high and survival instinct is sharp!

So the bottomline is that an intense survival instinct is a must for individuals and organizations.

This almost ‘animal like instinct’ will make a person/organization adaptable, and hence he/she/organization will learn new behaviours’ required for survival, growth, and success

Organizations and their instinct for survival

Organizations can thrive if the collective instinct for survival and consequent adaptability is sharp. The ability to respond to environmental changes, and give appropriate responses through learning, is adaptability. The trait of adaptability is related to the survival instinct. When organizations have a sharp instinct for survival there are changes such as:

a) learning new technologies
b) doing business in new ways
c) investing in new production machinery and producing superior products
d) adopting new marketing techniques and tools to connect with new markets and present markets in a value added manner

Aging and adaptability

Aging is not just physical - it is also a state of mind. When an individual does not have the will or faculty to learn, for adaptation, we can say, age is catching up with the individual.

This logic applies to organizations too. When organizations remain in a comfort zone, have blocks to gaining knowledge or experimenting with knowledge, well then, the organization is aging! Organizations that lack the ability to adapt ... age!

Aging causes weakness, infirmity, lack of energy, loss in stamina, aboulia (loss of will power) and susceptibility to disease! Organizations, in the same vein, are also susceptibile to aging if organizations lose the ability to adapt!

In the contemporary pharma world, the adaptable organizations understand the importance of brands!

Brands too require the survival instinct!

Brands need to have adaptability for survival and growth or success in the marketplace. For this brands need to have a survival instinct.

It would be more accurate to say that brand marketers need to have an intense survival instinct and consequent adaptability... only this will help their brands flourish!

Materialization of brands

One important component of brand management that is contributing to success of brands is, materialization of brands.

Brands are often thought of as intangibles. Brand image is all about the emotional connect, look and feel ... so what is materialization of brands?

Tactile dimension of brands

Materialization of brands refers to consciously increasing the materiality of brand communication. It is about making brands less abstract. One way of doing this is by focusing on the tactile dimension of brands.

Tactile branding

Tactile refers to the sense of touch. The brand's perceptibility to touch is increased in the communication. This means making the brand more tangible and tactile (on the dimension of touch), ensuring that brands create a memorable experience.

Pharmaceutical marketing has always been quite strong on tactile branding. Sampling, collection of clinical experience reports, and case studies are key examples of tactile branding in pharmaceutical marketing.

However, the tendency of brand marketers to resort to gifting at the cost of tactile branding is another pitfall.

Nevertheless, tactile pharmaceutical brand marketing is challenging because the consumption of the pharma brand is by the patient (not by the doctor).

However, the electrolyte energy drink brands being marketed enjoy a distinctive advantage. It is possible for the marketers to increase tactile brand marketing simply because the doctor can also consume the samples of the product. The doctor can rarely do this with other pharma brands.

Tactile brand marketing is a very strong reinforcer of purchase and prescribing habits. Yet for pharma marketers it is difficult to indulge in tactile brand marketing as the drug is normally not consumed by the doctor.

Let us say, you meet a paediatrician to market your brand of paracetamol suspension. Let us also assume that the brand being marketed by you is superior in taste and flavor compared to competitor brands. But how will the doctor appreciate this? Perhaps only through patient feedback.

On the other hand, let us say, the savvy pharma marketer prepares a dummy formulation (one without the drug, having only the flavor) and the marketer makes the doctor taste a spoonful of the flavored dummy product. The likelihood of the doctor appreciating the formulation benefit of better flavor and taste, is more with this method of TACTILE BRAND MARKETING (which involves touch and other senses)! And this will perhaps increase the prescription flow in favor of the marketed brand.

Another dimension of tactile marketing is preparing a flavored product (without the drug) of the competitor brand. And make the target doctor taste (touch, get a feel!) this ugh! flavor and then follow it up with a sample containing the better flavored product. The target doctor gets to appreciate the superior taste through tactile marketing instantly!

Thus, success is possible by increasing the materialization of brands, and enhancing focus on tactile branding.

Let us say, you have a pharma product that is very clear - like crystal clear water. So one marketing approach based on tactile branding is to offer complimentary premium crystal clear drinking water in bottles as gifts to doctors! This will make the doctor appreciate the quality of clearness in the pharma product, through this tactile brand marketing route. Here the water bottle acts to create a touch between the marketed brand and the doctor.

To adopt new learnings, one requires adaptability at the individual and organizational level. Adaptability depends on the intensity of survival instinct. Hope this blogpost has helped you in your quest for successful survival and growth. Please read all other blogposts by scrolling down, clicking on older posts, and kindly recommend my blog to your acquaintances!

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Above image from here.

Organizational success
undoubtedly depends on its people. By people we mean their activities - verily, their involvement. When involvement is high, activities are done with a lot of enthusiasm. A low involvement employee performs activities mechanically - as a chore. Enthusiastic activities of involved personnel help generate better organizational outcomes.


The opposite of job involvement is alienation. If there is low job involvement, the implications to organizations include:

a) absenteeism
b) employee apathy
c) deliberate sabotage
d) strikes
e) go slow work campaign
f) lack of enthusiastic customer service (For eg., a MR who is very involved, is likely to ensure doctor requirements are serviced in a timely manner. However, a MR who has a lackadaisical attitude will not service doctors appropriately).
f) other forms of employee resistance.

The real challenge for managements and managers is to generate high involvement in a continuous manner. It is a situation where employees willingly and enthusiastically work towards company objectives. Low job involvement or alienation will not produce such an employee behavior.

Overcoming alienation

There is no single formula to generate high job involvement. Some of the factors that help generate involvement and avoid alienation:

a) Cultural background of candidate: In various cultures, work ethic is interpreted variously. In certain cultures, work is itself considered a reward, there is intrinsic reward in the work being performed. In other cultures, extrinsic rewards help produce required work behaviour patterns and involvement. Hence, while recruiting if possible it is important to assess the work ethic dimension of applicant. A candidate who places high value on the work itself is usually a better candidate.

b) Socialization and training process in the organization: The way the new employee encultures in to the organization is the key to successful work behaviour. If the new employee sees low job involvement as an inner organizational trend, the new inductee is likely to pick up such cues and get accordingly ingrained. For eg., certain companies have a club like atmosphere, others have an atmosphere that encourage boss-pleasing, and so on... It is during the entry and socialization experiences that an employee picks up company specific traits. Socialization and training inputs help shape new employee attitude in line with company values, and objectives.

c) Self actualization, social need and security need: High job involvement generated by the organization tends to encourage self actualization or the need for employee to tap his or her potential. The enterprise that helps strengthen the individuality of the employee will be better appreciated by the employee, this generates high involvement. Organizations that have systems to provide security and social needs of employees will tend to generate higher employee involvement. The trick is that the organization should be viewed as a purposeful platform for meeting certain important individual needs.

d) Job enrichment: When jobs become repetitive and boring, casualness and alienation seeps in like a silent thief. It is imperative that organizations institute training and upgradation skills that help employees enrich their jobs. Interventions that encourage job enrichment (such as new tools for job execution) will prove useful in increasing job involvement.

e) Isolation, meaninglessness and normlessness: Jobs that encourage social isolation - that do not strengthen self esteem of employee will see higher degree of alienation. This in turn causes higher employee turnover.

Jobs should ideally imbue a sense of meaningfulness in the employee. A MR who sees his job as helping transform the prescriber's practice in a meaningful way, and a MR who gets a sense of success by converting prescribers, will obviously be more successful. On the other hand, when a MR sees his job as a mere routine, and will not see any challenge or meaning in his vocation, will experience a greater sense of alienation, affecting organizational fortunes negatively.

Norms of a job should guide the employee behaviour and help the employee realize his individual goals. If the job norms do not help employee reach his social and professional goals, the employee is most likely to abandon the job with a sense of normlessness.

e) Coping mechanisms: Coping with the challenges of jobs and the sense of alienation that jobs may create should be understood by managers. Effective coping strategies should then be taught so that employees learn how to cope with the alienation and eventually become more involved.

f) Motivational programs: are becoming increasingly important in organizations, as the market place has become very dynamic. Motivation of employee leads to improved job involvement, reduced alienation and better organizational outcomes.

Pharma enterprises today face significant employee challenges. Adequately trained personnel are not picking up pharma jobs particularly in the sales field. Job opportunities in society for the educated are in plenty. Various new sectors are providing jobs to aspirants. Pharma companies have to compete in such situations and attract good candidates. Moreover, the recruited candidates should be moulded in such a way, that they show high degree of job involvement. Further, they should also stay on in the firm. Such are the challenges confronting managers today. This is the nettlesome contemporary pharma scene! Do pharma companies have a cogent strategy to take on the alienation bull by the horns?

Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down, click on older posts wherever required for reading the older posts, and kindly do recommend this blog to your acquaintances.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thoughts on branding


The concept of branding started with branding of cattle, horses and slaves to indicate ownership (in the 1800s). However. from the end of 19th century, the concept of branding extended to various products. Branding has become a very vital component of business practice. Particularly after Piramal Healthcare Solutions sold 350 brands and just one manufacturing location for a fancy Rs. 17000 crores (3. 2 billion USD), the importance of branding in pharmaceutical industry is felt stronger.

Brands help businesses STAND OUT from the crowd. A brand is not just about a logo, name and 'look and feel', it is also an emotional connect with the target audience. Thus, managements are spending more time looking at brand concepts, brand touchpoints and brand equity or brand value. This includes product brands, service brands and corporate brands.

How may branding develop in the future?

Businesses will strengthen focus on brand equity. Increasing perceived value of brands will gain momentum. Brand management will gain traction as brand assets are becoming more important than the physical aspects of a business. If Pfizer is a valuable company, it is not because it has 'n' number of manufacturing locations, or 'x' number of employees (including field force) - Pfizer is as valuable as its brands. Period! Corex is a Rs. 200 crore brand today. Corex is the no. 1 pharmaceutical brand in India. This and other brands from Pfizer make Pfizer valuable. This logic is applicable to any other company too. Businesses are valued mainly on brand equity.

This was not the case in the 1980s or earlier. Then, the physical assets of a company had greater value. The land and manufacturing plants were providing the main value to the pharmaceutical business. Today? It is the brand equities that are adding value to the enterprise.

This trend of increasing importance of brand equity or brand value will usher in a new approach of corporate working where the emphasis will be on increasing brand values or brand valuation.

Brands gain value or equity from:

1) brand sales
2) brand profits
3) brand scalability: is there scope for the brand to grow? Can the brand value increase exponentially with future time?
4) brand image: is it respectable?
5) brand penetration: is the brand more urban focused? Is the brand more focused towards specialists?

Brands versus threats of obsolescence

In pharma industry, brands have a unique threat, ie., of getting outdated. For instance, brands of astemizole, terfinadine, cimetidine, rofecoxib ... where are they now? With the generic molecule getting outdated or being withdrawn from the market, due to adverse drug reactions, the brands also have died a premature death. For a brand marketer, it is a tragedy. With great efforts the brand marketers have worked for ensuring good BRAND RECALL in the market. Finally, with controversy dogging the generic, the brand also has to suffer premature death. All the brand marketing investments have come to a nought!

Brands are separate assets

With brands becoming more valuable than even physical assets, brands need to be protected and brands need to live longer in the market in the best interests of the pharma company. With generics becoming outdated or withdrawn, how can a company preserve the brand name?


This was the marketing conundrum faced by the marketers at Reckitt. Sometime back quietly the marketers changed their DISPRIN from aspirin to paracetamol. The marketing thought was that Disprin was no longer being used for headaches widely, paracetamol was the faster selling generic in this space, hence, the quiet replacement of generic aspirin with paracetamol. However, when this happened, it stirred a hornet's nest. The regulators objected to this change as it was imprinted on the mind of prescribers that Disprin is aspirin. Disprin is used as a blood thinning agent too. So the company had to do a volte face.

The pragmatic marketers of Reckitt heeding to the public outcry and comments of the drug regulators, so they launched Disprin Paracetamol as a line extension. This has avoided the allegation of misbranding too.

Line extensions the way out

The above case study of Disprin (aspirin) and Disprin Paracetamol shows the way forward for pharma companies in brand management. With brand clutter being the order of the day, resorting to line extensions is becoming a necessity. Saving the brand name in the event of a generic becoming outdated or banned is an important challenge to brand marketers. Brands are built over time through costly investments. These efforts and resources spent, should ideally not come to a nought, just because a generic is no longer wanted. The brand name of the generic is still an important asset. The brand has generated a lot of pen habit among prescribers. Line extensions is a way out to save the brand name. This is especially because brands are today, very important assets, and it is not easy to establish brands. Disprin aspirin and Disprin Paracetamol is a very interesting and pragmatic approach.

The case of Althrocin

Ask any doctor what 'heritage brand' Althrocin is, pat will come the reply, Althrocin is erythromycin. At one time, in the 1990s, Althrocin was among the top 5 pharmaceutical brands of India. Today, with erythromycin prescriptions becoming lesser due to rise in prescriptions for cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones, the brand name Althrocin has become very weak. The brand equity is a pale shadow of its glorious past. What a brand tragedy?!


If brand Althrocin was redefined to include all similar generics like Azithromycin, Roxithromycin, and Clarithromycin (ie., macrolide antibiotics), through line extensions, would it have helped the marketing cause of increasing brand value of Althrocin?

Unless, brands evolve with times, ensuring relevance to the target audience, the brand values will inevitably become weak. Technology has to be harnessed to prop the brand higher. Brands should extend to various types of dosage formulations to ensure the brand is still exciting and relevant. In today's context, brand marketers should not easily bury brands, just because they have become old and mature. Brand marketers should help brands evolve and remain pertinent with changing times. That is the true call of brand marketing!

Brand marketing in pharmaceutical marketing is now a greater challenge since the brand is a master asset. In the above examples, brand marketers can take brand decline lightly and be party to the 'degrowth of a brand' because the brand is getting old OR like the interesting case of Disprin Paracetamol, brand marketers can make strategic moves (such as line extensions, there are other approaches too) to ensure brands evolve with time, and that brand equity enhances with time, so that there is a good future for all brands. NOW THAT IS SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT!

Wishing all brand marketers all success in their professional life! Please do recommend this blog to your acquaintances, kindly read all other blogposts by scrolling down and clicking on older posts when required. Trumpet the benefits of the brand, do not make the voice feeble!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The organization and marketing spirit

The above image from here.

First there were governments then there are organizations!

"Young people will have to learn organizations the way their forefathers learned farming"
- Peter Drucker

Truly, it is a different world! In medical practice there was an era of the solitary reaper! In India, doctors would have to just complete their MBBS and with the help of well wishers or through Medical Representatives (who through their travel are aware of the good spots where clinics can be put up), the doctor would start a clinic and start counting the money! Is it that easy today?!

Besides competition from individual medical practitioners, a doctor (new or old) will have to face competition from medical institutions. There are medical organizations competing to offer medical services to patients. And this is changing the way medical services are being delivered, thanks to the medical organization.

Wherever you go ... there are organizations and more organizations. Peter Drucker is right in the above quote where he has indicated that it is now an organizational society. The post industrial society and the e-enabled society (internet driven or information society) is seeing a plethora of virtual and "brick and mortar" organizations.

Living in and with organizations

Life in organizations is not easy. It is not as in family (which is also an organization, in a way). The basic principle of life in organizations is ACCOUNTABILITY (which is not so very tight in families, ie., it is more flexible in families. There is scope for "free lunches" and poor ROI ie., return on investment in families. Come what may, normally families are always together - there is no sacking or leaving the organization). Besides accountability, there is the ROI factor in organizations. When organizational resources are being used for activities by individual(s) in the organization, inevitably there are formal and informal assessments of return on investments done. And it is this that makes life in organizations challenging.

Why do people join organizations?

Organizations refer to groups of people having a common purpose. At the very basic level, people join an organization to get money - for a living. This is the first level why a person joins an organization that pays him/her. Organizations provide jobs, and people need jobs. So people join organizations. There is no other easier way of earning money today.

At a slightly higher level, a person joins an organization due to his or her qualification. There is a match between the joinee's profile and organizational need. For the services rendered, the entrant to the organization is paid a salary or provided a compensation.

At a higher level, an ideological level, people join an organization inspired by the mission or purpose of the organization. Joining political parties, or NGOs or terrorist organizations (!) or even some commercial organizations that have a particular culture or inspiring purpose are such examples.

Why do people start organizations?

There are various motives why people start organizations. Typically, an unmet market need, visualized by an entrepreneur is the spark for the start of organizations. When the Indian Patents Act, 1970 came in to being (where product patent was not recognized in India, only process patents were recognized), many entrepreneurs smelt a market kill through reverse engineering and marketing branded generics. Cipla, Aristo, Alkem, Sun Pharma, Zydus Cadila etc are examples of Indian companies who grew on the foundation provided by the new market opportunity created by the Indian Patents Act, 1970.

The game has however changed from 2005. Now product patents are recognized. Reverse engineering is getting progressively more difficult. So inevitably product innovations are getting to be more important. Marketability is also gaining higher importance rather than mere selling based organizations.

The second need for starting organizations is the ego drive or power need. People like to have reportees. Individuals enjoy having people reporting to them, and having these reportees doing the organizational leader's bidding. These are the feudalistic type of organizations. The financial control of leaders in the organization provides them with the power to have and control behavior of reportees.

The third set of people who end up starting organizations are those who reach very high levels. Egs.: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell. They are the marketers. They create markets through their ideas and products. There are very few of them in this world, and they create organizations of maximum value. In fact, their organizations recast the business world. Their activities are paradigm shifts, their entrepreneurial and marketing work causes tectonic shifts in the business milieu. Their organizations change the lifestyle of people and the way of the society significantly.

Steve Jobs is doing this with his i series of products: the i-pod, ... and now the i-pad. In fact, in the pharma marketing news (electronic newsletter) published by John Mack: he has written nicely on how the i-pad can revolutionize pharma marketing communication activity. Ray Croc who created the franchisee business model of McDonalds - changed eating behaviour of human beings particularly in USA!! He is the marketer's marketer!! Coca Cola that started as a product sold in pharmacies, has changed the way people quench thirst and consume fluids.

Organizations, ideas, products and marketing

The question to ponder on: do organizations create super products or do super product ideas create organizations or is it a mix of these two approaches? One thing is for certain, good product ideas require organizations. Nevertheless, for the organization which revolves around a good product idea to succeed, the MOST ESSENTIAL INGREDIENT is the marketing spirit.

Marketing is not just about charismatic marketers (like Vijay Mallya or Steve Jobs or Richard Branson). Such marketing approaches that depend on the charisma of certain people will not be as effective as a marketing process driven organization. A typical company that is marketing process driven is the collossus GOOGLE. Contrast Google with the way Apple works. Apple appears to click only when Steve Jobs is around. However, GOOGLE is always clicking! Until recently or even now there are many who have not heard of Larry Page and Sergey Brin (the founders of Google). So the marketing process, ideas, great product concepts and then the organization ... these are the ingredients for success in today's world!!

In India, till 1991, the Govt. was the most important entity. After 1991, the economic liberalization process started under the guidance of IMF, which bailed out a bankrupt Indian govt. After 1991, the importance of private organizations has slowly and steadily increased. The development of new media and increased educational attainments of Indians, has further catalyzed the process. Hence, to succeed in the organizational society of India, as Peter Drucker says, we need to gain important organizational management skills! Thnks for reading this blogpost, kindly scroll down and read all other blogposts, please recommend my blog to your acquaintances.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Category killers

Steve Jobs (above) is not just a product entrepreneur, he is a category inventor. Steve creates products that are 'category killers'! Apple, Mackintosh, i-pod, i-phone, i-pad ... all these products are about a new category of products. Steve's success lies in making products that meet new customer needs. He has the knack to identify the market gaps, fill them, and succeed.

Entrepreneurs aim for mega successes. They look for concepts that create something new, redefine the present, set new standards, help gain a leap in sales and provide a higher platform of performance. From where do such mega successes come?

Categories not products create mega successes

New categories are the paradigm creators. New categories create mega successes:

Ujala: the whitener for clothes
Nirma: the first mass market affordable detergent powder
Hero Honda: India's first four-stroke mobike that combined style, performance and ECONOMY, it became a runaway success
Nano, the car: from Tata has created a lot of buzz and in June 2010, Nano helped make Tata Motors become India's second largest 4 wheeler manufacturer after Maruti
Viagra: for the management of erectile dysfunction, from Pfizer, was a runaway success. Viagra was a new product, in fact, a new pharma category
Ciprofloxacin: the fluoroquinolone antibiotic was India's first twice daily effective antibiotic for typhoid and gastroenteritis, this molecule got instant acceptance from prescribers
Mineral water @ Rs. 10/-: Before the mass packaged drinking water concept, brand Bisleri was the only bottled 'mineral water'. Things changed when more manufacturers jumped in to the packaged drinking water bandwagon, and produced packaged (bottled) mineral water - this created a new category
Electrolyte-energy drink concept from Jagdale Industries Ltd., Bangalore is a category creator that has met with robust market success
Mobile phone is a category product that has altered commerce, communication and society in general, as never before. The mobile is not just a communication tool, it is an entertainment device to watch TV, listen to music, and now banks are looking towards the mobile for banking solutions. In the future, the mobile will enable those out of the banking net (right now) to be brought in. People will be able to having bank accounts via the mobile and pay through the mobile. The Indian Railways is also looking to reduce paper usage by providing the "ticket" through sms
The 'i' series of products ie., i-pod, i-phone, and i-pad are all new categories of products backed by fluent marketing

The nub of the matter is that mega success comes from category killers as illustrated above.

Category killer is a brand, product, company or service that has a distinct sustainable competitive advantage that competing firms find it almost impossible to operate profitably in that industry.

There is of course another meaning to this term: large retail chains like Wal Mart that put other smaller retailers out of business are called category killers. However, in marketing and strategy, category killer is a group of products or a product that delivers superior value and creates a category in the market. A category killer redefines the market.

Oral insulin is another example of a change champion product that can become a category killer. Biocon is working on this concept. If oral insulin becomes a reality, Type 2 diabetes mellitus becomes easier to manage, similar to thyroid disease, where oral thyroxine tablets are given. Just imagine, if management of thyroid disease was possible only through injectable thyroxine what a painful disease hypothyroidism would have been.

It is difficult to create products that have superior value that can create a new product category market. Hero Honda continues to be the evergreen example of a product that has created a new category in the market, leading to its triumph in the motorcycle market. Steve Jobs seems to have perfected the art and science of hitting the market regularly with new categories of products backed by savvy marketing.

New categories = innovation

Simply put, innovation is doing something new that is useful. It takes an interdisciplinary approach to do it. And innovation depends on competition. The need to innovate comes from the desire of an organization to exist in the market.

Innovation in the Indian pharma market

Today, the pharmaceutical industry and marketing is a demystified place. People know the tricks of the trade. There is a thriving ecosystem that provides products, this has led to commoditization, and a plethora of brands. Hence, in the Indian pharma market place the need to innovate is felt as never before. Innovation to try and create new product categories is becoming a vital strategy in the Indian pharma industry.

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