Sunday, September 21, 2008

Santa Claus comes calling!

America falling, India calling!

America is at an interesting phase in its economy, particularly in its election year! As such, America is a high consumption economy, now in a crisis. Wherever, there is high consumption there is high credit availability. It is a thumb rule. The current status reflects that the Americans are spending more than they are earning. They are takin' credit, spending, consuming, the production system pumps in more products and services, more credit lines are opened up, and the Americans spend more! This vicious cycle goes on and on. So you raise more money and credit, and unique financial products are created to help consume more... finally, the cycle goes bust...AIG, Lehmann and other infallible institutions collapse on the weight of debt. AMERICA FALLING!!

In fact, Chidanand Rajghatta, who writes cutely, says that AIG episode is akin to nationalization of banks - which had happened in our country in the late 1970s.

So what do marketers do? Rush to the emerging economies. And it is easier today as it is a globalized economy. So marketers will engage prospects and customers in the marketplace of rapidly emerging economies like India.

India calling!

It is rush hour, comparatively, in India. The Indian Pharma market (as per Market Intelligence report of ORG IMS, June 2008), is one of the top 3 growing countries, the global rank is 15th, and the growth in the past year is CAGR of 15%. By June 2008, the Indian Pharma market is Rs. 32776 crores with a value growth of 14%. As per this report from ORG IMS, the Indian pharmaceutical market has 400 organized pharmaceutical companies, some 47,000 packs are promoted to more than 5 lakh doctors, who generate nearly 100 crore prescriptions that are honored at more than 5 lakh chemists.

The contract manufacturing market scene is hot. As per KPMG, the Indian contract manufacturing market is expected to touch 2.46 billion USD by 2010, with a CAGR of 41.7% from 869 million USD in 2007. The next level of this market is when along with conventional dosage forms, injectables and biologics will enter this activity.

A Mckinsey study says that the Indian healthcare market is expected to grow 190 billion USD in the next two decades. As per this report, India has now, about 5 lakh doctors, 7.3 lakh nurses, but the country requires an additional 6.71 lakh docotrs and 18.7 lakh nurses.

Business India, Sep 21, 2008 issue on page no. 36 says that the new buzz words in the Indian pharmaceutical industry are dietary supplements, functional foods, vitamins and herbal products. The market, world over for these products is estimated to be approx. 120 billion USD, and in India it was Rs. 1900 crores at the end of 2007 (as per a FICCI background paper). An industry expert has noted in the report, that the global market in this segment has gone from 60 billion USD to 120 billion USD in the past five years. Large beverage companies and even Merck (with its focus on Emblica and aamla) are betting big on this market. The nutraceutical or natural product hype is on in India, Japan, China, Taiwan, and USA.

The New Medical Representative a book by James Pancras
says in the foreword of his book: India has about 120000 pharmaceutical representatives. The no. of retail chemists is estimated to be about 5 lakh. (Apollo pharmacy chain feels that the highly fragmented pharmaceutical retail market has about six lakh pharmacies). The no. of pharmaceutical manufacturers is estimated to be 20000 to 25000. And the no. of brand formulations being promoted to doctors, is estimated to be 70000. This book in chapter nine reiterates that even the biggest companies may be able to contact about 150000 potential prescribers. The universe of potential allopathic prescribers may be about 5 lakh (chapter 13). Only about 25% of the billion plus population are said to access allopathic medicines. Regarding doctors, in Chapter 2, estimates are there are some 1125000 doctors licensed to practice. The allopathic doctors are estimated to be around 450000. This is classic book and one-of-its-kind on the Indian pharmaceutical industry, it is published by Masterman (


Every one likes Santa Claus! The pharmaceutical industry has its own Santa Claus!

The Santa Claus of the pharma industry is the medical representative! This charming and smiling guy or gal, walks smart, and talks smarter. Doctors love to have good and charming MRs around. These MRs smile a lot, unlike the patients they encounter. The MRs give a lot positive strokes. They provide and reiterate important information. They prime doctors on latest medical and therapy issues. They are a great break from the hectic surgical and clinical practice.

But the MR is not just about talking smart and charming the docs. He carries a cute leather bag. It is a bag of goodies. Samples, prescription pads, and other small and cute gifts come out of the bag. The MR is also an important contact point for the doctors to access the vaster marketing budgets of pharma companies. The doctor through the MR can strike sponsorships, CMEs, conference sponsorships, and personalized gifts from the pharma company. And all with a smile.

In India, today the MR is like a concierge service too. The MR very often handles the problems of doctors and provides tangible and intangible services. Its like the doctor then says Thank you Santa Claus!

Consider the following real-life examples:

The MR enters the clinic and finds the fan not working. The MR after taking the doctor's permission organizes the repair, very often sponsored by the company.

Another recollection is that of a doctor who arrives at the Bangalore railway station at about 11.00 pm from an interior place, and finds the autorickshaw drivers very irritating, and its getting difficult to go to the new Bangalore International Airport for an onward journey to Calcutta. The doctor immediately calls up a known MR. The MR is the knight in shining armor. The MR assures the doctor not to worry and stay put in a nearby cafe. Using his speaking skills and contacts with a taxi driver the MR ensures that a taxi comes to the doctor and safely drops the doctor to the airport. All this is done thanks to the mobile phone revolution in India!

Smart MRs provide busy and rich doctors with financial tips: best mutual funds, shares and other financial instruments to invest on. In fact, some companies now provide sponsorship to mutual funds too.

The lady doctors? Oh, they just like smart MRs. The MRs are smart, look good, smell great, they provide excellent courtesies, and make the lady doctor feel like a queen. They provide top notch and thoughtful gifts, like handbags, cosmetics, and even jewelery. And in times of need, there is help round the corner through company services like CMEs, arrangements for travel and stay during conferences - the MR arranges it all, with a smile.

And at the end of all this, what does the MR want? Just a few prescriptions. COME WHAT MAY, let the pharma marketers cook up various avenues of pharma communication: courier marketing, web based marketing and what not... the MR will just continue to be there. The GOOD MR WILL ALWAYS PROVIDE THE HUMAN FACE OF THE PHARMA COMPANY HE REPRESENTS. In an era of hollow relationships, the charming MR will always be there for the doctors, with a smile, with his charm, a great presence, and never ever wearing a frown, even if the MR's wife is hospitalized, or his child in suffering, or his monthly salary cheque has not come from the company or if his manager has harassed him (for not reaching the sales quota) or if the incentive ie., commission amount has not reached him, or if the MR has traveled arduously to an interior in a stinking bus - still he will be fresh, smiling, charming and smart in the clinic, to represent his company to the target doctor. LONG LIVE THE MR!

THIS IS THE REASON WHY MR. JOHN MACK IN THE SEP 2008 ISSUE OF PHARMA MARKETING NEWS SAYS:FRIENDLY PHARMA SALES REPS EARN MORE BUCKS WITH FEWER SALES CALLS. Alvin Toffler the famous futurologist has in fact said, that the futuristic trend in business will be HI TECH - HI TOUCH. So MRs will engage target doctors with smart gadgets like multimedia mobile phones, tablet PCs, and laptops. The pharma marketer will use web 2.0, web 3.0 and other tech tools to engage the doctor too. Still the MR will be there because HE IS THE SANTA CLAUS, THE PHARMA SANTA CLAUS!!

Thnks for reading this blogpost, click on older posts wherever required, and please do read all other blogposts. The above image is from HERE.

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