Thursday, January 28, 2010

Era of market segmentation

Market segmentation is an important criterion of marketing. Pharmaceutical marketing has traditionally been a bastion of marketing activity based on market segmentation strategies. Broadly speaking, pharma marketing is done by matching product profile to the specialty of doctor (ie., market segment). There are two aspects here, one is specialty by qualification and the other is specialty by practice. There are doctors who may have a certain specialty like D Ortho, but their practice is mainly general practice. Similarly, there are certain lady doctors, particularly in semi rural areas, who are GPs by qualification, but the size of their gynecology practice will put a qualified gynecologist to shame! The ability to understand the market, and then create and implement market segmentation strategies helps avoid wastage in pharma marketing. Market segmentation strategy is in fact, the crux of pharma marketing.

I got the above interesting image from here.

Understanding market segments

Market segmentation is done based on:

a) qualification of doctors
b) no. of patients a doctor sees
c) type of patients the doctor gets (ie., purchasing capacity of the patient)
d) practice type of doctor (whether the doctor's practice matches his or her qualifications)
e) mindset of doctor with reference to his or her needs (whether the doctor is gift oriented, cash oriented, sample oriented, scheme oriented, regularity oriented, information oriented etc).

The above approach is a ground level tactic.

At the strategic and policy level, pharma companies also take a call on the market segment to focus on. For eg., pharma companies hive off divisions with a product portfolio that caters to a specific segment of doctors. Pharma companies have divisions that concentrate on, say, the paediatric segment. Another division to focus on gynaecology segment (doctors - both by practice and qualification will be targeted) or a further division for catering to coverage of Vet segment. These days there are divisions focusing on rural and semi rural segments too. Thus, thinking in terms of market segmentation, plays a key role in pharma marketing.

Today, there are still newer forms of market segmentation.

Market segmentation is done based on geographic coverage. There are companies that launch and concentrate on REGIONAL BRANDS to cater to specific geographic areas. It is done strategically to avoid unnecessary inventory and promotional clutter. For example, certain antimalarial drug brands to endemic areas only.

Another example: let us say, a company has a brand of paracetamol that sells well in the North zone but the sales despite many promotional campaigns does not take off in South. However, in the South, let us say the company's diclofenac brand does very well. Based on such market trends, certain companies take a strategic call.

Marketing and product promotional resources are concentrated as per the nature of market acceptance. So for the North zone, more inputs will go for the paracetamol brand and for the South zone, more inputs will go for the diclofenac brand (in above example). Basically, the market trends are followed for building REGIONAL BRANDS rather than focusing on building National Brands. This helps in ROI justification which is also an important corporate goal given to the marketing guys.

Actually, the above strategy helps avoid OPPORTUNITY LOSSES.

This is an important concept. Markets offer opportunities for products. Let us continue with the above line of thinking ...

Imagine an obdurate product manager who in spite of market realities focuses his efforts on building the paracetamol brand in South zone.

What will happen?
There is an opportunity loss, resources and field force time will be utilized for building the paracetamol brand, in lieu of the diclofenac brand, resulting in an opportunity loss for the diclofenac brand in South zone.

Hence, marketing strategists do take a call on where to allocate precious resources, how best to use field force time and energies, and how to manage the attention time of the vital 2 minutes that the MR gets with the doctor and chemist.

Today, with doctors giving less time and attention to each MR, the focus of field force and strategists is on how to optimally and judiciously use the short interaction time with doctors.

One just cannot dump an umpteen brand names. This is the attention age. In fact, it is the era of the ATTENTION ECONOMY. Gaining the attention of doctor and chemist and judiciously using the same is the real contemporary challenge in pharma marketing. This is more so because there are some 75000 pharma brands, and a no. of regional pharma companies all vying for mindshare of prescribers.

And the solution for the above problem of market clutter is product portfolio rationalization, understanding where to put in the precious promotional inputs - resources - and field force time; and clearly understanding the MARKET SEGMENTATION with respect to doctor covered, and products chosen for active promotion in specific segments and geographies.

When I was fresh in to the pharma marketing field, I had the good fortune to work for a short time with one of the best pharma brains - MR. RAJJIV KUMAR SEHGAL. In his speeches to the field force he would oft repeat, if the Americans knew in which bunker Saddam Hussein was holed up, the Gulf war would have been over with just one smart bomb. So market intelligence and market strategy is most important, no point wasting precious time and resources.

Targeted marketing is very purposeful marketing. It takes up the purpose with market segment and ensures that there is best ROI. When Digene is available in various flavors, Abbot has the data for the regional preferences of various flavors, and accordingly inventory management and promotional efforts are done.

Relevance is the main theme of market segmentation strategies. Relevant products, relevant services, relevant promotional messages, relevant gifts and all other relevant value delivery works, are done in market segmentation based marketing.

Business people often ask during expansion strategies can I become all things to all people?! For example, can every company become like Cipla, a giant supermarket! Very likely not!! So an element of focus on market segments that are relevant, ensures monies, time and resources are not scattered. Market segmentation helps rationalize the financial picture and cash flows too!

Today, with divisionalization in big pharma companies, development of regional pharma companies and PCD (propaganda cum distribution) businesses, it is not at all easy to market pharma goods. ROI has become very important in pharma marketing. To justify market spends and marketing budgets (that only increase), some of the market segmentation strategies relied on are:

a) regional brand building strategies
b) regional product launches
c) strengthening field operations in certain geographies only, where company sales are strong
d) product portfolio rationalization to ensure field force focuses on profitable brands.

Market segmentation has to be balanced very keenly with the tendency to do everything and scale up businesses to mass markets! If scaling up clicks it is great, but many a times, it can spell doom. Because ROI suffers. Thanks for spending time reading this blogpost, please scroll down, read all other posts (click on older posts if required, feel free to recommend this blog to your acquaintances).

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Emerging dimensions in pharma marketing

Pharma marketing is not inured to changes in society. Major technological, cultural and other social forces have considerable impact on pharma marketing. Traditional pharma marketers believe that the major marketing strategy is to recruit MRs and focus on monitoring their call activities, call related behavior, and POB (personal order booking). So each MR is supposed to make 10 doctor calls, 5 chemist calls and weekly stockist calls. This is believed to be enough to get the business rolling in. And if sales results are not satisfactory, marketers tinker with the above processes. Either increase the no. of doctor calls, increase no. of MRs, or collaterals, gifts, incentive schemes of MRs, and so on. Marketing forces in society have however, changed and the above simple MR based strategy will not suffice to lend the competitive marketing edge!

I got the above image from here.


Traditional pharma marketing in India has been focused on 10 doctor calls, 5 chemist calls, and weekly stockist calls. Traditional pharma strategies are samples, visual aid, leave behind literatures, gifts (big and small) and personalized sponsorships. Another basic feature of pharma marketing has always been that it is technically heavy. To engage informed doctors, pharma marketers present marketing information that is science based. The trained MR talks about pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, volume of distribution of a drug, about drugs crossing the BBB (blood brain barrier), half-lives of drugs, and hydrophylic or lipophilic nature of molecules. So in a way, it is quite staid and technically heavy traditional pharma marketing.

Forced to look beyond 10 doctor calls and 5 chemists...

When everyone in pharma marketing starts doing this 10/5 stuff and other me-too collaterals, it gets a tad too crowded in the marketplace. This has led to marketing straetgy and promotional clutter! So how can pharma marketers engage with customer and prospect doctor audiences in a more effective manner?

Enter now, in to a new era of pharma marketing...

It is now the era of database marketing, event marketing, special campaigns, programs and other activities. The main strategy of 10 doctor calls and 5 chemist calls (per MR) remains the sheet anchor of pharma marketing basics. But marketing strategy clutter (everyone is doing the same thing!) is forcing marketers to look beyond traditional ways of engaging the target doctors and chemists, marketers are keenly looking to focus on event marketing, special campaigns, and other activities to augment regular call activity of MRs.

In database marketing, a proper and scientifically managed database of doctors and chemists is built through investments in infrastructure, staff, computers, and other necessities. The data is then harvested through computerized methods for mailer based, e-mail, sms and other communication and marketing activities. Database marketing gives the advantage of ensuring surety in message or item (eg., samples and reminder gifts) transfer to addressee, a robust call list of doctors/chemists even if MR changes, and personalization of the content that is being provided to addressee. Database marketing, which is a form of direct marketing, is regularly done in consumer marketing. Cipla is the pioneer user of database marketing, as an important supplement to MR activity, thus ensuring best value delivery to customers. With cloud computing and increased software penetration, it is inevitable that database marketing in pharma will gain a fillip in months and years to come.

Special campaigns are meant to create a buzz among the field force and target customer segments. Campaigns help invigorate a field force burdened with the monotony of usual calls. Campaigns raise enthusiasm and energy levels among field members. Campaigns create a vibration in target market audiences. Ranbaxy, as per the market grapevine, is said to conduct two campaigns per week (that is a really huge investment, because companies of this stature invest hugely in campaigns).

Campaigns are co-ordinated set of activities. For eg., in this international campaign, Shire has used a phone ADHD support twitter account. Back home, in India, marketers have experimented with call center based phone support (CRM) on pharma products. Companies use various days like the WHO declared health days (for eg., Feb 4th, International Cancer Day) for performing specific marketing campaigns. Campaigns help field force perform better, with conviction, focus and objectives. Campaigns also help in bonding with target doctors.

Events are the in-thing

Events involving gatherings of doctors, and are great places for pharma marketers to engage prospect and customer doctors. These events may be big conferences like ASICON, PEDICON and AICOG, or they may the regional and local conferences.

OTX is India's reality!

The Indian pharma market is a combination of OTX (over-the-counter plus Rx ie., prescription). The prescriptions are an important force that creates consumption. However, Rx also triggers off auto purchase of products from pharmacies. Yet it is a delicate balance! Remove, the Rx prop, and the auto purchase of products also dries up. Rx is a very important demand creating force for pharma and healthcare product consumption. If one overplays the auto purchase (ie., OTC component) doctors may stop prescribing as the prescriber starts feeling that the product is OTC! So influencing OTC sell and purchase needs to be done subtly without miffing doctors!

Let us imagine, a foreigner comes to the Indian pharma market and wants to market his pharma wares! So to study the market, he looks up the ORG IMS reports and decides to launch a good OTX brand. So interesting surprises await him! The best product of the great Indian pharma bazaar is COREX (!) a schedule X product containing codeine phosphate. Positioned for dry cough, Corex (with a MAT value of Rs. 172 crores!!) is the addict's delight and the Indian pharma market's #1 product! Oh! Wow Pharma India!! Corex and Phensedyl (Phensedyl is a Rs. 149 crores MAT value brand) (both are codeine phosphate based products) are the no. 1 and no. 3 pharma brands of India. Voveran is no. 2. pharma brand in India; and Liv 52 the evergreen Ayurvedic brand is no. 4 (and growing steadily thanks to its OTX profile).

The production of Corex like products is highly regulated. So if a small, say, Mandya based propaganda cum distributor wants to market his brand of codeine phosphate antitussive, it will be very difficult. So the best thing for market controllers to do is help all interested people market codeine phosphate based products. For this it is essential to provide the bulk drugs liberally and in good quantities, so that more and more manufacturers can jump on to the codeine phosphate cough syrup bandwagon. Such markets need to be developed, why should only two brands dominate the codeine phosphate anticough market? If nimesulide can have 100 brands, codeine phosphate market can certainly have a thousand brands. So market controllers should permit and make manufacture of codeine phosphate products easier, in the national interest, and it is not fair to allow only two brands to dominate this market piece.

We can also prepare a collective vision statement for the codeine phosphate market, like say, let us grow it to a Rs. 1000 crore market in 3 years. Today, the two brands, Corex and Phensedyl are together Rs. 321 crores. Mind you, Corex is a star brand and original research product of Pfizer, which has a mission statement of applying SCIENCE TO LIFE. It is ironic that Pfizer markets this important research brand (COREX this link provides Corex link to wikipedia) only in India and a few Asian countries. Why do we allow products that are not US FDA approved in India? After all, the grouse against nimesulide is that it is not US FDA approved drug right?!

The central idea of all marketing activities ( MR working, events, programs, ads and campaigns) is to ultimately ensure that brands STAND-OUT from the clutter. The idea is to get improved mind share, and consequently Rx share and market share. This can be done through marketing processes that involve events, ads (in medical journals), programs and campaigns.

Thnks for reading this blogpost, please refer this blog to your acquaintances, kindly scroll down click on older posts, wherever required to read all other blogposts.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Managing in a media rich environment


Today a manager has a new set of challenges arising from a media rich environment. Messages and information get flashed faster than anticipated. Images float round the web. Hence, managerial work inevitably involves using the various media to achieve predetermined objectives, build businesses, and manage work.

Traditionally, a manager in an organization is positioned to direct flow of work and people activities to ensure achievement of objectives. Managers build businesses. Managers are involved in planning, organizing, staffing, controlling, measuring, integrating, development of people, and leading. The normal communication tools of a manager are the telephone, letters, fax and memos, and meetings with peers, subordinates and superiors (at various venues). However, the advent of new media has changed the way of doing managerial work and the communication tools. The mobile, e-mail, video conferencing, and now tele-presence technologies have revolutionized the way managers direct flow of work and people activities.

Information float and managerial working

Managers have succeeded in the past through control of information/knowledge. For instance, I still recollect how in one of my first jobs, a senior manager made me run helter-skelter to prepare some product notes. Later, when evaluating my report, he took out the "Drugs" and "TRIPS" (Trends In Pharmacological Sciences) journals (to which I had no access), from his drawer and said that these points ought to be included!! But today, the internet has caused the collapse of this information float. Control and manipulative managers are having a tougher time!! It is not easy to control and manipulate access to information and knowledge in a media rich environment.

It is all open! The regional pharma phenomenon!!

During the recent Pedicon 2010, Hyderabad, one low profile new off-the-block company made its presence felt - emphatically yet, quietly. This company is not mapped by ORG. The company is Vijayawada based Med Manor. There are many such companies with an annual turnover between Rs. 14 crores to Rs. 20 crores growing in various regional segments of the great Indian pharma bazaar (these companies are not routinely mapped by ORG). These include companies like Unison, Ares, and so on. But these "invisible companies" are having their tasty morsels of the Indian Pharma market.

I complimented a director of Med Manor who takes care of marketing, in fact they are traditionally C &F operators and stockists in the Indian pharma market; for his participation in Pedicon 2010 and asked his recipe of successful working.

He exulted, "Sir, everything is now in the open!!" "Today, a retailer will tell you the costing for various pharma products! You don't need a cost accountant!! In places like Hyderabad, various companies having factories at places like Hardwar, have offices, and they will help you get the product you desire, two or three batches if you like, but you need to market it!! In fact, the company representatives also travel to places like Rajahmundry, Cuddapah etc and book batches of products to MR agents!

To participate in this event I sat down with my managers and other company managers and made my check list on what to do and how to do! Simple!! It is all open!!!". This is what the gentleman said to me!!

I had heard in the recent past from a field person that there are 'agents' in places like UP who help propaganda cum distribution MRs to get products manufactured from good pharma companies. The propaganda cum distribution MR need not even have a contact with the manufacturer! The agent helps.

These regional segment companies are growing steadily, they are regional operators, yet they are invisible at the macro level.

So one can set out to define this new Indian pharma market trend as the regional pharma phenomenon -

The development of regional pharma companies who cater to targeted prescriber and chemist audiences through specific quantities of pharmaceutical formulations with customized and attractive services, schemes, and value delivery, can be defined as the REGIONAL PHARMA PHENOMENON

Media creates networks

Today, Shashi Tharoor has 6 lakh followers on Twitter! I am one of them! Just imagine his network and the electronic constituency that follows him! That is the effect of new age electronic media. Various social networking and knowledge websites like have changed the way information, insight and knowledge gets around. It is the age of instant media. Today's manager should be communication and media savvy to take optimal decisions, direct flow of work and people activities in this highly digitally oriented wired world.

Media is powerful with rich images and instant messaging is an interesting business media site. The website presents business activities of Hyderabad with rich videos. You can see the Pedicon 2010 trade stall activities by clicking here. A dynamic business leader at Pedicon 2010, Hyderabad, makes his point (on electrolyte energy drinks) through video here. Another product manager makes her viewpoint too. There are several videos of participants talking about their Pedicon 2010, Hyderabad activities. This is instant image rich multimedia messaging for you! Today's manager should have the alacrity to handle such electrifying media stuff.

Social media conversations in pharma are very much on!!

Like it or hate it, social media is here to stay. Conversations through message boards, blogs, twitter, social networking sites and so on, will continue to gain traction through internet, particularly because PC, internet and mobile internet penetration is increasing at fast rates. Social media between doctors also exists. Such conversations will shape perceptions on brands, therapies, and prescriptions on products will be influenced. Conversations between healthcare providers and patients, between patients and patients etc will continue to bloom on the internet.

Social media is very powerful. Its power has not yet been imagined by many. The reason behind the power of social media is DEMOCRATIZATION of knowledge and insights. Social media (or user generated content or consumer generated content) is powerful because it empowers.

Word-of-mouth is vital for marketers. Positive word-of-mouth is more powerful than advertising in conversion of prospects to customers. Social media is akin to word-of-mouth. People talk about brands and this talk influences consumption of brands.

Social media, prescribing habits and patient behavior

Pharma and healthcare marketers are curious about social media because it has influence on prescribing habits, patient behavior and consequently brand consumption.

Doctors prescribe through three ways of medical decision making processes:

a) INDUCTION: where doctors titrate to past clinical experiences, or understand the mechanism of disease and logically use medications; basically, doctors follow empirical clinical experiences and logic to make prescribing decisions.

b) SEDUCTION (or abdication): is a common approach of medical decision making. Physicians take decisions based on what others say: for eg., teachers, consultants, medical representatives, textbooks etc influence the decision making process.

c) DEDUCTION: is the ideal sort of medical decision making process, which needs to be followed by doctors. However, it is a tough way of practicing medicine. Doctors critically review randomized clinical trials and take decisions through evidence based medicine. Deduction will be followed by many intellectual doctors. But it is an effort intensive process. It is possible that with internet penetration, EBM (evidence based medicine) will be the future of medicine.

Social media based medical decision making: the real future of medical decision making

The above phrase is coined by me. Social media based medical decision making will be the bridge between the above three methods of medical decision making. Social media phenomenon cannot be swept under the carpet. Social media will integrate the three ways of medical decision making. Social media assisted medical decision making will be the REAL FUTURE. Pharma and healthcare marketers need to start appreciating this point and participate by creating platforms for social conversations (that link to evidence based medicine, induction, and abdication or seduction in the same electronic platform). It is better to be a part of the change than get swept away by a social current.

Attention age demands attention!

The information age is said to be metamorphosing in to the ATTENTION AGE (where information users get customized messages or information). Information overload is catalyzing the process of the attention age. Social media is expected to play a major role in the attention age, as it helps in customization of information, based on user need or desire.

In the attention age, marketers will be more of facilitators of messaging rather than messaging or pushing messages. This is a powerful change. Marketers will act as conduits of messaging and providing fodder for conversations. They will guide conversations and social media activities. Marketers will provide platforms for social media sites to function. In the attention age, this is the only way for pharma & healthcare marketers to function.

Marketers cannot dominate messaging in the attention age. Marketers will only be modifying messaging, it is inevitable due to the DEMOCRATIZATION of knowledge and information.

Let us suppose, a farmer tending to his fields gets a headache, and pops in a headache relieving tablet. Out of ignorance, he takes the tablet on an empty stomach. This gives him a bad tummy ache. So he takes his internet enabled mobile goes to his twitter account and types in TOOK A HEADACHE RELIEVING TABLET BUT GOT A BAD TUMMY ACHE - HELP! In a short time, somebody replies HEY POP AN ANTACID, NEVER TAKE A PAINKILLER ON AN EMPTY STOMACH. This is the future of healthcare conversations, thanks to the social media.

Are we pharma and healthcare marketers ready for marketing in the ATTENTION AGE?!

Managers need to build businesses. This is what Peter Drucker said. If managers have to build a business in the present age, managers need to be savvy enough to operate in a media rich environment. Social media skills will be required to operate for marketing successes. There is a new future on the marketing horizon! Are healthcare and pharma managers ready for the byte!! Thanks for being a part of this conversation, please do scroll down to read all other blogposts (click on older posts, wherever required), kindly recommend my blog to your acquaintances.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Conflict and success


Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional - Max Lucade

In organizations and organizational activity along with working for shared objectives, one inevitable phenomenon is conflict. When friction arises between people, or there is disagreement between results and plans, or when there are many viewpoints and opinions on any issue, conflict results. New experiences give rise to conflicts in one's mind. There is conflict between one's assumption and the reality. Conflict is as much a reality as harmony is!

Is conflict healthy?

Conflict is like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde! Conflict can be healthy or destructive, just like eustress and negative stress (stress = feeling of inability to cope with a situation). Perhaps it would not be inappropriate to recollect the Bhagavad Gita (a Hindu book) here. The book is about conflict management. Arjuna, the principal character in the book, has a conflict in his mind on whether to war with his cousins or not. Lord Krishna counsels him to help resolve the conflict in Arjuna's mind. Conflict is an every day affair. Choosing between alternatives as a part of decision making is itself a situation of conflict.

Conflict and learning

Conflict is the mother of learning. Gaining new behaviors or knowledge is learning. During PEDICON 2010 (at Hyderabad) trade stall activities, there was conflict galore. Pharma companies vied with each other to provide better in-stall activities compared to each other. In fact, the new dimension of in-stall activity is that it has become a form of experiential marketing. The conflict between pharma companies was to provide better stall experiences compared to each other.

Marketing is a value delivery system. One can market products, services, ideas, and experiences. At Pedicon 2010, Hyderabad, pharma companies tried to steal the thunder from each other through competitive offerings of stall experiences. Doctors were plied with samples, gifts, and services. If one stall offered instant photos for souvenir, others offered instant portraits as souvenirs. Freebies of bags, and other goodies were aplenty. Pharma marketers hired cartoon characters to strengthen brand recall (brand names were printed or put on the cartoon's dress) and families posed with the cartoons for take-home photos. Marketers of electrolyte energy drinks had a great time delighting doctors and taking commitments from them for prescribing the electrolyte energy drinks to patients for better recovery and cheer. Experiences for the senses were marketed fervently and intensely. Lucky dip draws were conducted to thrill and engage prospect and customer doctors. Hence, conflicts were spurring the value delivery process.

PEDICON 2010, Hyderabad was a scene of intense conflict. Seeing the other stall's success, conflict created learning for participants. Strategy was redrawn, new tactics implemented, conflict created new strategies and tactics! New relationships were forged thanks to all the conflict generated. PEDICON 2010, Hyderabad was a valuable conflict driven learning experience to participants.

Product and brand success creates conflict. When a brand A clicks, the other companies watch this and a conflict is generated in their minds. Nobody wants to be a part of failure. It is rightly said, failure is an orphan, while success has many parents! Hence, companies that experience conflict due to success of the competitor company brand, start embarking on a problem-solving behavior. Companies try to work out ways on becoming a part of the success experience and thus resolve the conflict. The ways adopted by companies, can include innovating new products that are superior to brand A, or companies may get in to marketing arrangements with manufacturers to market an alternative to brand A. All in all, conflict is a major force of learning and these learnings give rise to new forms of behavior by individuals and companies.

Conflict resolution

There are three reactions to circumstances of conflict. DOMINATION, COMPROMISE AND INTEGRATION are the three forms of responses to conflict.

When a person or company gets in to a conflict, he or she may dominate using his authority or powers. This makes the other person or company acquiesce.

When conflict happens, persons or organizations may work out compromise formulas or behaviors to ensure that the situation is resolved.

Integration is a sophisticated form of conflict resolution to establish win-win equilibrium in relationships. It is done with a sense of give and take and principles of mutuality.

Let us assume a MR faces a doctor who rebukes him for not being able to provide a sponsorship as per the doctor's need. The MR will then obviously try to integrate his solution to try and match the need of the doctor, to maintain win-win equilibrium.

Let us say, a MR gets in to a conflict with his or her superior on a work-result issue. The wise MR will have a communication that takes the concern of his superior. And through negotiation will try to provide a mutually satisfying solution.

Integration is a scientific method of conflict resolution. It is not made on ego. Conflict resolution is done here as a diligent process based on mutuality, facts and figures.

Conflict and marketing

Marketing has the avowed objective of providing delight to customers. This itself is a conflict. Hence, marketing can be construed as a process of CONFLICT RESOLUTION!

Marketers have to achieve customer delight in an integrated manner without being shortchanged by doctors, and doctors have to get their need or want or desire satisfied within the marketer's limits. Conflict resolution is a daily affair in marketing and sales activity!

Sales representatives are in daily conflict situations with stockists (distributors) to get their primary orders. MRs (medical representatives) have intense encounters to get POBs (personal order bookings) from dispensing doctors and chemists (pharmacies) at mutually acceptable terms.

The story of conflicts does not end there! MRs are under constant pressure from line managers to perform as per target requirements. So there is conflict to be handled there too - with company managers and other organizational personnel!

Conflicts in organizations

Conflicting situations are constant in organizations. Domineering and compromise based solutions (mainly I SCRATCH YOUR BACK YOU SCRATCH MY BACK) are common ways of conflict resolution, which have their limitations. Integration is the scientific but the hard way out.

The pharma conflict

The classic pharma conflict in today's society is whether it is OK to give freebies and junkets to doctors. The other side of the conflict from the point of view of Medical Council of India, is whether it is right for doctors to accept freebies and junkets from pharma companies. In this conflict, the patient is sort of becoming the sucker! There is no advocacy for patient rights. The process of this conflict will continue till transparency catalyzed by the media will lead to an integrated solution.

Conflict and success

Conflict is a part and parcel of societal and organizational life. Conflict as far as it is resolved through integration method, is constructive and better for all concerned. When a brand A causes conflict in the market, savvy integration marketers will see an opportunity there and will desist from bad-mouthing. Integration pharma marketers will resolve the conflict on the basis of mutuality. Conflict is a part of nature's design. That is why we see tremendous diversity in nature and society. Conflict is a resourceful phenomenon that can cause learning and better things - hence success.

Thanks for reading this blogpost, do read all other posts without conflict, scroll down, click on older posts as and when required, altruistically inform your acquaintances of this blog url!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The sixth sense wave

I got the above image of Pranav Mistry demonstrating sixth sense technology from here.
Featured above is Pranav Mistry (please click here to get the source of above image) Ph D, born at Palanpur, India, and now with the famous MIT Media lab. ( This fantastic lab has always contributed hugely to inventing a better world!). Indians have an inbuilt cultural knack to relate abstract concepts to the real world. It perhaps stems from the fact that Indians grow up grappling with abstract subjects. For eg., transmigration of the soul, rebirth, karma, law of cause and effect, Bhakti Yoga (wherein the devotee concentrates his feelings of pure love towards an abstract subject like a God he has never perceived with his senses) ... these are some of the abstract subjects or issues that a person grows up with, in India. This innately makes an Indian relate abstractness with realism. May be this is why, Pranav Mistry has pioneered a new type of technology called sixth sense to the real world.

Pranav's technology is all set to make seemingly impossible things possible!

Imagine you get a Rx from a doctor, and the doctor (as is common) did not get much time to counsel you on the ailment and drugs prescribed.

Now, don't get upset, Pranav's sixth sense tech will help you. Come out of the doctor's office, hold the Rx aloft. And gesture near the Rx say towards the first brand written on the Rx. The sixth sense gadget that you are wearing, will read your gesture and project useful information on to the Rx, so you can read it.

So if a doctor has prescribed Aten 50 mg, the projected information (on to the Rx through light beams) would probably read as: Aten 50 mg helps lower raised blood pressure in patients suffering from hypertension (high blood pressure). Take Aten 50 mg, 15 minutes after breakfast with water. You may experience slight giddiness after the first dose. If the problem persists contact your doctor. Aten 50 mg protects your heart. Aten 50 mg improves quality of life and span of life. Log on to for further information!

Sixth sense technology is the stuff of pure science fiction coming to reality!! Let us say, you are driving towards the airport to catch a flight (as with many pharma executives!). It is not uncommon in India to land up at the airport to find out that the flight has been delayed by say 2 hours. So you end up waiting at the airport nibbling at costly samosas. If you are enabled with sixth sense technology, well, you take out the ticket and hold it, and real-time information of the departure time and other details will be displayed (through projection of light beams) on the ticket or boarding pass. Kinda unbelievable, uncanny and mysterious!? Oh! Well!! I can understand, b'cos I too feel the same reading about this sixth sense stuff!!

Today's mobile may morph in to a sixth sense device 2morro!

The prototype of a sixth sense device is a pocket projector, mirror and camera. This stuff has some more hardware and a software that integrates the elements and runs it. For us pharma guys, it will probably remind us of an endoscope instantly! The basic philosophy behind the sixth sense stuff is merging the physical world with the digital. It is a bit like Indian philosophy, merging the supernatural world with the our material world.

So how does this sixth sense gadget help?

It is something like this: let us say a patient takes a prescription to a pharmacy. The pharmacist reads the Rx and dispenses the brand of, say, an electrolyte energy drink for faster recovery from the illness. The patient holds the pack, and gestures (rather moves his fingers taps at the panel containing the composition on the label). The sixth sense device camera (that the patient is wearing like probably similar to having a mobile these days) picks up the movement and passes it on to the software (in the device), and then the software projects information on to the pack (information that comes out as light beams) that may answer the questions on the patient's mind.

For eg., the projected information may say - Sodium Chloride and Potassium Chloride provide the important ions that help in electrolyte balance. Carbohydrates provide instant energy. The pack is manufactured with aseptic technology. The pack is to be used within 1 hour of opening. Or refrigerate the pack if opened and not consumed fully. For more information log on to

These are some types of information/data that get projected on to the pack (with light beams) from the sixth sense device. This helps augment the physical world with information that is tapped from the digital media. Hand gestures read by the device, operate the device to project the desired information. This in the pharma world will obviously promote patient adherence and patient confidence in the healthcare or prescription product.

Let us imagine a patient with osteoporosis gets his Rx for a calcium supplement. When the patient holds up the pack and gestures, the sixth sense gadget may project the image of an osteoporotic bone explaining that it is brittle and fractures easily. Hence, it is important to strengthen bones with calcium supplementation - this will help reduce fractures. Having read and seen the image of an osteoporotic bone and a picture of a patient with fracture, the patient will probably get more motivated to adhere to the Rx recommendations.

Sixth sense tech machines and health promotion

Imagine a consumer holding a cigarette and the sixth sense device immediately projects information on to his hand that the cigarette is a harbinger of ill-health, cancer and cardiovascular disease, it is possible that the consumer may take two or three puffs and then discard the cigarette! So the sixth sense machine can herald a new era in preventive health!

Neural tube defects and sixth sense tech
I got the above image from here. It is that of a baby born with a type of birth defect due to folic acid deficiency. The birth defect is called neural tube defect. Ladies planning to become pregnant and those in child-bearing years should get adequate folic acid to avoid neural tube defect (NTD) (diabetic women are more prone to delivering a baby with neural tube defect). Sixth sense tech application can help revolutionize awareness and ensure that women are sufficiently motivated to get enough of folic acid.

Let us say a patient is waiting for his turn in the waiting room of a doctor's clinic...

The patient then goes towards a patient education poster (provided by a pharma marketer) on the wall, describing complications of diabetes.

When the patient gestures near the poster showing a picture of a diabetic foot ulcer, the sixth sense device projects information that the leading cause of leg amputation is diabetes.

Such projected titbits will obviously motivate the patient to take better measures for tight blood sugar control.

This blogpost on sixth sense is a great way to start blogging in 2010! It is an exciting technology to watch out for and has potential to apply in pharmaceutical and medical field as described above. As of now, I am not aware of any work of sixth sense tech application in pharmaceuticals and healthcare or medical field. The above write-up is based on my grasp of sixth sense tech and my imagination taking over! Hope sixth sense tech makes its entry into medical and pharmaceutical field in a big way. It can be harnessed to accoutre pharma marketing efforts. Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down to read all others, click on older posts, to read other posts, and please do recommend my blog to your acquaintances.