Sunday, August 22, 2010


Above image from here.

Organizational success
undoubtedly depends on its people. By people we mean their activities - verily, their involvement. When involvement is high, activities are done with a lot of enthusiasm. A low involvement employee performs activities mechanically - as a chore. Enthusiastic activities of involved personnel help generate better organizational outcomes.


The opposite of job involvement is alienation. If there is low job involvement, the implications to organizations include:

a) absenteeism
b) employee apathy
c) deliberate sabotage
d) strikes
e) go slow work campaign
f) lack of enthusiastic customer service (For eg., a MR who is very involved, is likely to ensure doctor requirements are serviced in a timely manner. However, a MR who has a lackadaisical attitude will not service doctors appropriately).
f) other forms of employee resistance.

The real challenge for managements and managers is to generate high involvement in a continuous manner. It is a situation where employees willingly and enthusiastically work towards company objectives. Low job involvement or alienation will not produce such an employee behavior.

Overcoming alienation

There is no single formula to generate high job involvement. Some of the factors that help generate involvement and avoid alienation:

a) Cultural background of candidate: In various cultures, work ethic is interpreted variously. In certain cultures, work is itself considered a reward, there is intrinsic reward in the work being performed. In other cultures, extrinsic rewards help produce required work behaviour patterns and involvement. Hence, while recruiting if possible it is important to assess the work ethic dimension of applicant. A candidate who places high value on the work itself is usually a better candidate.

b) Socialization and training process in the organization: The way the new employee encultures in to the organization is the key to successful work behaviour. If the new employee sees low job involvement as an inner organizational trend, the new inductee is likely to pick up such cues and get accordingly ingrained. For eg., certain companies have a club like atmosphere, others have an atmosphere that encourage boss-pleasing, and so on... It is during the entry and socialization experiences that an employee picks up company specific traits. Socialization and training inputs help shape new employee attitude in line with company values, and objectives.

c) Self actualization, social need and security need: High job involvement generated by the organization tends to encourage self actualization or the need for employee to tap his or her potential. The enterprise that helps strengthen the individuality of the employee will be better appreciated by the employee, this generates high involvement. Organizations that have systems to provide security and social needs of employees will tend to generate higher employee involvement. The trick is that the organization should be viewed as a purposeful platform for meeting certain important individual needs.

d) Job enrichment: When jobs become repetitive and boring, casualness and alienation seeps in like a silent thief. It is imperative that organizations institute training and upgradation skills that help employees enrich their jobs. Interventions that encourage job enrichment (such as new tools for job execution) will prove useful in increasing job involvement.

e) Isolation, meaninglessness and normlessness: Jobs that encourage social isolation - that do not strengthen self esteem of employee will see higher degree of alienation. This in turn causes higher employee turnover.

Jobs should ideally imbue a sense of meaningfulness in the employee. A MR who sees his job as helping transform the prescriber's practice in a meaningful way, and a MR who gets a sense of success by converting prescribers, will obviously be more successful. On the other hand, when a MR sees his job as a mere routine, and will not see any challenge or meaning in his vocation, will experience a greater sense of alienation, affecting organizational fortunes negatively.

Norms of a job should guide the employee behaviour and help the employee realize his individual goals. If the job norms do not help employee reach his social and professional goals, the employee is most likely to abandon the job with a sense of normlessness.

e) Coping mechanisms: Coping with the challenges of jobs and the sense of alienation that jobs may create should be understood by managers. Effective coping strategies should then be taught so that employees learn how to cope with the alienation and eventually become more involved.

f) Motivational programs: are becoming increasingly important in organizations, as the market place has become very dynamic. Motivation of employee leads to improved job involvement, reduced alienation and better organizational outcomes.

Pharma enterprises today face significant employee challenges. Adequately trained personnel are not picking up pharma jobs particularly in the sales field. Job opportunities in society for the educated are in plenty. Various new sectors are providing jobs to aspirants. Pharma companies have to compete in such situations and attract good candidates. Moreover, the recruited candidates should be moulded in such a way, that they show high degree of job involvement. Further, they should also stay on in the firm. Such are the challenges confronting managers today. This is the nettlesome contemporary pharma scene! Do pharma companies have a cogent strategy to take on the alienation bull by the horns?

Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down, click on older posts wherever required for reading the older posts, and kindly do recommend this blog to your acquaintances.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thoughts on branding


The concept of branding started with branding of cattle, horses and slaves to indicate ownership (in the 1800s). However. from the end of 19th century, the concept of branding extended to various products. Branding has become a very vital component of business practice. Particularly after Piramal Healthcare Solutions sold 350 brands and just one manufacturing location for a fancy Rs. 17000 crores (3. 2 billion USD), the importance of branding in pharmaceutical industry is felt stronger.

Brands help businesses STAND OUT from the crowd. A brand is not just about a logo, name and 'look and feel', it is also an emotional connect with the target audience. Thus, managements are spending more time looking at brand concepts, brand touchpoints and brand equity or brand value. This includes product brands, service brands and corporate brands.

How may branding develop in the future?

Businesses will strengthen focus on brand equity. Increasing perceived value of brands will gain momentum. Brand management will gain traction as brand assets are becoming more important than the physical aspects of a business. If Pfizer is a valuable company, it is not because it has 'n' number of manufacturing locations, or 'x' number of employees (including field force) - Pfizer is as valuable as its brands. Period! Corex is a Rs. 200 crore brand today. Corex is the no. 1 pharmaceutical brand in India. This and other brands from Pfizer make Pfizer valuable. This logic is applicable to any other company too. Businesses are valued mainly on brand equity.

This was not the case in the 1980s or earlier. Then, the physical assets of a company had greater value. The land and manufacturing plants were providing the main value to the pharmaceutical business. Today? It is the brand equities that are adding value to the enterprise.

This trend of increasing importance of brand equity or brand value will usher in a new approach of corporate working where the emphasis will be on increasing brand values or brand valuation.

Brands gain value or equity from:

1) brand sales
2) brand profits
3) brand scalability: is there scope for the brand to grow? Can the brand value increase exponentially with future time?
4) brand image: is it respectable?
5) brand penetration: is the brand more urban focused? Is the brand more focused towards specialists?

Brands versus threats of obsolescence

In pharma industry, brands have a unique threat, ie., of getting outdated. For instance, brands of astemizole, terfinadine, cimetidine, rofecoxib ... where are they now? With the generic molecule getting outdated or being withdrawn from the market, due to adverse drug reactions, the brands also have died a premature death. For a brand marketer, it is a tragedy. With great efforts the brand marketers have worked for ensuring good BRAND RECALL in the market. Finally, with controversy dogging the generic, the brand also has to suffer premature death. All the brand marketing investments have come to a nought!

Brands are separate assets

With brands becoming more valuable than even physical assets, brands need to be protected and brands need to live longer in the market in the best interests of the pharma company. With generics becoming outdated or withdrawn, how can a company preserve the brand name?


This was the marketing conundrum faced by the marketers at Reckitt. Sometime back quietly the marketers changed their DISPRIN from aspirin to paracetamol. The marketing thought was that Disprin was no longer being used for headaches widely, paracetamol was the faster selling generic in this space, hence, the quiet replacement of generic aspirin with paracetamol. However, when this happened, it stirred a hornet's nest. The regulators objected to this change as it was imprinted on the mind of prescribers that Disprin is aspirin. Disprin is used as a blood thinning agent too. So the company had to do a volte face.

The pragmatic marketers of Reckitt heeding to the public outcry and comments of the drug regulators, so they launched Disprin Paracetamol as a line extension. This has avoided the allegation of misbranding too.

Line extensions the way out

The above case study of Disprin (aspirin) and Disprin Paracetamol shows the way forward for pharma companies in brand management. With brand clutter being the order of the day, resorting to line extensions is becoming a necessity. Saving the brand name in the event of a generic becoming outdated or banned is an important challenge to brand marketers. Brands are built over time through costly investments. These efforts and resources spent, should ideally not come to a nought, just because a generic is no longer wanted. The brand name of the generic is still an important asset. The brand has generated a lot of pen habit among prescribers. Line extensions is a way out to save the brand name. This is especially because brands are today, very important assets, and it is not easy to establish brands. Disprin aspirin and Disprin Paracetamol is a very interesting and pragmatic approach.

The case of Althrocin

Ask any doctor what 'heritage brand' Althrocin is, pat will come the reply, Althrocin is erythromycin. At one time, in the 1990s, Althrocin was among the top 5 pharmaceutical brands of India. Today, with erythromycin prescriptions becoming lesser due to rise in prescriptions for cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones, the brand name Althrocin has become very weak. The brand equity is a pale shadow of its glorious past. What a brand tragedy?!


If brand Althrocin was redefined to include all similar generics like Azithromycin, Roxithromycin, and Clarithromycin (ie., macrolide antibiotics), through line extensions, would it have helped the marketing cause of increasing brand value of Althrocin?

Unless, brands evolve with times, ensuring relevance to the target audience, the brand values will inevitably become weak. Technology has to be harnessed to prop the brand higher. Brands should extend to various types of dosage formulations to ensure the brand is still exciting and relevant. In today's context, brand marketers should not easily bury brands, just because they have become old and mature. Brand marketers should help brands evolve and remain pertinent with changing times. That is the true call of brand marketing!

Brand marketing in pharmaceutical marketing is now a greater challenge since the brand is a master asset. In the above examples, brand marketers can take brand decline lightly and be party to the 'degrowth of a brand' because the brand is getting old OR like the interesting case of Disprin Paracetamol, brand marketers can make strategic moves (such as line extensions, there are other approaches too) to ensure brands evolve with time, and that brand equity enhances with time, so that there is a good future for all brands. NOW THAT IS SOME FOOD FOR THOUGHT!

Wishing all brand marketers all success in their professional life! Please do recommend this blog to your acquaintances, kindly read all other blogposts by scrolling down and clicking on older posts when required. Trumpet the benefits of the brand, do not make the voice feeble!