Sunday, June 29, 2008


Here we see two photos of a LCD screen in a pharmacy (at Balaji Medicals, Bangalore at top, and Yasho Pharma, Bangalore at bottom) that informs patients, and helps in "in-store" advertising. A fellow Bangalorean - PRAVEEN JAIN (Click here) a chartered accountant by qualification, quit his high paying job at KPMG, and donned the role of an entrepreneur to found a firm emediagenie.

I met up with Praveen Jain in the recent past, and I found his high energy entrepreneurial drive very inspiring.

Praveen comes from a typical middle class to upper middle class background from Bangalore. His elder brother is a pharmacist. Praveen worked with KPMG as a consultant and has worked with VCs for about 40 deals. He honed his skills in working on the nitty gritty of business plans while at KPMG.

Then ... the entrepreneurial bug bit him!!

sitting casually with his brother in the pharmacy, he realized there was a potential to help marketers address the waiting patient population (at the counter) through something beyond danglers and posters - that are routine. He was on to something dynamic, contemporary, EXCITING, and engaging that would help patients, and at the same time boost sales of OTC (over-the-counter) and OTX (prescription plus over-the-counter) brands. The answer was a LCD SCREEN for "in-pharmacy" advertising.


Praveen no doubt, had a very good business idea and a high potential business concept. But it was one thing to conceive, but another thing to put the plan in to action ... as a profit making enterprise.

Praveen's experience at KPMG came in handy. He developed a very good database of chemists at Bangalore, then used a robust CRM software to maintain the database, and create his business plan. His CRM (customer relationship management) software is critical to his business operations, as it is updated constantly for ROI (return on investment) and is used for strategy development.

At first, Praveen found it difficult to convince potential advertisers to sign up, and chemists to agree to put up the LCD screen. He nevertheless persevered - initially through his contacts and his first LCD screen was at his brother's pharmacy.

Many small OTC brands warmed up to the idea, to begin with. Chemists who were at first skeptical, however, began to see the LCD screen as an ally to promote their store label and since the content was dynamic where in patients would get health tips and other useful information in the display, the idea was accepted, and the goodness of this concept spread word-of-mouth to other pharmacies too.

Internationally this idea is in vogue

In USA, Accent Health (a part of CNN) is into LCD based marketing communication, their area of focus is the patients' waiting room in clinics and hospitals. Globally, there are other operators in pharmacies like, Focus Media in China, Life Pharmacy in New Zealand, The Pharmacy Channel in UK and USA (which is the world's first and largest in the area of pharmacy screens), and Pharmacia in Italy.

ROI is the key

Praveen believes that it is imperative that he tracks the brand sales of advertised brands in pharmacies when it is advertised on his LCD screen. And this feedback is given to the advertisers to justify the ROI. The ad spend is well accounted for - and this is feeding the success of emediagenie. For eg., a diagnostic blood sugar aid as increased the sales by 8 to10 times after advertising. A small pain-massage oil brand has shown 3 to 5 times sales jump. Similarly, other brands have increased sales significantly. Pharmacies have found that this has added to the in-pharmacy atmospherics, they have gained through increased footfalls, and overall higher sales. In the current context of increased competition between pharmacies, audience engagement is very vital to increase the footfalls in pharmacies. emediagenie is helping pharmacies in this direction through novel advertorials like quizes for patients and the pharmacy providing the gifts to the winners, the winners photos being put up on the LCD screen etc. The sales data monitoring is constant and updated in Praveen's CRM software consistently. Belonging to the cyber savvy generation, Praveen has started using the CRM software from the word go and is a key component of his future business activities. Praveen has started building a digital nervous system in the activities of his enterprise.

Overall, Praveen's dalliance with marketing communication business is novel and is helping advertised brands through good growth in incremental sales and brand building. GREAT GOING PRAVEEN, BEST OF LUCK!! Praveen has successfully redefined point-of-purchase pharmacy advertising in India. For interested persons, Praveen's email id is:

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Monday, June 23, 2008


I got the above inspiring image from HERE.

Entrepreneurship is the major trend of our times in India, and the need of the hour too. Narayanmurthy, Chief Mentor, Infosys, an icon among entrepreneurs was asked recently on CNBC (Hindi) – what is better - capitalism or socialism? In his answer, he asked people to look beyond these ‘isms’ – his reflection was that entrepreneurship was the remedy to most of India’s socio-economic problems as entrepreneurship creates jobs and disposable income. This in turn helps drive a country’s economy, and helps solve socio-economic problems.

An interesting Pharma entrepreneur is MR. NITIN SHAH, from the land of entrepreneurs – GUJARAT. His company is UNISON PHARMACEUTICALS, VATVA, GUJARAT. Operating only in Gujarat, this small company has a sizeable turnover in Gujarat – about Rs. 20 crores to Rs. 24 crores per annum. However, what is creating a major sensation is that as per the market buzz, a special ORG IMS prescription survey was done in Gujarat recently, and the finding was most remarkable: Unison gets the largest number of prescriptions in Gujarat, and beats even Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK), traditionally GSK enjoys the highest no. of prescriptions in India.

There are some interesting insights from the way Unison operates. The basic feature of Mr. Nitin’s business model is that the pricing strategy is very pocket-friendly, and this encourages patient compliance, thereby winning the prescriber’s favor. For instance, Unison’s Nimesulide (I forget the brand name) is forty paise per tablet to the patient, their Amlodipine + Atenolol combination (a branded item) is seventy one paise per tablet only - to the patient, their calcium carbonate tablets (branded again) are just Rs. 1.50 per tablet to the patient, and this product has a retail offer of 30% too; doctors are happy to prescribe Unison’s products as they help generate value-for-money prescriptions, and this increases patients’ confidence and faith in the prescriber. Nowadays, patients are all too aware how prescribers favor brands in return for freebies or favors from companies. Hence, the erosion of trust between patient and prescriber is a very sensitive thing. Unison wins on this count.

Unison has a handsome sampling policy: each interested doctor gets a minimum sample pack of a month’s course of a product. Most of the products are sampled to the doctors. The gifts given out by Unison are not big ones – just the routine kind of stuff (like pens) that help build relationships with prescribers. The most amazing thing about Unison is that from places like Anand with population of just 1 to 1.5 lakh, the rupee yield is Rs. 4.0 lakhs to Rs. 5.0 lakhs per month per MR.

The really amazing stuff about Unison is yet to come

Mr. Nitin has appointed an old friend of his as the marketing co-ordinator. This gentleman transacts with the authorized stockists to obtain the primary orders, and receives the monthly stock and sales statements reflecting the secondary sales (from stockist to retailers). The MRs of Unison are instructed not to visit the stockists. They are advised to only meet the doctors and create the demand for the products. The secondary stock and sales statement information is available to the MR from the company. There are no sales targets for MRs - their job is only to promote aggressively! And the result is there for the Pharma industry to see!! Unison has the largest no. of prescriptions in Gujarat - more than even GSK!!!

Mr. Nitin is following a MR friendly man-management policy. He gives a good pay-packet, annual paid-vacation for the family, and good incentives too.

It does help that Mr. Nitin is a former successful MR himself. Now, just imagine the impact on healthcare in India, if you have a Unison type of company in every state of India!!

In fact, new resurgent India sees another phenomenon: many experienced MRs are getting on to the entrepreneurial bandwagon either through the propaganda-cum-distribution route or franchisee marketing route. As one MR said to me, today senior MRs are becoming directors directly. For instance, I met up with a MR of a small company, who was earning about Rs. 12,000 per month average. He then left the job and started franchisee marketing, and makes about Rs. 25,000 per month excluding Rs. 5000/-, which he spends on 'thanksgiving' gifts to prescribers.

Malvinder Singh is another ‘whos-who’ Pharma entrepreneur of India creating waves globally. It appears that one's approach to entrepreneurship or one's style of entrepreneurship is certainly influenced by genetics: Malvinder Singh’s decision to sell-off the promoter stake to Daiichi Sankyo is reminiscent of his grandfather’s (Bhai Mohan Singh), vice versa -decision to take-over Ranbaxy. As such, Ranbaxy was started by cousins Gurbax Singh and Ranjit Singh. Bhai Mohan Singh was the financier. Initially, Ranbaxy was a distributor for another Japanese company A Shionogi. (It is a curious coincidence to see the Jap connection again, where in Daiichi Sankyo is a Japanese company). When the cousins were in a financial bother, and unable to pay up their dues to Bhai Mohan Singh, the cousins suggested Bhai Mohan Singh may take control of the company in lieu of the dues. And Bhai Mohan Singh sensing a financial kill took over the company reins. Rest as they say is history. Bhai Mohan Singh’s illustrious son Dr. Parvinder Singh along with his committed team, took the company to great heights. Bhai Mohan Singh’s investment flowered even better. It appears Bhai Mohan Singh had great financial acumen, as can be evidenced from the fact, that Shri Bhai Mohan Singh was interested in even manufacturing and marketing consumer health care products like the toothpaste (considering that the national toothpaste market is Rs. 2500 crores per annum turnover market with Colgate having about half the market share, it would have been a good investment for Ranbaxy to enter in this domain too at that time). However, Dr. Parvinder Singh’s vision was clear, and that was to be focused on the pharmaceutical domain. Here we see two styles of entrepreneurship – while Bhai Mohan Singh’s style was focused on financials, Dr. Parvinder Singh, his son, was a technocrat – visionary. Malvinder Singh’s decision seems to be genetically inspired (!). Malvinder Singh has sensed a financial kill to reap a harvest (Rs. 10,000 crores is very big money), that may be inspired by his grandfather’s legacy; and Malvinder Singh through the decision to sell the promoter stake, has also ensured that Ranbaxy now scales even greater heights, and this may be inspired by his father’s legacy. The marriage between Daiichi Sankyo and Ranbaxy is a best-of-the-two-worlds match: generics plus innovator products.

All in all we observe two very interesting entrepreneurial stories above. Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down, click on OLDER POSTS, when required to read all other posts. Thanks. This blogpost is put up at 7.45 pm on 23.6.2008, from the friendly neighborhood cyber centre.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


The shock news of Ranbaxy sell out to Daiichi Sankyo is yet to sink in ... the pharma community is in a tizzy, do read the interesting EIGHT COMMANDMENTS OF DAIICHI SANKYO - BELOW!!! A new phase in Pharma India has begun...

Our Eight Commitments
To realize our corporate vision, as we keep our mission in mind, we have identified three directives for action and eight commitments that each member of the DAIICHI SANKYO Group should use as the basis for making proper value judgments.
The three directives for action are “aspiration for innovation,” “good faith,” and “enthusiasm.” “aspiration for innovation” is the wellspring of our being.
Also, “good faith” is a duty we must fulf ill, and “enthusiasm” is a quality our actions should have.
Based on these three directives for action, we have formulated eight commitments. When making judgments, each member of the DAIICHI SANKYO Group should go back to these three directives for action and eight commitments before embarking on a course of action.

Aspiration for Innovation “What We Are All About”
1.To create first-in-class and best-in-class drugs
2.To take a global perspective and respect local values
3.To have academic curiosity and foresight

Good Faith “Our Duty”
4. To provide high-quality medical information
5. To provide a stable supply of high-quality pharmaceutical products
6. To be a trusted medical partner

Enthusiasm “Our Culture”
7. To express a strong desire to achieve our goals
8. To act as professionals and demonstrate strong teamwork

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The sin economy and healthcare biz


Businessworld has been one of my favorite mags. The articles are superbly researched and always different. A breakthrough article has been published recently on the SIN ECONOMY (CLICK HERE). Briefly put, it refers to the at least Rs. 3 lakh crore (about 1/10th of Indian GDP) business involving marketing of products and services relating to intoxication (alcohol and tobaccoism), gambling, and sleaze. In India, the sin economy is about 1/10th of the GDP, while in USA it is just 1% of the 13.8 trillion dollar GDP.

Tobacco smoking and consumption is worth about Rs. 1,50,000 crores with 32% growth; ITC (makers of Gold Flake brand of cigarettes), sell 7 out of the 10 cigarettes in India, and ITC has shown 20% to 21% growth in sales and profits.

Alcohol (both country liquor and brands) consumption has an annual turnover of Rs. 11,401 crores. This biz is growing fast, beer shows 15% to 16% growth. DINK (double income and no kids) couples are driving the consumption. Alcohol czars are laughing all the way to the bank. United Breweries (of Bangalore, owning the Kingfisher brand – the beverage and airline brand) has trebled its profits in 2007 -2008.

Gambling is huge biz, satta (or matka) is popular during cricket matches. Online gambling businesses like Playwin has annual turnover of Rs. 2400 crores (this business arm dwarfs the other businesses of the group like Zee TV and packaging)

Sleaze refers to the illicit sex business, estimated to be Rs. 2000 crores per annum in turnover. There are estimated 30 lakh sex workers (40% being children), and the sleaze industry is estimated to show 40% to 45% growth.

So the conclusion is that the sin economy is a major trend and has wide implications for the healthcare businesses.

Smoking tobacco - a major health hazard. Smoking or consumption of tobacco orally as gutka or with paan is addictive. Consuming tobacco plays with the level of the neurotransmitters or chemicals of the nervous system (including the brain). Gives a sense of pleasure and the result is both physiological and psychological craving for the nicotine kick. The WHO has estimated that one third of the world smokes cigarettes. So that 's a CHAMPION market for you! (pun intended!!).

The trouble with alcohol is that first you take the drink, then the drink takes the drink, and finally the drink takes you (based on a Japanese proverb). Alcohol consumption with moderation are said to have benefits for the cardiovascular system. However, its addiction potential makes it a curse rather than manna. Alcoholism causes social problems (and remember, health is defined as a sense of physical, mental, and social well-being by WHO), and physically, alcoholism causes sluggish liver to fatty liver, then hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) and finally fibrosis of the liver or cirrhosis. Being the chief organ of detoxification, the LIVER is the first organ to bear the brunt of alcohol ill effects. Once the liver is affected, life force itself is affected. It is not without reason that the bard of Avon (William Shakespeare) referred to the liver as the seat of emotions. In fact, in Elizabethan times, it was said that the person who could not love had a weak liver.

Increased consumption of alcohol causes problems to the heart and blood vessels, and brain functions.

Both alcohol and cigarette smoking are anti-reproductive system. It is as if, nature does not want people to abuse these toxins. These repro-toxins cause low sperm count, reduce sperm motility, and cause erectile dysfunction. In females too the effects are devastating. Alcohol and tobaccoism are well known to cause cancer.

Thus, sin economy is boosting the healthcare businesses in India. The vast no. of healthcare problems due to intoxication (booze and tobacco), gambling (with its neuropsychiatry implications), and sleaze (causative of infections, and weakened immunity) are feeding the healthcare biz.

The SIN ECONOMY points to the vast potential for neuropsychiatry related pharma products and supplements

The iron grip of sin economy in Indian society points to the amazingly huge potential for neuropsychiatry products (both drugs and supplements). The sin economy is actually feeding on sadness, stress, anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia that are under-diagnosed and under-treated in India. In fact, the growth of the Indian sin economy can be stunted by market building marketing initiatives for neuropsychiatry products. (it won't be an exaggeration to say that the abuse of Corex is due to neuropsychiatric problems.) The sinonimics or the economics of sin product consumption can be replaced by consumption of herbal support products like ashwagandha and brahmi for management of mental stresses. Alcohol or smoking is not the answer for the mundane and extraordinary problems of life.


The use of yoga and other spiritual techniques to tackle the challenges of life is a part of spiritual economy. What Sri Sri Ravishankar and Swami Ramdev are doing, - are tackling the challenges to health and well-being through spiritual techniques. However, the adoption of spiritual techniques for management of life's challenges requires an evolved mindset. Popping health supplements or drugs will always have more adoption. So spiritual economy will have its place in the scheme of things but will not cannibalize the consumption of healthcare goods and services significantly.

Boom-Boom is the growth of healthcare economy

Estimates are that the Indian herbal healthcare market will reach Rs. 14500 crores in India by 2012, and the herbal exports will reach Rs. 9000 crores. Hence the herbal segment and wellness market is seeing a lot of action - Yash Birla is interested in the wellness market, Himalaya has launched its fourth SBU (Zera), to address the rural market (basically towns and villages below 5 lakhs population are under penetrated; rural refers to places equal or below 10,000 population), and the TATAs are in league with FRLHT and Dept. of Science and Technology to strengthen the herbal-yoga-Ayurveda healthcare stream. As per ORG IMS, till Dec 2007, the Indian pharma industry has grown to Rs. 31038 crores, Dec 2007 MAT, and the CAGR for four years works to 13%.


Simple, look at the balance sheets - RANBAXY has for year ending Dec. 2007, reported net income of Rs. 4778.30 crores with a profit before tax of Rs. 774 crores and profit after tax of Rs. 617.72 crores; BIOCON for the year ending March 2008 (FY 2007 - 2008) reported net sales Rs. 1090.20 crores, with profit of Rs. 463.91 crores!

Now look at the balance sheet of a very respected automobile parts company SUNDARAM FASTENERS (this company is a part of the highly disciplined and high profile TVS group), it has net sales of Rs. 1207.70 crores and profit before tax of Rs. 102 crores and profit after tax of Rs. 69.50 crores.


Thanks for reading this blogpost. Hope you liked it. Please do read all other blogposts by scrolling down and clicking on OLDER POSTS wherever required.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mirror, mirror, which is the trendiest of the trends today?

I got the above very funny image from HERE. Marketers love mirrors! Not just to gaze at themselves, you see - many marketers are narcissists (!), marketers look out for articles and reports that MIRROR trends in markets. It is important to peg new products, product launches, and promotional approaches in line with the market trends for best success. That is why marketers love mirrors!

The weak LES trend

This is an elaboration on an interesting patho-physiological trend. Obesity (particularly abdominal obesity), overconsumption of caffeinated beverages, increased consumption of alcoholic beverages, smoking, excessive indulgence in carbonated or fizzy drinks, over eating - particularly fatty foods, eating and drinking splurges, spicy foods, eating food and drinking milk just before sleeping, sedentary life, increased mental tensions ... all these have led to this peculiar weak LES trend today in society (in both emerging markets and the mature markets - of the advanced countries). It is no wonder that the hottest pharma markets are related to GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease), indigestion (or dyspepsia), and heartburn. In India, about 25% of the pharma market is the gastrointestinal related market, and the market for acid-peptic diseases is significant.

LES stands for lower esophageal sphincter or cardiac sphincter. This is a circular smooth muscle located between the lower esophagus (or food pipe) and the stomach. The LES plays a very important role, it prevents the regurgitation or backflow of acidic contents of the stomach in to the alkaline environment of the esophagus. If the LES is weak, obviously, the gastric or stomach contents return back in to the esophagus, chronic weakening of LES leads to heartburn, gastro intestinal reflux disease, Barrett's esophagus, and esophageal cancer. The other complications of GERD include chronic cough, asthma, inflammation of the larynx or voice box, respiratory tract infections, esophageal obstruction, esophageal bleeding, esophageal inflammation, presence of blood in stools, difficulty in swallowing, gallstones, ear pain and lung disease.

So for pharma marketers and healthcare activists the weak LES is an opportunity area.

The doctor as a disease manager

This is an interesting twist to the doctor's traditional role as a healer. The market savvy doctor is all too aware of the empowerment process in society thanks to the increasing media power, and the information technology revolution (mainly the internet). Thus, the sagacious doctors are reinventing themselves as disease managers. The doctors not only provide their inputs via prescriptions or surgery, but they also suggest alternative therapies or Yoga themselves or refer the interested patients to Yoga or Reiki or Ayurveda practitioners. Ultimately, this increases the doctor's role as a health care counselor, improves the doctor's image with the patients and enhances his or her practice. Many trend savvy doctors run Yoga or Ayurveda camps on specific days in their nursing homes. Certain gynecologists and obstetricians themselves teach Yoga to pregnant ladies or refer them to the Yoga practitioners. Thus, doctors profit through such wellness clinics. Doctors are redefining themselves and repositioning themselves as disease and wellness managers rather than mere allopathic or ayurvedic practitioners, giving out prescriptions, or conducting surgeries. In fact, certain market savvy doctors have taken a leaf from Swami Ramdev's notebook and are also positioning themselves as lifestyle experts ....

Lifestyle expertise trend

Swami Ramdev is having an amazing run. His pranayama - Yoga - Ayurveda and lifestyle programs on TV are beamed to 150 countries (not just 125 as I had mentioned in my earlier post), his TV audience is perhaps 200 crores. Money is pouring in to his trust for strengthening his activities for the benefit of mankind. Another Yoga teacher from near Delhi - Lalji Maharaj, is following the model of Swami Ramdev.

What do the successes of Swami Ramdev and Lalji Maharaj reflect? The answer is that there is an innate need in society for a healthy and trendy lifestyle. Individuals or organizations satisfying this need for a healthy and trendy lifestyle are gaining an iconic status. So it is clear that marketers and healthcare activists can take note of the hunger for a healthy and trendy lifestyle in society.

Packaging as a differentiator and tool for market success

With product establishment becoming tougher and reinventing or rebooting the product life cycle becoming a necessity, packaging is gaining traction as a differentiator, a tool for reinventing products and product categories, and ensure continued market success. For eg., Zip Pak the resealable packaging technology pioneers and leaders talk of their packaging as a tool for shelf differentiation, perception of product freshness, enhanced consumer convenience, ensuring brand preference, and enhancing brand consumer loyalty. In fact, the vocabulary of packaging is now more oriented towards marketing rather than protection of inner contents and having a production department orientation. Riding on this wave of packaging as a differentiator and tool for market success are companies like Juggat Pharma (pharma division of Jagdale Industries Ltd., Bangalore), who pioneered the presentation of electrolyte energy drinks in aseptic technology Tetra Pak for the first time in prescription market, and have created a product category. Today, this company ( is an expert leader in this field and is contract manufacturing electrolyte energy drinks to interested pharma companies. Such is the power of packaging as a tool for differentiation and market success.

Such interesting trends are helping companies and individuals win in the marketplace. Thanks for reading this blogpost. There is a very interesting BLOGPOST HERE (ON POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE). I suggest you read this blogpost too. Please scroll down to read all other blogposts (by clicking on older posts when necessary). Thnks once again.