Sunday, May 15, 2011

Scenario planning in pharma


People work. Why? The reasons are many - such as, NEED, GREED, FEAR, PASSION, INTEREST, OBSESSION, LOVE ... however, the common denominator of every reason is - trying to achieve a particular idea of success. It is this vision of success that drives individuals to work or activity.

The success concept may be simple (such as going to a good restaurant for lunch) or complex (like producing a successful biogeneric). This drive to succeed makes people, teams and organizations work in a particularly way and in a certain direction.

The direction and intensity of work depends on the inputs of decision making. These inputs come from the internal or external environment. The direction and intensity of work sometimes comes from serendipity too. However, firms are always bothered about the direction and intensity of work, as it influences business results.

Companies look at past experiences to create a strategic work plan. Or companies look at possible future scenarios and then plan their work activities. For instance, the futuristic disease trend is CARDIOMETABOLIC disorders. Hence, a firm's activities will be to address the near- future scenario where there will be about 15 crore diabetic patients in India. Hence, scenario planning attitude implies, creating products and services that address this emerging market.

Scenario planning is heavily dependent on knowledge of present and emerging social, lifestyle, disease, economic, cultural, business, political and technological trends. Based on this understanding value delivery mechanisms are engineered so that a firm will have good sales in future time. Scenario planning is the bedrock of long term range planning. It involves understanding SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunity Threat) matrix of a firm in present time, and planning future outcomes.

Rise of pharmacy power

The emerging scenario points out to the developing power of pharmacies. Organized pharmacy chains in India are getting stronger. Med Plus is today a well entrenched chain. Hetero Pharmacy (a part of Hetero group) is now executing expansion plans to have more retail outlets. Understanding this growing power of pharmacies, and the importance of pharmacies in influencing the outcomes of pharmaceutical marketers, pharma companies have now started chalking out robust plans to address and partner this pharmacy growth.

GSK (as per Chronicle Pharmabiz, 5.5.2011) is now setting up a strong community pharmacy team, which will empower pharmacies to communicate better with patients. By aligning with this pro-pharmacy trend, GSK will be in a better position to retain and expand its shelf space. Retail availability is very vital for pharma success.

In coming 2 to 3 years, we will see pharmacies getting pampered, as much as doctors, to improve pharma marketing fortunes. Hence, relationship management with pharmacies is inevitable for superior value delivery by pharma marketers.

Media power on the rise

Today, the Third Front of the society, the media, is a very powerful institution. Bureaucrats, rich capitalists, politicians AND MEDIA are the change agents of contemporary society. The jasmine revolution in the Arab world, the growing might of Al Jazeera channel, AND the electronic media coverage of assembly and parliamentary elections, are all examples of the omnipresent media. Attitudes and events are shaped by media. Marketers ought to take cognizance of the media might, particular electronic and digital media while crafting marketing strategies.

CHRONICLE PHARMABIZ has been kind enough to publish my article on THE ERA OF LONG TAIL in the May 5th issue, PLEASE CLICK HERE. However, will this esteemed journal continue in its present form and shape in coming years? Futuristic scenario trends certainly do not indicate this. Chronicle Pharmabiz will probably have an extensive digital footprint in coming 5 years.

For eg., a futuristic scenario may be as follows:

A registered mobile no. in the Chronicle Pharmabiz portal will get sms alerts on his mobile at regular intervals (for eg., everyday at 11.00 am and 4.00 pm) such as:

Benadryl sms headlines: GSK sets up community pharmacy team. Click to read full story.

If interested the internet mobile phone user will read the story, and pay through mobile currency. Digital and convergence technology will surely influence the way information, news and knowledge is consumed by individuals and groups of people. The way knowledge, news and information is presented will also change.

Another example of sms or e-mail alert would be: New Feature just published in Chronicle Pharmabiz: THE ERA OF LONG TAIL, please click to read further.

Hence, digital communication will gain traction, one has to understand the unfolding technology and incorporate it into scenario planning.

Savvy marketers of pharmaceuticals will also herald a new digital era of marketing by creatively employing cloud computing, mobile based internet communication, and portals to TRAIN front line pharma personnel, and communicate with target audiences to influence potential and actual prescribers.

Imagine a pharma marketing organization having a mobile phone database of say 300000 pharmacies across India. At the push of a button, the pharma organization can communicate retail bonus offers to them, or information of new product launches, this will create superb marketing results. This is what GSK is aiming for through its community pharmacy team.

Imagine another campaign: GSK launches special Periton lucky dip offer. Purchase 15 bottles of Periton with retail offer, send us the invoice no. and date. Registered Mobile Nos. providing genuine invoice no. will be automatically enrolled for lucky dip. Lucky mobile nos. stand to win a double door refridgerator!!

Such a seasonal offer will surely cause significant uptake of sales, since cough syrups can be pushed over-the-counter.

Communicating with pharmacies will not only be on educative lines, the connectivity can be employed for significant results across the COMMUNICATION MIX:

  • In personal selling, MRs will get better response from pharmacies that have already been primed with mobile phone based marketing activities
  • In sales promotion: retail bonus and gift offers can be communicated, and this will ensure retail offer benefits are transferred (not blocked by distributors)
  • From publicity angle, digital communication will enthrall pharmacists in an engaging way
  • It establishes a possible two way direct communication between database marketing division and the market retailers, improving business results
In years to come marketing activities will surely be two-way thanks to growth of media, particularly electronic and digital. Marketers will be forced to creatively explore the potential of new media and pharmacies for value delivery, catalysing exchange processes, and enhancing customer delight, while building brands, and enhancing market penetration. It is such efforts that will create the WOW factor, build on trust, improve relations, make a buzz in the market and finally, hold on to customers in this ever-changing and fickle world.

In a static world, where uncertainties, disruptions and changes are seldom, such as in protected economies, scenario planning has no significant meaning, it is only sales estimates that are required there.

However, in a globalized and fast-changing world, SCENARIO PLANNING gains significance. Emerging short term, medium term and long term trends need to be spotted, and activities to cash on them is required. It is the age of ECLECTIC MARKETING people - those who are alive to the world around them and creatively use the tools and trends!! Marketing belongs to such people now!! Growth is the outcome of good marketing. Positive change in sales cannot come in routine marketing activities. One has to look out and understand possible emerging scenarios, plan for addressing future scenarios and emerge stronger with time. Marketing muscle depends on scenario planning!

Thanks for reading this blogpost, hope the scenario looks good for you too, please scroll down and read all other blogposts, click on older posts wherever required, please recommend this blog too.

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