Sunday, February 25, 2007

Value marketing in healthcare and pharma

Peter Drucker the father of modern management science, always exhorted management professionals to ask oneselves the ‘fundamental questions’:

1) What is our business?
2) Who is the customer?
3) What is of value to the customer?
4) What will our business be?
5) What should our business be?

It is all interconnected!

Today in the ‘global village’, where the information float is collapsing and connectivity is changing the way we gain access to healthcare; its about time to revisit the above fundamental questions. In India institutions like Narayana Hrudayalaya are redefining healthcare: they have adopted telemedicine in a big way to deliver fine diagnosis to far off states like Assam. Hospitals like Wockhardt and Manipal are cashing on the medical tourism boom with fantastic patient centric experiences. Trends like ‘hospotels’ are happening – where hospitals offer fine cuisine cum wellness experiences for patients and care takers. Forget sickness management; there is a momentum towards hospitals becoming wellness centers. The movers and shakers of the Indian healthcare world like Ms. Sangeeta Reddy ED of Apollo Hospitals are talking about re-engineering the healthcare system to move from an illness-based model to a wellness-based model.

The services sector is vibrant

Another major trend in the global society is the emergence of the services economy in contrast to the product led economy. The services economy is the most vibrant part of the economy and one cannot just afford to overlook it. We should remember that every product driven company is realizing that the economy is increasingly becoming a services led economy. For instance, companies like IBM have mapped and are appreciating that corporate strategy should take in to account the major global shift from products driven to a services driven strategy. Hence to draw more value, mingling services with a product driven strategy for companies is inevitable. After all it is clear that ultimately a consumer is looking for value and the best of value can be delivered through a blend of products and services.

So how can typical pharma companies exploit and offer better value to doctors and patients in the above scene?

To further examine the possibility of blending products with services for a better value offering to prospects and customers, let us examine the healthcare continuum: on one end we have R & D – research focused on NDDS (Novel Drug Delivery Systems) and NCEs (New Chemical Entities). Then we have companies that are in to manufacture and /or marketing of generics. These pharma manufacturing firms may be in to manufacturing of bulk drugs or formulations or both. In the services side we have wellness centers, ayurvedic holistic healing centers, clinics, nursing homes, diagnostic centers, hospitals, insurance services and specialty centers.

Today most typical pharma firms operate in certain segments of the healthcare continuum described above. Merck excels in R & D plus marketing. Merck may outsource much of its manufacturing too. Similar is the Pfizer business model. Many typical Indian companies excel in offering generics of high quality at an economical price. In terms of research they are in the back streets. Now are pharma companies versatile enough to expand their presence to other segments of the healthcare continuum? If they are, then they are in a better position to offer augmented value to prospects and customers. Such pharma companies also have the potential to CREATE AN ECOSYSTEM of healthcare where in they can offer value added services and products for better quality revenues and stronger brand equity. Yes, there are atleast two such strategically positioned superior value pharma companies in the Indian milieu: WOCKHARDT & HIMALAYA.

Let us take up the interesting case of Wockhardt (– a pharma major ranked in the top 20 firms of Indian pharma industries. This company markets antihypertensives, antidiabetics including insulin, antibiotics and nutritional supplements. Wockhardt is regarded as a high quality manufacturer and an innovative and aggressive pharma biogenerics marketing company. Interestingly, along with substantial exports & domestic business, Wockhardt, has a string of high quality corporate hospitals. This company excels in healthcare manufacturing and marketing of products and services. This is where some corporate planning can consciously create a blend of products and services; thereby create a WOCKHARDT HEALTHCARE ECOSYSTEM and thus add value to prospects and customers (both doctors and patients).

Here are some approaches to this winning combination of products and services from the WOCKHARDT HEALTHCARE ECOSYSTEM:

1) Develop and expand in to a chain of Wockhardt retail stores offering pharma-healthcare goods-sport & fitness equipment-wellness products
2) These stores should also have an association with the Wockhardt corporate hospitals
3) Wockhardt corporate hospitals currently have a sickness focused business model – move to the preventive and wellness concept
4) Develop Wockhardt spas, massage wellness centers and other wellness concepts
5) Expand in to top class diagnostic and clinical facilities – Wockhardt diagnostic labs
6) Setup special paediatric centers of Wockhardt for vaccination and other value added services
7) Encourage doctors and patients to patronize the Wockhardt retail, diagnostic, hospital – wellness centers as part of the Wockhardt’s extended augmented healthcare delivery system – the Wockhardt healthcare ecosystem
8) Offer interesting schemes like the ‘antibiotic assurance scheme’ (detailed as follows) -
a) Analyse how many times a year a person may want an antibiotic course per year (may be 6 times a year in the worst cases?) to compute the nominal premium
b) Corporates and other individuals can register to this scheme
c) Thus, if an employee of a corporate or a registered member (who has a card) gets a prescription for a Wockhardt antibiotic brand the member can get a course of the antibiotic for free (since he has paid the nominal annual premium upfront or the cardholder’s employer company has paid the antibiotic assurance premium). Of course, this scheme is open to the prescriptions generated from Wockhardt hospital doctors and may be the prescriptions be filled only at predesignated hospitals/pharmacies.
d) Alternatively, the member can enjoy massive discounts on purchase of the antibiotic
e) The major benefit for Wockhardt is that it can avoid brand substitution, which is a major problem in the antibiotic segment as there is cut throat competition in this market. Further, this will foster full compliance to an antibiotic prescription and this will result in better purchases. Moreover the ripple effect in strengthening of the corporate and brand equity of Wockhardt is invaluable.
9) Develop branded (using umbrella branding concept) ‘Wellness products’ from Wockhardt that can be taken up for exclusive OTX promotion (ie promotion to doctors, chemists, and end users). This will enhance the value of purchases in the Wockhardt healthcare ecosystem.

All in all, the above WOCKHARDT HEALTHCARE ECOSYSTEM will help develop greater value for the company WOCKHARDT and the consumer.

Thus, in the hectic Indian pharma scene, one more front opens up: A HYBRID OFFERING OF PRODUCTS AND SERVICES for better value delivery to the customer.

(- Sunil S Chiplunkar, Marketing Manager, Himalaya Zindel division, Bangalore. Mob. 9980800023) (this post is dedicated to VINT CERF, VP of Google and one of the founders of the Internet. VINT has said that information sharing is important ie the open source concept. This (WOCKHARDT) HEALTHCARE ECOSYSTEM concept is my open source concept dedicated to Vint Cerf).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

M - detailing: Narendran's tactical innovation

M – detailing: Narendran’s tactical innovation

Innovation in business circles is not just a buzzword. This is a strategic imperative in a globalized world. The focus on a culture of innovation is such that there are innovation councils and even VPs leading innovation in a company.

Innovation is a continuous process. Innovation has become the key to success. Innovation is in the form of design, delivery, packaging, and implementation and so on. Given below is an example of a native tactical innovation by Narendran - the second line manager for Karnataka and Goa with Juggat Pharma, Bangalore.

Narendran has a 6600 Nokia mobile phone. With this great device one can talk, take snaps, see small movie clips, record voice and moving pictures, mms, sms, bluetooth…. Narendran’s inventiveness is in using this tool to enhance communication during his doctor calls and thereby increase the in – clinic effectiveness. Narendran uses his mobile tactically to show short product movie clips to doctors during in clinic calls. It is if you like m – detailing. Narendran uses this mobile to record short feedbacks from doctors (as they talk to him) and after taking their permission, uses this recording to influence the prescribing behaviors of other doctors (by replaying the recordings). Narendran takes snaps of competitor products, competitor promotional literature (sends these to his superiors at HO) and Narendran plans his follow up on overdue payments, all with his mobile. As such, Narendran’s 6600 mobile phone is much more than a tool to keep in touch or follow up with his reportees on sales, field activity and collection (of payments from stockists) – Narendran’s mobile is also a valuable and influential product promotional tool.

The above is classic innovation – necessity being the mother of inventiveness. This culture of tactical innovation helps Narendran stay ahead in the market place. And this is not a company provided mobile – it is his personal one.

The focus of businesses as is well known and perhaps a cliché is to provide value to customers. Innovation gives a window of opportunity to provide this. Innovation creates killer apps (applications); innovation helps create CATEGORY KILLER PRODUCTS. For eg. Hero Honda in India with their 4 stroke engine motorbikes achieved just that. They created a category and killed the market for other competitor two stroke bikes. Marati Udyog did just that with their flagship car brand Maruti 800. Even to this day it is the darling of masses in India. Merck is having a CATEGORY KILLER in its hands today – the Gardasil vaccine. In Texas it is already a mandatory vaccine for girls of 12 to 13 years as the three injection shot Gardasil protects girls from cervical cancer. Thus delivering value to customers through innovative ‘category killer’ products can create multi billion dollar products for businesses.

Wipro, the Indian software major, has made innovation a part of its company DNA. Wipro in fact has a dedicated innovation council and believes that if you don’t constantly improve, you constantly fall behind. Innovation is every body’s job at Wipro.

Today product driven companies are realizing that services are booming businesses. Hence to deliver value to customers and realize better revenues, more and more companies are mingling products with services. Ultimately companies have to focus on customer value and this is possible for product-oriented companies through a ‘hybrid of products and services’ in its value delivery process. And if product oriented companies have to blend services in its value delivery process, they better put on their green creative caps for some innovative action.

In the pharma field, value delivery process to doctors is mainly through MRs. However, it should be realized that the web and mobile are ubiquitous devices of connectivity with the medical fraternity; the web and mobile are certainly the future theatres of communication between pharma companies and target doctors. The contemporary vistas of communication in the pharma field are:

a) MRs and their support tools (visual aids, tablet PCs, leave behind sheets and so on)
b) Print media: advts. and sponsored articles in journals, magazines etc
c) Web 2.0: e mail marketing communication activity, eMR concept, blogs, message boards, e newsletters etc
d) Mobile phone based marketing communication activity: m – marketing, sms marketing, m – detailing and so on
e) CMEs, group meetings, seminars, conference promotion (in-stall activity) etc

A market savvy pharma company will obviously use all of the above vistas. After all, how will you communicate with a noted doctor like Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty or his team members – it is a Herculean task for MRs to meet such doctors regularly.

Clearly the need of the hour is constant innovation in all spheres of activities of a pharma company. Particularly in a globalised world this is all the more vital as disruptive forces operate @ speed of thought. And Narendran has shown the way through his tactical innovation – enriching in-clinic activity through his mobile-based m-detailing product promotion. That’s the way to go Narendran – keep it up.

(This blog post is dedicated to Narendran, ASM (second line manager), Juggat Pharma, Bangalore his mobile no. is 98458 27120.)

This is Sunil S Chiplunkar, mob. 9980800023, Marketing Manager, Himalaya Drug Company, Bangalore writing this blog post at

Sunday, February 4, 2007

M – marketing is here!

In my earlier post the exciting e MR post was talked about. We saw how web 2.0 has the potential to add significant value to the marketing communication processes.

Today with convergence technologies gaining momentum, the mobile phone is transforming the way we talk over phone, send across data; we can sms, mms, take digital snaps, listen to music, access internet, watch tv (?), use it as an organizer..the mobile phone is a multiple function device. In fact, a new front is opening up – MOBILE COMMERCE. One is expected to use the mobile as a money transfer device too. So can the concept of m – marketing be far behind?!

As per the Economic Times dated 3.2.2007, the mobile phone is developing in to a great market for value added services. As per Zinnov a US based consultant agency, the mobile based value added industry is set to grow from 50 million USD in 2006 to a whopping 10 billion USD by 2009!

MOBILE MUSIC: India is key market for mobile music. The mobile music today chiefly comprises of RINGTONES, CALLER TONES AND MUSIC CLIPS. These show 40 to 50 % growth. The next wave of growth in the mobile music sub segment is expected to come from MUSIC GREETINGS AND SONG DOWNLOADS. 2007 is expected to be a watershed year for mobile music.

MOBILE GAMING: In 2007, mobile gaming is seeing some great interest. By 2009, it is estimated 78.6 million people will be in to mobile gaming. A CAGR of 118% is foreseen in the mobile gaming market in the next two years. There are estimated 50000 game downloads at a price point of Rs. 49/-. The games may come down to Rs. 5/- per download.

Market surveys estimate India will add 140 to 150 million handsets in 2007.

M – marketing in pharma:

Let us imagine we take up m – marketing for COREX (the leader pharma brand of Indian pharma industry). COREX is a decades old brand from Pfizer indicated mainly for dry cough as it contains the anti tussive codeine phosphate. There is logic in applying m – marketing to COREX, since the bulk of mobile value added services users are GenNext doctors. One of the most important needs for an old brand is to introduce the brand to newer target markets in a contemporary way and do some market development. COREX via m-marketing is an ideal brand candidate for such an approach and thereby strengthen its market value.

The approaches for m – marketing for COREX are given below:

1) the field force collects signed consent forms from the doctor, along with target doctor’s mobile number, birth date and marriage anniversary date, (consent to participate in the 9 month m – marketing campaign).
2) The MR/PSR thanks the doctor for agreeing to participate and explains that at 8.00 pm every Friday for 9 months (ie approx. 36 times in the campaign), the doctor will be a recipient of some value added service, courtesy COREX. The doctor will have an option to disable the campaign if he or she wants to.
3) Every Friday at 8.00 pm, the COREX message enters the doctor’s mobile phone.
4) Let us say the first message is ‘GREETINGS FROM COREX. Here is a great joke….Thanks for reading. Goodnight from COREX’
5) Imagine on the doctor’s birthdate, the doctor gets a COREX SMS BIRTHDAY GREETING AND A GREAT MUSIC DOWNLOAD. COREX sings ‘Happy Birthday to you …Goodnight doctor. Thanks from COREX’.
6) Getting serious, COREX can even give a quick research update in the respiratory field at 8.00 pm on a particular Friday.
7) COREX can offer medical tit bits that will be of value to the doctor.
8) COREX can offer on different Fridays, free caller tones, free ring tone downloads, free mobile games downloads…
9) Besides the freebies, COREX can conduct opinion polls on a medical aspect in the respiratory field, on one Friday and publish the results the next Friday.
10) COREX can even conduct a sms based contest on the respiratory field and offer attractive prizes by courier/through the PSR to the winner doctor.

The mobile marketing communication initiative is a yet another front in the pharma Marketing Manager’s marketing mix. It sound exciting isn’t it?

(I dedicate this post to my close friend and a guy I admire a lot: Mr. Vivek Balse, a very senior PSR with Pfizer at Mysore HQ. By the way guys, I have a new mobile no. now: 9980800023)