Saturday, November 26, 2016


Marketing is about expecting the unexpected!  When marketers dive into creating value offerings, they confront one of the three situations:

a)      A me-too crowded market
b)      A me-too niche market
c)      A novel market

The above image from here.

Each of these situations requires a different marketing treatment! 

When there is a novel product, it entails market building effort.  The diffusion of innovation becomes a challenge.  Locating early adopters becomes the necessity.  There are after all those doctors who look to provide novelty in their practice.  One has to win the confidence of such trend setting doctors.  Providing enough clinical experience and trial data becomes the order of the day.  Such doctors are ready to risk new products in their practice, provided they buffet their decision making practice, through hard and dependable confidence building clinical evidence.  Doctors need to see beyond the jargon and obtain confidence through pertinent scientific material.  Other conservative doctors prefer to hitch onto the novel product bandwagon only after the product has shown its mettle over time. 

A niche product has a narrow spectrum of users.  The number of prospects is limited.  Hence, a niche product is focused through targeted marketing approaches.  For instance, a monoclonal antibody such as trastuzumab for Herceptin positive breast cancer patients, is a totally niche product.  Only highly qualified oncologists can recommend the use of this product to appropriate patients. 

Entering a larger crowded me-too pharma product market is a different cup of tea!  To gain even a small market share and hit breakeven is a challenge to such a product manager or mini marketing manager.  To make a mark through the me-too product, the communication mix becomes handy in providing messaging differentiation and gain mindshare of potential prescribers. 

The communication mix includes:

a)    Packaging and labelling – with some novelty (even simple 3 D printing innovation with spot UV lamination on the pack, perhaps on the brand logo, can act as an impelling point to make the prescription decision)
b)   Personnel selling by trained MRs who can create attention value through attention grabbing talking points.  A related point is unique set of in-clinic activities supported by creative collaterals, which will work to help gain mindshare
c)      Sales promotion (aka bonus offers and bundled gifts to pharmacies or dispensing doctors)
d)     Advertisements to indulge in messaging in a non-obtrusive manner, yet effectively achieving brand registration and brand recall (eg., mobile based permission sms messaging, permission email messaging, product website, banner advertisements in therapy oriented web properties, social media viral marketing approaches, strategically placed medical journal advertising, mailer advertising (enclosing simple utility items for engagement, eg., pens), “influencing the influencer through other personal influencers” mailers (eg., sending interesting appeals through mailers to wives of doctors or parents of doctors), courier mailing of samples to doctors, and patients on recommendation of doctors, patient education material mailers to consumers, phone marketing through call centres etc.
e)  Publicity through CMEs, medical journal articles and other media articles, e-articles for surrogate word-of-mouth of the focused me-too brand

It is not possible to ride only on the winds of niche products and novel products, a large market is me-too products of proven moieties.  It is better to understand this reality and penetrate the me-too marketing through awesome communication mix.

Ribonyl: the azalide antibiotic with better patient compliance

Ribonyl is the brand name of azithromycin, a macrolide antibiotic or antibacterial.  The idea was to develop messages that are differentiated and will provide a cachet to the brand.

Brand name potency: Ribonyl comes from the word ribosome (protein factories of cells).  Azithromycin acts as an antibiotic or antibacterial by disrupting or disturbing protein synthesis on the 50 S (S = Svedberg unit) ribosomal subunit of susceptible bacteria.  Azithromycin halts protein synthesis through preventing action of peptidyl transferase, this enzyme is involved in attaching appropriate amino acid to the growing polypeptide chain on the 50 S ribosomal unit.  This way azithromycin provides bacteriostatic effect, and bacterial population stops growing, WBCs find it easier to exert phagocytic activity on these weakened pathogenic bacterial colonies.  Hence, the new brand of azithromycin is named Ribonyl, which has vigorous brand name potency.  (Note: the main competitor brands of azithromycin have brand names such as Azee, Azithral, Azimax, Aziwok, Azibact, ATM and so on).

The very name Ribonyl is attractive, scientific; explaining the name itself gives some time to engage the doctor, and compellingly offers an off-beat name and prescription secrecy.

Brand positioning statement: the azalide antibiotic with better patient compliance.

Azithromycin belongs to the azalide sub-class in the chemical class of macrolide antibiotics.  By bringing out this fact the word azalide has additional attention catching potential.  It is all about riveting the mind of the potential prescriber to the brand name and registering the brand name.

The other brand positioning statement: ‘the triple benefit antibacterial’ brings out the three cardinal benefits of azithromycin:

a)      Broad spectrum of action
b)      Convenient dosing (once a day)
c)      Patient compliance

The above are placed in the three sides of triangle brand logo in visual aid and communication literature.

Talking points for Ribonyl: it is essential to build a professional story through some off-the-routine talking points.  A repertoire of talking points was built for use in appropriate printed material:

a)    Ribonyl is effective against pathogenic typical bacteria (Gram positive and Gram negative) and Atypical bacteria.  Typical bacteria are those which are easily stained through Gram staining technique.  Atypical bacteria are those that are not easily or can’t be stained through Gram staining.  Azithromycin is active against atypical bacteria such as Chlamydia trachomatis and Mycoplasma pneumoniae.  Hence, a talking point generated was Ribonyl is effective against pathogenic typical and atypical bacteria.  This not only highlighted the unique aspect of Ribonyl, it also served to register the brand among prescribers
b)  Ribonyl is not affected by beta lactamase.  The latter is an enzyme produced by resistant bacteria and renders beta lactam antibiotics (such as penicillins, cephalosporins, monobactams and penems) ineffective.  Since Ribonyl does not have a beta lactam ring, it is not broken down by beta lactamase, Ribonyl is potentially active against beta lactamase producing bacteria as monotherapy or in combination.  This point was also a cachet for Ribonyl
c)  Ribonyl concentrates on phagocytes, and is carried to infected tissues, where it achieves manifold higher concentration compared to plasma
d)     Ribonyl has short duration of therapy, high compliance (due to once-a-day therapy, in normal cases) and is cost effective.

The above four main talking points were used for brand building communication in various printed material and while presenting Ribonyl to potential doctors.

The foundation of uniqueness in Ribonyl branding and presentation has provided robustness for its success journey.

In pharma marketing, brands form a preferred approach for gaining business.  By making novel presentations, marketers can create the unexpected and gain mindshare of potential prescribers.

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