Sunday, October 3, 2010

Mind, a craving organ

Above image from here.

The intangible is often taken for granted! I recollect a conversation with a leading paediatrician of Bangalore sometime back. In addition to paediatric practice, he offered customised books or journals for pharmaceutical companies, who then would provide the same to doctors, as a service. Once when we were involved in a transaction, I requested him to provide the articles in CD form, the printing would then be taken care of by the pharma company. However, he insisted on providing the final printed journal. The reason was simple, he said:"Sunil, in India, the intangible intellectual property does not have value!! Business people give maximum value only to tangible things! So intangible contributions are most often discounted or taken for granted. So it is better I supply the final book product"!! How right!! The intangible is particularly in the Indian context almost always discounted or taken for granted ... just like the mind - an intangible organ.

Mind, a craving organ

The mind is defined as originating from the brain. The most important attribute of this intangible organ is that it is a craving organ. There are several cravings in this organ that direct the human behaviour. These types of cravings include: recognition, wealth seeking, working for higher stature in life, security, rich foods, nutritious foods, entertainment, frequent sex, alcohol consumption or thrill seeking.

Recently, I came across a very interesting medical event. A gentleman was afflicted with uncontrolled diabetes. Finally, he had gangrene of the foot. The doctor seeing the condition advised immediate amputation, if this was not done, the prognosis was bad - the patient would die in a month's time. The patient haughtily refused surgical treatment, went in for Ayurveda and other alternative treatments, that provided mixed results. Unfortunately, he passed away yesterday.

On deeper analysis, it is evident his mind directed him not to seek surgical treatment, for whatever reasons. He had this craving to avoid surgical treatment and seek alternative nonsurgical treatment. This craving did him in. That is the power of cravings!!

So the bottom line is that cravings (in the mind) direct human behaviour and they create different experiences for him/her.

Making a choice

Cravings are inevitable attributes of the mind. Some mind researchers classify only the higher mental functions like reasoning and memory as attributes of the mind. Nevertheless, cravings are a part and parcel of mind.

With one's mind we can exercise our imagination and create a smörgåsbord of cravings, these can range from plain to exotic. The ability to choose a particular craving requires the function of will, intelligence and knowledge.


Marketers depend on these cravings!

If the patient does not have a craving to get better, if the doctor does not have a craving to heal his patients, where will we pharma marketers go?!

Delivering competitive value that satisfies the cravings is very important

Take for example, the success of electrolyte energy drinks in Tetra Pak concept, in India. The craving in the patient was that paediatric and other patients need to get in electrolytes, safe water, energy, and the patient should enjoy the experience. Tetra Pak technology provided aseptic technology that made the product ultra safe. The fruit juice base enhanced palatability and ensured patient delight. When the patient was delighted so was the doctor!! This superior value was the best competitive offering in the market - for offering fluids to weak and dehydated patients. Hence, the above product concept has succeeded.

Making superior value offerings is always fraught with risks. Innovations to enhance value can be risky prepositions. If they click, there is a bonanza for the pharma marketer. If it bombs, there is a big loss.

Recently, Crocin suspension innovated. They have for the first time launched a child resistant cap for the bottle. But those who have used it will know, what a pathetic innovation it is. If a patient buys it, he will never buy Crocin suspension again! Opening the cap is not easy, and it gets locked so firmly that it is not possible to reopen the bottle!

Hence, innovation to improve value offerings is always risky that can hurt if it backfires in the market!

The electronic industry is always in a race to offer better and improved value offerings. After the LCD TV, came the HDTV and now the rage is 3 D TV! Value offering is the sum of all brand experiences of a customer. If the value offering is superior to competitor brands, then the customer will be satisfied or delighted.

In pharma marketing, delighting the doctor is the key, rather than delighting the patient!

Traditionally, pharma marketing is always about making service offerings to doctors who prescribe the brand. The content of the value offering to doctors includes regular calls by MRs and field personnel, positive strokes and praises by field personnel, clinical reports, trial summaries, samples to try on the patient (because seeing is believing), and freebies (small gifts, large gifts, and sponsorships) to delight the doctor. More delighted the doctor, more the prescription flow in favor of the brand, and more the sales of the pharma brand.

The other entity is the pharmacist or chemist, who needs to be plied with retail offers to delight him. Or the chances of brand substitution is greater. Hence, the chemist should also be kept happy.

With patient empowerment improving slowly, there are small changes where patient may demand for a particular brand. However, patient consciousness (patient is the one who actually pays for the pharma product) on pharma products is still very low. Product performance should delight the patient to ensure doctor is confident on the pharma product.

Competitive value offerings ensure that cravings in the market, change constantly. Accordingly, pharma marketers should reinvent value offerings to ensure customers are delighted in an ever dynamic market place. There was a time where doctors had very low cravings from pharma marketers. They only wanted regular calls and some samples and a small gift every now and then. Today, competitive value offerings from pharma marketers has created a lot of new cravings in doctor customers. These need to be understood and accordingly serviced!

Cravings are a part of life since the mind is life! A craving-free mind is a philosophical target reached by very few. Marketers, markets and products/services are always in demand, because cravings are ever growing and changing. Cravings make markets!

Hope this blogpost has satisfied your present craving for a nice read! Feel free to talk about my blog with your acquaintances and scroll down (click on older posts, as and when required) to read all other posts.

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