The first set of articles around marketing and branding had focused on the universal concepts and principles of marketing derived mainly from the FMCG environment and practice. The last article narrowed things down to applying these universal practices and precepts to the pharmaceutical marketing and industry.
The major thrusts of the last article were:
The pharmaceutical environment is different, in terms of consumer as decision maker and payer, brand loyalty, government regulations, research and development and price elasticity.
While the patient is at the centre, his or her need varies considerably; even his or her needs are decided by HCPs who are in turn influenced by science, current practices, marketing efforts of pharmaceutical firms, as well as their personal and professional needs.
Selling pharmaceuticals is characterised by HCPs as customers, instead of end-users, and every “customer” is different.
Needs were originally in terms of clinical, pharmacological and pharmacokinetics but have been extended to include patient lifestyle, quality of life and personal needs.
Now, let’s get moving forward
Recall that market segmentation was defined as the process that companies use to divide unwieldy/large, heterogeneous markets into small markets, based on their needs, characteristics, or behaviour and such that they can be reached more efficiently and effectively with products/services that match their unique needs and marketing mixes.
In pharmaceutical marketing, the same principle applies, driven in this case by:
All doctors and patients are not identical.
Patients’ response to same drug could be different, based on perceived side effects, cost, dosage regiment, off label indications.
Doctors’ attitudes to various aspects of clinical/pharmaceutical responses and collateral effects of drugs differ significantly.
The major dimensions of pharmaceutical market segmentation include:
Indications – as if the drug is to be used for long-medium term management of chronic diseases and situations or for short/acute situations
Patient profile – this can be based on ethnic background and or demographic parameters
Severity of illness
Physicians type – for instance , specialist versus GPs, hospital versus private.
Patient’s economic status
Route of administration. That is, dosage forms like injectables, oral, suppository, etc.
Targeting and positioning.
In the earlier discussion, market targeting was described as the process of evaluating each market segment’s attractiveness with a view to selecting one or more segments to enter or focus on. After deriving the segments, tools and consideration for market targeting include:
Sustainable competitive advantage
Evaluation of current and future resources
Product life cycle
Sales force capability
In house talent pool
Positioning, which is based on product attributes, real and perceptual, is the most important job of a marketer, as this is the first message that goes outside! Wrong positioning leads to wrong message and a cascading effect all the way down to a flop! Once a pharmaceutical product-positioning decision is made, it is not easy to shift. In fact, you should avoid this, unless you have a new indication, scientifically proven and widely accepted.
In arriving at pharmaceutical product-positioning, these questions need to be answered:
What is the licensed-indication/categorisation by NAFDAC?
What is the market size?
Are there different therapeutic segments to cover?
Is there a prevalence for indicated conditions and is the market size derived from this?
How many physicians are in this area?
What does the SWOT/competition analysis say? Is the market crowded? Will it grow?
What is the patent protection status?
How does its USP compared to other products?
Can clinical trials result/outcome support the message?
What value of resources will be required to make impact and succeed?
Can we prove/convince authority/doctors to approve/adopt the use of the product? In the pharmaceutical market, a product with undefined MOA is very difficult to sell!
Product positioning tools for pharmaceutical products include but not limited to:
Dosage form – whether it’s in the form of injection, tablets, syrup, suppository, etc. This factor has implication on onset of action, compliance, portability, etc.
Regime of dosing – Where possible, the less the frequency of use, the better the compliance and clinical outcome.
Drug delivery/technology – for instance, sustained release technology can be used to reduce frequency of dosing and hence compliance
MOA: Clear, scientific and proven mode of action is often a strict requirement in the medical and pharmaceutical circles. Drugs with uncertain mode of action don’t command respect and acceptance
Drug-Drug interactions: The less effect on other therapeutic agents, especially commonly used drugs and those specific to the disease situation, the better for confidence and predictability of outcomes.
Side-effects and overall safety profile.
Safety in children and pregnant women.
Packaging and physical presentation, especially for premium products.
Onset of Action
Tunde Oyeniran, a Sales/Marketing Strategist, Selling/Sales Management Trainer and Personal Sales Coach is the Lead Consultant, Ekini White Tulip Consulting Limited, Lagos. We deliver Training, Recruitment, Online Medical Communications Service and Field Force Management Solutions. Feedback Channels: 080-2960-6103 (SMS/WhatsApp) / firstname.lastname@example.org or check out https://fb.me/EkiniWhiteTulipConsulting