Saturday, August 11, 2007

Healthcare DTC promotion through pharmacies (in-pharmacy activities)

The power of the Pharmacist

In India, sales in the Pharma market, is heavily influenced by the medical shop owners (also called chemist shops or Pharmacies). In fact, the alleged bane of the Indian Pharma Market is that Pharmacists behave more as traders, than healthcare professionals. Brand substitution and OTC (over-the-counter) push sales at medical shops or chemists for Schedule H and Schedule X drugs, is common. The Times of India, Bangalore edition, dated, 8.8.2007, in fact, highlighted this point. While one way of looking at it, is seeing the situation as regulatory challenge for implementation of The Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940; the other understanding is that this mirrors the reality that Indian Pharma market is OTX (a combination of prescription and over-the-counter). For Pharma marketers and the society, this scenario highlights the importance of the power of Pharmacies as healthcare providers.

Knock, knock, Hello There: there is another promotional avenue for Pharma and Healthcare companies here

Currently, Indian Pharma companies are obsessed with in-clinic product promotional activities. The doctor is at the center of the Pharma product promotional universe, due to a hyper thrust on ‘ethical promotional approach’ or product promotional approach to doctors only for prescription generation. This hyper focus has led to a scenario where the Pharmacist power to influence healthcare product consumption is UNGUIDED by Pharma companies. All that the Pharma companies do is give bonus offers or free goods or discounts or other freebies in a bid to address OTC PUSH (over-the-counter push) for Pharma products and get some brand substitution sales or this is done to avoid brand substitution cannibalization.


This overt and hyper focus on in-clinic activities and mere schemes or bonus offers to chemists is not in tune with the OTX character of the Indian Pharma market. The Pharmacist is like a huge powerful unguided force influencing consumption of healthcare goods. There are an estimated 3 lakh plus chemist retail stores in India. To rub salt on the wound, Pharma companies treat the chemist shop owners as traders and strengthen the trader mentality by offering even more bonus offers and schemes on medicines. It is left to the Pharmacist to ‘push medicines’.

Wake up to the DTC (direct-to-consumer) product promotional opportunity through the Pharmacist

The fact is that there is a void here in the Pharma chambers that can be filled up by introducing healthcare product promotional opportunities.

For eg: Vicks Vaporub, is a time honored product, in India, for management of cold and cough, particularly in babies, children and other family members. Out of the 3-lakh medical shops in India, let us say Vicks Vaporub marketers choose 50,000 shops, and create exciting in-pharmacy activities to attract and engage customers and prospects. The themes for in-pharmacy activities can be touch therapy, different ways of massage using Vicks Vaporub for effective action, and the Pharmacist would be only too happy to co-operate as this will strengthen the word-of-mouth publicity for his pharmacy and increase the footfalls to his pharmacy

The catchword is in-pharmacy activities

The catchword here is IN-PHARMACY ACTIVITIES to be conducted along with in-clinic activities to shore up the brand equity and sales of healthcare products.

Use the in-pharmacy product promotional approach for Revital

Revital from Ranbaxy is a topper Pharma brand (among the top 40) in India. Today, the product promotional approach for Revital is an exciting one based on the OTX nature of the Pharma market. While doctors are in the loop for product promotion of Revital, the end consumer is also targeted in the marketing communication activities. This is called the Rainbow Coalition strategy by them. This can be further bolstered through exciting in-pharmacy activities for Revital – through stress measurement interactive activities for patients etc.

In-pharmacy product promotional campaigns will be welcomed by Pharmacy chains

Indian retail scene is undergoing a revolution. Malls, and retail chains - unimaginable a decade back in India, are dotting the national retail landscape. The Indian Pharma field too is on the verge of being revolutionized by Pharmacy chains – Apollo, Trust, Medshop, Health and Glow, Pill and Powder, Reliance Wellness chain, Manipal Cure and Care, are some of the big names in this field.

What these Pharma retail chains are looking for, is to increase the footfalls, and this can only come by way of campaigns to excite target audiences and thus make them come over to the Pharmacy. They would more than welcome and partner campaigning activity by Pharma and Healthcare firms.

The KPO companies will be the catalysts for in-pharmacy activities

India is a great place for talented knowledge workers; this availability has led to the KPO (knowledge process outsourcing) revolution in India. Companies like Indegene and Bioquest are doing a great job by partnering with healthcare and Pharma companies to offer a better world. These KPO healthcare and marketing agencies can act as catalysts to the in-pharmacy product promotional revolution by seeding Pharma and Healthcare companies with this concept.

Recently, Nestle has launched the probiotic curd: NesVita

A classic case for an in-pharmacy product promotional approach can be Nestle’s Nesvita - the probiotic curd. In a pharmacy you would have a ready health-conscious target audience. So an attractive campaign for NesVita would be: the taste NesVita campaign and register your rating vote in the electronic taste vote machine. By registering a vote, get an introductory 5% discount coupon. This would certainly help create the buzz on the brand and help create a lifestyle based on using NesVita.

The marketing mix menu has expanded: please include in-pharmacy product promotion

The Pharma marketing mix has therefore expanded to include IN-PHARMACY promotion. The other elements of the Pharma marketing communication mix include in-clinic activities, in-stall activities (at trade shows) and media activities (print media and digital media). The IN-PHARMACY product promotional strategic approach is more important in India, and pharmacy chains would welcome such campaigns to increase foot falls to their outlets.

This is my 40th blogpost, put up from the neighbourhood cybercentre, on Saturday, 11.8.2007, and I request my readers to read all the blogposts including the older posts as they are worth it.


Shankar said...


Sunil S Chiplunkar said...

Thnks a lot for your encouraging words - do you have your profile on the web?

alok said...

thanks for the great information Quality Medical Transcription and Medical Billing Services

Aleem said...

Interesting read Mr. chilunkar, do you know any agencies that conduct such activities pan India?
-Aleem Merchant

Helen Jerson said...

Great article and helpful. Thanks for sharing. To avoid the undesirable scenario where contracts are simply awarded to the vendor who spends the most money entertaining and pampering the decision maker, many companies have policies on what can be accepted, both in terms of corporate hospitality, and in terms of promotional items.

Social Compliance Promotional Products


Great information Mr. Chiplunkar. Would be nice to have a chat with you on OTX Market.