Friday, May 1, 2009

The game of relevance

The invention of the tank transformed 'war'. The military tank succeeded because it is a highly relevant equipment to penetrate enemy lines and win wars.

Business people play a game - it is called the game of relevance. All marketers are endeavoring to provide value that is most relevant to the prospect or customer. By this marketers try to delight customers with their value offerings and do profitable business. The game of relevance is played by all hierarchies of employees. The front-line pharma marketers want to offer promotional inputs of high relevance to influencers (doctors) and chemists, thereby generate prescriptions and sales. The strategists, product portfolio managers, and those providing promo inputs too want their outputs to be highly relevant to the target audience, thereby influencing the sales picture positively. Every moment in the marketing battle is won only by those who are the most relevant to the doctor or chemist at that moment.

So how is each pharma marketer trying to outdo the other in trying to be the most relevant in the market?

Being contemporary: is the most important approach to being relevant. When marketing communication gets jaded and appears out-dated, products and services start lowering themselves in the relevance index of the customers.

Being regular: is important for being relevant. When pharma marketers are regular with their communication inputs and calls on target doctors and chemists, the product or service is perceived as relevant.

Proper product portfolio: Products are the bread and butter of any organization. Pharma companies are investing heavily in R & D, or otherwise trying to offer the most relevant product range to the target doctors and chemists.

If Biocon is betting heavy this year on biogenerics, it is because of the relevance of quality & value-for-money biogenerics in the global regulated markets. If some brands have hit a gold-mine then it is due to some sharp essence of relevance. Levonorgestrol (emergency contraceptive) brands like Unwanted 72 and I-pill have hit a gold mine in the market - the patient can take the tablet by herself, her privacy is respected, and it is easy. Empowering products are usually very relevant to the target customers, and are winners in the marketplace. Emergency contraceptives are empowering, they give a sense of control to the healthcare consumers. Hence, market intelligence is best appreciated when it provides reliable inputs to make decisions that helps a company become more relevant in the market. The need for relevance has forced pharma companies like Biocon to look at the biogenerics range, and global Big Pharma to invest in biogenerics.

Google is on a winning track because they offer products of high relevance to netizens. The search engine is very relevant and empowering to netizens - hence, it is a winner. Google Chrome has combined search property and internet launching ability. Hence, it is very relevant.

Social media and social networking sites are successful because of their relevance - they help people link with each other and express their thoughts in a never-before fashion. Relevance is verily the key to success in the marketplace.

Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) is an interesting drug. Its relevance comes with every influenza pandemic! The latest to give worldwide chills is SIV (Swine Influenza Virus) or Influenza A H1N1. Roche is getting chills for another reason - the Govt. of India says it is OK to manufacture and market generic oseltamivir by Indian pharma biggies like Cipla and Hetero Drugs, as there is no patent infringement.

Aligning with disease trends, and other needs or market requirement is crucial.

Marketers are forever in search of hidden needs, and other market requirements. When, the electrolyte energy drinks gained favor of prescribers, it was because the product fulfilled a hidden need of prescribers and patients for a tasty, ready-to-drink, safe, and hydrating electrolyte energy drink. If pranayama-Yoga is catching on infectiously in the Indian society and diaspora, it is because it fulfils a need for a health boosting lifestyle option. Successful marketers are forever looking to allign their product portfolio and promotional activities in line with the market trends (present and future).

Medical foods is an interesting trend - thanks to the media that has encouraged positive preventive healthcare lifestyle. Medical foods are special foods that are targeted to specific disease conditions like say, diabetes (foods with out sucrose), or hypertension (foods with low salt) etc. The increased health consciousness, extended life span, and the higher incidence of chronic diseases, have all lead to the phenomenon of medical foods. The need for recommending medical foods is also felt by prescribers. Hence, pharma and healthcare marketers are trying to become relevant to their target audiences through medical foods.

In the end, it is apparent that RELEVANCE is the name of the game in marketing. As long as each activity of the company is focused on being relevant to the market needs (present and future), the organization will be on a high - or else, it will be in a trough.

During recession, the challenge for marketers is tailor making the product or service so that it is relevant to the present times.

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