I got the above interesting image of HIV vaccines (Indo-Jap collaboration) from here.
After completing a century of blogposts, here is my 101st blogpost! The focus is on the vaccines market in this blogpost.
As things stand now, the highly commoditized vaccine market of India is a pure doctor-centric business. The main focus is on pediatricians and and to a lesser extent, the GPs. Global majors and Indian companies who manufacture and market vaccines are in a sort of conundrum - although the potential is very high (India is the largest human vaccines market), thanks to the population and the demographic picture of India, commodity vaccines sell more than the unique ones and there is a high cost of sale. The leader Indian companies not only supply vaccines (veterinary, poultry, and human) to the Indian market, they are leaders in export too. The global vaccines market is estimated to be about 10 billion USD, and growing in double digit figures.
Marketing vaccines is mostly a freebie based CRM approach. The focus is on pediatricians and loading the target doctor with as much vaccines stock as possible based on a lot of freebies like a free refrigerator, or free goods along with sales stock. This will block the entry of other competitor vaccine products or brands for some time at the concerned doctor clinic. The normal practice is for the doctor to administer the vaccines from the stock he or she has. The practice of giving prescriptions for specific vaccine brands is rare. So the vaccine marketing concept is doctor-centric. In case, the doctor does not stock the vaccine. It is the adjoining chemist who does it. This chemist or pharmacist is invariably hand-in-glove with the doctor in the sense, there is financial understanding between the doctor and the chemist retailer.
The Hepatitis B vaccine marketing saw a new era with a HEPATITIS B VACCINATION CAMP marketing approach. The thrust of all the Hepatitis B vaccine marketers was to organize mass vaccination camps in collaboration with the doctor(s) and sometimes with social organizations like the Rotary club and Lions club. The net result was MARKET BUILDING for the Hepatitis B vaccine product. Doctors particularly pediatricians saw this as a social marketing opportunity for thier clinics, through the Hepatitis B vaccination camps. Hence, today there is a great acceptance of Hepatitis B vaccination and in large part has possibly influenced IAP (Indian Academy of Pediatrics) to include this as a must-to-be administered vaccine. In all, some 25 vaccines are available in India with a major focus on the pediatric segment. Tetanus toxoid, polio, DPT, typhoid and Hepatitis B vaccines are the biggest markets in Inda.
How to grow the vaccine market?
Vaccines undoubtedly have a great role to play in healthcare. These products contain live (attenuated ie., weakened) or dead antigens of pathogens. On administration, the immune system is primed to produce specific antibodies. The primed immune system thus has circulating antibodies and can produce more antibodies on reexposure to the antigen. This gaurds the body from the disease attributable to the antigen. Thus, Hepatitis B vaccine gaurds people who have taken the vaccine from the dreaded Hepatitis B disease.
The first quest is to popularize the true concept of vaccines. For a majority of Indians, the idea of a vaccine is that it is a product meant primarily for infants and children, as a protective agent. However, we ought to know, vaccines are available for adults too. Today vaccines are being developed for various diseases. For instance, Cuba has a vaccine against lung cancer. SO TO GROW THE VACCINE MARKET, THE FIRST APPROACH IS TO MASS EDUCATE THE COMPLETE POTENTIAL BENEFITS of vaccines. For eg., the awareness of Wyeth's pneumococcal vaccine is not as high as the Hepatitis B vaccine. It just one of the optional vaccines...
The current marketing communication approach is aimed mainly through the pediatrician, by the vaccine marketers. The visible aspects of this approach is posters and patient information leaflets kept in clinics. This is read by some of the patients. And that is it. The doctor administers the vaccine brand he or she wishes to. The patient does not practically have a choice. Even doctors are wary of over-recommending any optional vaccine or specific brand. If doctors do this, it is possible that he or she may lose the patient.
IT IS HOWEVER, IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE NATION, PATIENT, AND MARKETER THAT MORE AND MORE AWARENESS NEEDS TO BE CREATED ON THE VACCINATION CONCEPT AND THE PLETHORA OF VACCINE BRAND CHOICES AVAILABLE.
Thus, a marketing approach would be:
a) for a comprehensive website that provides details of vaccination and each and every vaccine brand available. This website ought to serve as a single window of information on the vaccination concept and vaccine brands in India.
b) the next is to have 24 HOUR VACCINATION BOOTHS, that provide information, vaccine brands, and facilities to administer vaccines to interested people. This would really create market building for vaccines.
c) the third important approach is to have VACCINATION ADVISORS manning these booths. The vaccination advisors concept is similar to education counsellors of computer education companies, beauty advisors of companies like Lakme, and insurance advisors of various insurance companies. The vaccination advisors should be informed and trained personnel who will advise interested people on various vaccination issues, and even conduct seminars or go about visiting 'new parents' to talk on vaccination issues and help make a proper vaccination choice for thier new born. It should be noted that vaccination is often a once in a life time affair and can make a big difference to the future of the neonate. So a proper ecosystem for information and vaccination administration should be created and the VACCINATION ADVISORS along with 24 HOUR VACCINATION BOOTHS concept WILL HELP in this direction.
It is not healthy to have a purely freebie based CRM approach to vaccination. And it is impractical to expect that the pediatrician or the GP will have time to educate the patient on various vaccine brand options and help the patient make his or her choice.
IN INDIA, 24 HOUR VACCINATION BOOTHS AND VACCINATION ADVISORS WILL SERVE AS VITAL LINKS AS DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER ADVERTISING ON VACCINE BRANDS IS NOT PERMISSIBLE UNDER LAW.
Thus, to build a robust market for vaccines the actual consumption of the brands should take place, for this the market should expand. If this is to happen, then, patient empowerment is a must. The road to patient empowerment and vaccine market expansion is through VACCINATION BOOTHS AND VACCINATION ADVISORS, and a knowledge campaign through dedicated workers. Such vaccination knowledge dissemination cannot happen through busy doctors, a bunch of patient information leaflets, and posters on some clinics.
There is a lot of ignorance regarding the CHICKEN POX VACCINE AND TYPHOID VACCINE. Pushing more patient information leaflets and posters on these vaccines is not going to help the cause of marketing these vaccines nor is it going to help the prospective patients who would benefit from these vaccines. A lot of persuasive information needs to go through specific trustworthy personnel such as vaccination advisors.
Will vaccination advisors be trusted?
As long as the pitch of the vaccination advisors is related towards information and empowerment, it will work, and any selling activity is best left to the sales persons.
A good vaccination empowerment ecosystem is vital for the future
In years to come, quite a few breakthrough vaccines will be introduced in India. For instance, Gardasil, the cervical cancer vaccine. There are segments in the Indian society who will be benefited by these vaccine, and there could be more useful vaccines forthcoming in to India. How to market them? The vaccination advisors and 24 hour vaccination booths will help the cause.
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