Friday, May 27, 2016


Opinions are the most common type of thoughts and these are reflected in all online and offline conversations.  Major corporate decisions and family decisions are all by-products of opinions.  By the very meaning of the word, opinion - the judgment or viewpoints about a product, person, idea or experience or event need not be based on facts or knowledge.  There can be 'felt-opinions' and 'fact-based opinions'.  These are viewpoints of a person or group of persons or institution about a thing or person.  Hence, it is not an exaggeration to say that management of opinions, creating a favourable opinion about oneself or the marketed product/service/idea/event/experience is very much a marketing manager’s day-to-day job!

Favourable opinions need to be built and constantly nourished.  If for example, Company A has a leading brand of paracetamol, the marketer is bounden to constantly present a genuine engaging story, represent authentic talking points and provide evidence for the same, so that the favourable opinion on Brand A paracetamol for the management of fever and pain, gets nourished.  Thus, an important end-point of marketing messaging is certainly: maintaining favourable opinions among stakeholders (consumers and influencers included) about the marketed product, service, idea, experience or event.

So what are the ingredients required to whip up a potent marketing approach that results in favourable opinions?

a)    Trust-building: giving a message that the marketed product, service, experience, idea or event is a reliable, safe and optimal one.  The customer should trust  the marketed entity (find it reliable)
b)     Engaging messages: products do not sell unless backed by messaging, to invigorate the customer or prospects regarding the benefits of consuming the marketed entity.  Actually, a customer is buying an image or benefit(s) of a marketed entity.  For this to happen, the messages should have potency and creativity to inspire target audiences to experience the marketed entity.  Glamour, appeal, highlighting the USPs (Unique Selling Prepositions) and multi-media messaging will facilitate consumption of the marketed item.  Messaging should be so attractive that it should go viral or instigate positive word-of-mouth.

c)      Gaining feedbacks/having dialogue with constituents: in this age of the ‘prosumer’ and customization, it is inevitable that the marketer listens and appreciates the points elucidated by his target audience.  Taking a lead from this melange of messages from the consumer fraternity, channel partners and other stakeholders, it is vital to improvise the bundle of offerings to provide a more satisfying experience to the customer.  The customer has insatiable appetite for customer satisfaction…yeh dil maange more!

d)     Making availability: easy access to the marketed entity (product, service, idea, experience, event or entity) is a key feature to build favourable opinions about the marketed entity.  Hence, 24/7 call centres provide after – sales support to various items.  Similarly, service engineers, sales personnel and MRs remain accessible to prospects and customers to facilitate the sale.  Having a large number of easily accessible points-of-purchase is key feature for sustained success of a product or service.  Repeat customers are vital for continuous success and it is possible only with easy access to the marketed entity.

e)  Continuous improvement: success is a moving target; one cannot rest on one’s laurels.  New benchmarks are constantly set by demanding customers and belligerent or aggressive competitors.  Hence, one should necessarily continuously upgrade the customer experience; ‘under-promise and over-deliver’ is a nice aphorism in this game.  New market gaps should get identified and filled - thus, reinforcing success repeatedly.

f)    Use OPINION BUILDERS: celebrities, experts (like doctors, nutritionists, beauticians, hair stylists, image makers, consultants etc), and characters not only aid brand recall, they help mould favourable opinions.  If Shah Rukh Khan endorses Hyundai cars for a decade, he may not be an automobile engineer, but this celebrity endorsement builds trust, brand image and favourable opinion (hence, favourable word-of-mouth and publicity).  This aids in the purchase decision making by a prospect. 

Doctors are the favourite and logical or inevitable opinion builders and influencers for sales of pharmaceutical goods.  Other healthcare items (like dental products, nutraceuticals, nutritional products like milk mix beverage powders, hearing aids, and other medical or healthcare devices) also obtain better sales boost when doctors recommend them to the target audience.  There is great power of an opinion builder in an apron, for healthcare goods and services!

Characters can also help strengthen favourable purchase decisions.  Example: an army man character (caricature or actor in army fatigues) will help build a positive opinion for products associated with strength, for instance: dental creams or toothpastes for strong teeth; or milk mix beverages for adults…).  Popular cartoon characters also feed good opinions on products or services.  Example: Chotta Bheem for a toothpaste item (makes teeth stronger)!

One of the most unique opinion builders in recent times, is Baba Ramdev, who has created history with establishment of Patanjali range of herbal and Ayurvedic products, and food products.  Patanjali products has only one brand ambassador: Baba Ramdev.  It is his aura that is fueling favourable opinion among prospects and customers for Patanjali products.  It is a unique case study of a Yogi opinion builder.  (Another  Guru is Sri Sri Ravishankar: Art of Living who has also launched a slew of products, of which, Tejasvita, a milk mix beverage is creating a mild sensation in the marketplace).

Right use of relevant opinion builders will strengthen the opinions people have on healthcare products (including prescription-only products).  The right strategy and mix of messaging elements have to be applied so that customers sit up and notice messages about a marketed entity endorsed by opinion builders or influencers.

Hope you liked the above post on opinion builders in marketing, please scroll down and read all other posts (click on older posts to read more posts) …recommend this blog to your acquaintances.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Three cheers to resourceful APTI

APTI stands for Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India, and was started way back in 1966, by Indian pharma stalwarts including Dr. M L Schroff et al.

APTI has several dedicated persons working for enhancing pharma education and interaction with industry.  The recent function of APTI: foundation stone laying ceremony (bhoomi pooja) on 20.5.16 for the APTI-B M Reddy Innovation Incubation & Education center, Bangalore, was truly inspiring.

Dr. Shivananda (seated second left), Past Principal of Al Ameen College of Pharmacy, Bangalore, a dynamic "ageless" dedicated pharmacist teacher insisted on my presence at this function, and thanks to him I got a glimpse of how visionary educationists, regulators, industry doyens and politicians are working in concert to strengthen contributions of pharmacy education field to the pharmaceutical domain.

In the above photo, we see several captains of the pharmaceutical sector including Mr. Gundu Rao, businessman and President of Karnataka State Pharmacy Council; Mr. Raghuram Bhandary, Drugs Controller of Karnataka; Dr. Mohd. Majeed, MD, Sami Labs; Shri B M Reddy, founder of Acharya group of institutions including the pharmacy college; Mr. Narayana; Ms. Shobha Karandlaje, Member of Parliament, Dr. B P Nagori  and others.

The other VIPs graced the auspicious occasion as part of the audience: Dr. Mudda, Director of Global Strategy Micro Labs and the luminaries of KDMPA: Mr. Sunil Attavar, MD, Group Pharmaceuticals; Mr. Harish Jain, Director, Embiotic and Mr. Jitesh Sheth, MD, Shrusti Pharmaceuticals.  Mrs. Nandita Vijay, the evergreen lady from Chronicle Pharmabiz known for her accurate reporting, lent her quiet dignified presence.  There were many other education entrepreneurs, academicians and technopreneurs; students, teachers and faculty.

This incubation center is a Rs. 60 crores (Rs. 0.60 billion) smart building project, which will house state of art laboratories, seminar halls and amphitheatre facilities to encourage research, sharing, learning and innovation.  Of course, the challenge is project execution, subsequent maintenance and finally ensuring that the center does produce value outputs...and not remain an ivory tower establishment.  Certainly, a project and program driven culture will help make the new APTI B M Reddy center a relevant institution.

Dr. Burande (fondly known as 'Modi of pharma profession') gave a zealous and enthralling speech.  Dr. Burande is a renowned pharma academician who is the founder of IPER (Indian Pharmaceutical Education and Research)

Dr. Majeed, MD, Sami Labs and Sabinsa Corp, USA: is a pioneering nutraceutical technopreneur who has staked his place in the hall of fame through products based on curcumin and long pepper; he is known to patronize non-profit knowledge ventures

Mr. B M Reddy, a pharmacist, hailing from Warangal (Telangana) has set up an educational empire of about 10 institutes of higher learning -
 of which Acharya & B M Reddy College of Pharmacy, Bangalore is a well-known one.  Mr. B M Reddy, a very down to earth education entrepreneur, has donated one acre of land (worth currently approx. Rs. 20 crores or Rs. 200 million) is a visionary leader.  After the APTI B M Reddy incubation center gets going, the aura and brand recall for his pharmacy college among opinion builder pharmacists (such as teachers) will obviously increase.

Journals and other publications were released at the function: here Dr. Raghurama Bhandary, Drugs Controller of Karnataka is seen in action.

All in all, the event was a memorable one, as a fellow pharmacist I hope it augurs well for the profession, through this new institution: APTI B M Reddy Innovation, Incubation & Education Centre, in the making.  This event reflects the current state of affairs: India is agog with action in almost every field IT, agriculture, medicine or pharmaceuticals.  Professional and knowledge working has become order of the day.