Sunday, January 30, 2011

The "GADGETIZATION" phenomenon


Dec 2010 and Jan 2011 were hectic due to organizing activities and participation in three trade stall activities viz., ASICON 2010, Delhi; AICOG 2011, Hyderabad and PEDICON 2011, Jaipur. The three events were for surgeons, obstetricians and gynaecologists, and paediatricians respectively. The events were as usual, well organized, with ASICON and AICOG setting new benchmarks of organization. Pedicon was at a very artistically attractive venue. Doctors too were very enthusiastic and the indication is that doctors are getting very professional particularly because there is a lot of competition between doctors unlike in the 80s or 90s and earlier, where doctors enjoyed monopoly markets. Today, corporate hospitals too are competing to offer medical services.

During my journey back to Bangalore from Jaipur (post Pedicon 2011) I had an interesting conversation with Dr. Deepak, Paediatrician. This young and feisty doctor practices in a rural setting. He has a high achievement orientation and ever hungry for knowledge. What is interesting is his adaptability to usage of IT concepts and gadgets in his practice.

Conversationally he said that his talk at PEDICON, Jaipur was on use of smartphones and gadgets to become a SMART PAEDIATRICIAN! Imagine this talk is not from a person of a tech savvy city like Bangalore, but from a paediatrician of a rural place ie., Tarikere (Shimoga district). This place is a town in Shimoga dist. Dr. Deepak has a 120 bed hospital here and a well established practice.

His office practice is IT enabled. All patients have a no. and this helps access their EMR (Electronic Medical Record). In fact, he provides Rx to his patients only through e-mail and as printout from his computer printer. He has a smartphone and uses the same to be the SMART PAEDIATRICIAN that he espouses.

Dr. Deepak THE 'SMART PAEDIATRICIAN' (above) at his office (with his gadgets, including his smartphone below!)

Today, it is impossible to function without electronic gadgets. Unfortunately, we at pharma (barring the big pharma companies) are yet to lap use of gadgets with aplomb. Gadgets bring in transparency, maintain records of transactions, and increase efficiency and effectiveness significantly.

Gadgets can help deliver information of value instantly to strengt
hen marketing communication. Gadgets can help in branding with a hi-tech and hi-touch concept. Gadgets can boost MR performance during in-clinic and in-chemist activity. For eg., a palmtop can track goods available at a chemist store, distributor premises and instantly provide the information to the company server at another location. The most interesting gadget in modern day marketing is the Tablet PC - portable and packed with info it can be used as a communication tool.

Above is a pix of the tablet PC.

Many things in life have a ripple impact. There is no directly visible cause and effect phenomenon. For eg., a scientific product newsletter seems to be a simple activity. However, when it is distributed in the market among target doctors, there is a buzz created that enhances consumption of products. These gadgets too will have such an impact.

In the coming days, conformity pressure, sales pressures from gadget manufacturers, need for trendy marketing communication devices in the market and an environment with rich use of gadgets - all this will lead to increased "GADGETIZATION" in society. In fact, in PRACTICAL PEDIATRICS UPDATE 2011 organized by a leader paediatric website, ie., a session is being devoted to smartphones and gadgets for pediatric practice.

To make gadgets a part of one's professional life, adaptability is required. Gadgets are becoming a necessity today.

Organizational culture tidbit

OCTAPACE principle:

O openness
C confrontation
T trust
A autonomy
P proaction
A authenticity
C collaboration
E experimentation

Thanks, get Gadget Savvy, scroll down to read all other blogposts, and click on older posts for reading other posts.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thinking cap marketing!

Today's competitive market conditions call for only for one form of marketing!



Tablets in aluminum strip foil

Tablets in blister strip packaging

Tablets in Alu-Alu packaging


Milk bottle

Milk in sachets

Milk in Tetra Pak packages


Marketing breakthroughs: this is what every company is on the hunt for! All companies are continuously working at creating marketing breakthroughs. The traditional pharma method is to invent new molecules: Atorvastatin and sildenafil citrate (Viagra) were such marketing breakthroughs for Pfizer. Marketing breakthroughs can come from various other concepts too. Even the unique shape of a tablet can create a breakthrough for a pharma marketer!

Marketing breakthroughs in pharmaceuticals can come from new generics with better therapeutic benefit or improved convenience (like Cifran OD ie., ciprofloxacin once daily)(a novel drug delivery system) or they can also come from improved convenient packagings. This can in fact 'reboot' the market for the product.

Milk (a nonpharmaceutical product) is an interesting example, which started off in cans. Then came the milk bottles for retailing milk, this was next replaced by plastic sachets ... and now Tetra Pak packages are making inroads in to the milk retailing market.

If a company can help invent or visualize the NEXT big thing ... then the company has a marketing breakthrough on its hands.

There are two ways of marketing: One is the ME-TOO approach. If a there is a successful brand of a generic, then avid pharma marketers launch me-too brands and take a share of the cake! In fact, in a protected market where the product patent was not applicable, and it was more of a seller's market, such an approach was OK, it made business sense and people made good money too!!

Now the market picture has changed with increased commoditization of pharmaceutical brands. Talking points are copy cat points, there are no real brand USPs (Unique Selling Prepositions) to differentiate pharma brands in a convincing way. Emotive differentiation too has limitations, prescribers are not easily won over today!!

So which way out?

The only way out is creating marketing breakthroughs in products. Something that truly differentiates the pharma brand from the clutter on the chemist shelves; products that can get a mindshare very easily from target prescribers.

Marketing breakthroughs need not mean new molecules, they can also represent new packagings or new ways of representing the product or new dosage formulations ... so on.

Thinking cap marketing

So what is required is a lot of thinking cap marketing across the organization to help create marketing breakthroughs!! Today only ' thinking cap marketing' works in the pharma industry!! AMEN!!

Thnks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down and click on older posts for reading all other posts!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My scientific poster at 62nd IPC, Manipal

Pharmacists in India are treated to an annual feast of pharmaceutical science, lectures, technology, and envisioning process, thanks to the concept of IPC (Indian Pharmaceutical Congress). This year, IPC was at Manipal, Karnataka.

IPC @ Manipal has warm memories for me. During the 42nd IPC, Manipal, I had not only won the second prize in the National Elocution Contest, I had also presented a paper on management. (In fact, I have represented Karnataka during my Final B Pharm, 1st Year M Pharma and 2nd Year M Pharma ie for 3 years, in the National Elocution Contest @ IPC and won the second prize twice!).

This year too, I was eager to do my 'bit' - remotely or in situ, since the IPC was at Manipal (in our own state of Karnataka, and that too at a place where I have very warm memories of IPC. Morever, our family roots are in Udupi district (Durga village, Karkala Taluk). So Manipal which is at Udupi dist., has an emotional bond with me too!!).

Accordingly, I registered as a delegate of the 62nd IPC, Manipal where I incidentally got the first registration no., and I submitted a scientific poster (seen atop). The poster was on BRAND FORTIFICATION STRATEGIES used in Pharmaceutical Marketing. The idea was to bring out the techniques used to strengthen brands in pharma marketing, since today, brands are very important assets (recollect that Piramal Healthcare sold 350 brands and just 1 manufacturing plant at Baddi for a whopping Rs. 17000 crores - to Abbott.).

Some philosophy

It is vital that pharma professionals participate wherever possible in such knowledge exchange events, either through attendance, presentations, posters, talks etc simply because knowledge exchange leads to furtherance of knowledge and strengthens the environment of pharmaceuticals.

The philosophy is that we are all fundamentally, 'children of the environment'. If the environment is rich in resources - systems - knowledge, fostering creativity, and providing impetus for individual achievements, then each person stands to benefit. Many ask, why is it that Indians succeed in America? Whereas in India, the Indian will be mediocre. The main reason is the environment - the opportunities and inputs that the American environment provides, creates successful Indians. Hence, it is in the best interests of all people that we endeavor to create an 'enabling environment'.

Since every drop counts to make an ocean, I put in my bit through registration as a delegate and a scientific poster.

The 62nd IPC @ Manipal, Karnataka was a stupendous success in terms of methodical glitch-free organization and excellent facilities. CONGRATS TO THE ORGANIZERS OF THE 62ND IPC,Manipal.

Research involves collection of data, analyzing the same (quantitatively like using statistical methods, and qualitatively), doing some experiments (testing hypothesis or seeing for repeatability). Research in fact, is not an 'ivory tower' type of activity. The practice of research methods is possible for one and all. Surely a research oriented work culture is about being scientific and inventive. Research is not something abstract. Research and development or innovation can be a part and parcel of every professional's life.