In today’s pharmaceutical marketing scenario companies are adapting ‘me too’ strategies with the product that results in high noise level. In such situation, company wants to create its own identity via competitive and innovative strategies to promote their product and capture the market.
Pharmaceutical marketing is mainly based on personal communication than non-personal communication like advertising, publicity etc. so emphasis is given only on personal selling to drive the product into the market.
As the marketing mix concept, same concept is governing in the promotion mix as source mix includes four major marketing communicators in pharmaceutical marketing.
2. Medical representative
4. Trade channels.
These four marketing communicators gives rise to a synergistic effect to communicate the product to is ultimate user and gain a competitive advantage over it.
As company is not a single identity, it is a group of people having its own created credibility, reliability, honesty etc. that remembers it by its name that results in company’s positive image and good will into the market
Medical representative is proves to be the best communicator of product to end-user. Furthermore it has seen that a competitive medical representative of unknown company get less response as compare to a well know company’s less competitive medical representative.
So image and goodwill of a company help them in long run especially for a new product launch. On the other hand a competitive medical representative reinforces the company’s image in long run.
Specialized media is another source of marketing communication. In his outsource media like newsletters, visual aid, national/international medical journal; magazines etc. are focused to communicate the message to its customer.
Trade channels also reinforce the company image by giving quality and prompt service to its customer in pharmaceutical marketing that further elaborated as.
Therefore source credibility includes mainly consistencies in message communication, positive attitude and designed specific targeted communication.
i. Perusing the Attention of Customer:
Understanding the attention process is important factor to deliver the right message in highly competitive environment in pharmaceutical marketing. A doctor listening hundreds of messages every day by all medical representatives remembers only few of them that catch his attention. A successful marketer always gains and retains the attention of the doctor to keep the message in his mind for a long time.
As all are human beings but capacity to choose or select the one among all is depends on its stimuli. It is also called as selective attention. Selective attention includes two factors as message factor and individual factors. In message factor attention of customer is depend on size of the object, attractive color, shape of the object, contrast and position of the message written etc. but in case of individual factor attention of the customer is based on his personal way of interest, attitude and belief, concentration and need based message.
ii. Role and Responsibility of the Marketer:
To catch the attention of his customer marketer seems to follow following thing to communicate their message in right direction as,
1. Every person gives response to some specific stimuli therefore it the role of marketer to find that stimuli and draw the strategy as per it to catch his attention.
2. Some specific customers are having their own liking and personal interest. So it the responsibilities of sales force to prepare marketing strategies to catch the attention as per their personal interest and liking.
3. Multiple sense strategy proves to be very successful in pharmaceutical marketing. Marketer has to stress all positive points such as that related to fragrance and test of product and encourages the customer to smell and test the product. Therefore need is generated by this way as product is touched smelled at least for once,
4. A good marketer frames his strategy as per the need of doctor. Generally doctor is having a fresh mood and can pay full attention at morning time before he starting practicing. Medical representative can meet him before they start their practice starts so that they can pay full attention for his message to receive,
In consonance with above discussed that is further elaborated with the example of the pharmaceutical companies like ‘German Remedies Ltd’, In April 2001 they are launched Asthmatic division ‘Respicare’. Before launching the division company carried out extensive survey for market potential in anti-Asthmatic segment with full strategic inputs compatible with market leader Cipla Ltd and Glaxo Ltd. Appointed talented and experienced field force that mostly experienced with Cipla Ltd with full enthusiasm launched their division across the country.
But after one year the financial status is not encouraging as sale has not picked up as predicted and company has to suffer and taken back their operations from few districts across the country.
The reasons could be:
1. German Remedies is well known for their mega bran ‘Deriphyllin’, an anti-asthmatic containing ‘Theophyllin’ as a Broncodialator and anti-inflammatory. Doctors are prescribing ‘Deriphyllin’ full fledge to maximum asthmatic patients.
The division ‘Respicare’ has used all their brand affixing ‘Deri’ word to them as Derihaler, Deriphyllin OD, Derinide etc. the mistake from the company side could be identification of set of doctors who are unsatisfied with other brands or satisfied with Deriphyllin itself.
Once the customer is fully satisfied with companies like Cipla Ltd then there are less chances of getting the prescription for other products, means creating need is the first step behind launching a new product in customers mind.
2. Second important reason is of attitude and belief. Most of the field force is from Cipla Ltd. They are well trained and convinced about Cipla’s anti-asthmatic product and their quality. It is difficult for field force to divert their mind and emotional attachment from Cipla Ltd to Respicare division.
3. As ‘speed’ is most important phenomenon in launch of new product at market place. Company has inadequately concentrated on new innovative strategy and copied all Cipla Ltd strategy for their satisfied customers only.
4. The most important to quote here company has forgotten to target end messenger i.e. ‘receiver’ in right direction. The first visiting list of doctors of field force contains more number of doctor i.e. diversified approach and contain maximum number of physician to concentrate. The target receiver of all messages for anti asthmatic range could be all chest physicians only and not cardiologist.
It is the best example to learn the need to analyze the customer’s prescription pattern, their liking and attitude towards the company. As competitive companies like Cipla Ltd, Glaxo SmithKline, Kopran Ltd etc are in this field from years together. It requires a large span of time to create the brand image in the market and be a successful marketer for the company like German Remedies (Respicare Div).
Product innovation and generating rational idea for it is a key to success. Irrational product innovation results into product failure. The considerable example is of India’s high-ranking company Pfizer Ltd. few years back they have made product innovation in their mega brand ‘Corex’ (a Cough preparation) as in the form of ‘Corex Gel’ with a packing differentiation as like a toothpaste gel.
‘Corex’ is high selling brand in cough preparation with this innovative idea they entered into market with full force. But after a period of time the sale was not too encouraging and in due course stocks also started expiring.
Beside this innovation product is failed the possible reason are of analysis of destination or receiver. In this case the product is targeted in the cough preparation market. Where around 50% of sale contributed as O.T.C. market and Pfizer has targeted this product to 50%of prescription based market of cough preparation.
Another reason is that in cough preparation market that mostly acquired by generic or local brand having high trade margin. So ‘Corex Gel ‘was promoted ethically with a average trade margin.
It is also true that Gel is generally perceived and used, as topical preparation by patient as well as doctors and cough preparation should be therapeutically taken by oral route. So this creates confusion in customers and doctors mind too.
iii. Understanding the Process of Perception and Attention:
Perception and attention are two important phenomenon in marketing. It is necessary to understand their individual as well as reasoning effect in marketing. Attention results when the individual person notices the stimulus and after the thinking process of this stimulus with his the process of perception starts which total results into image or impression. So perceptions come together when both the process of sensory stimulus and past experiences combines.
So understanding of customer’s belief and perception is a foundation stone in pharmaceutical marketing. The process of communication should be as per the perception power of the customer.
iv. Suggestive Model of Buying Process:
After delivering the message, respondent has to respond either positive or negative manner. In most of the case respondent i.e. doctor respond in positive manner as per the expectation that means message delivered in right manner.
There are various model, process suggested by many researchers regarding buying process. But in pharmaceutical marketing the suggestive process by which chances of positive response are high is given in step-by-step model as,
Step 1. Unawareness
Step 2. Awareness or knowledge built
Step 3. Create need or interest.
Step 4. Evaluation
Step 5. Experimental use
Step 6. Repeat use
Step 7. Feedback.
It is assumed that in first step that Doctor is not well acquainted with the product. Marketer has to introduce his product as per detailing schedule like complete detailing, giving product monograph, samples etc. and product is aware to the doctor. In this first step usually doctor gives positive response
Second step starts with product awareness to create need or interest in that product. To keep his interest constant and create the need of the product, marketer has to present his product by innovative strategy and catch his attention.
In third step doctor starts recognizes the product from product interest to product evaluation. He is able to pay some attention to your product in positive way. He starts to evaluate your product by his own attribute like therapeutic response rate, competitive advantages, patient compliance, Safety profile, economy, etc.
Step fourth is a significant step where doctor is ready for experimental use or trial phase. A successful product evaluation results into experiment on few patients. Doctor starts searching chances to prescribe the product as per products attribute and doctors need in all possible indications.
This step five is a crucial step for the marketer. In this step product is actually prescribed by the doctor after successful experimental use or trial. He starts to prescribe the product to the patient. So marketer has to go for the continuous product reminders to the doctors and remind their brand.
After step five, in sixth step doctor starts to give you more number of prescription i.e. repeat usages. Marketer gets continuous prescription support from doctor by keep his satisfaction level, constant and maintaining relative aspects of it.
In seventh step, feedback is getting from market place as from receiver to sender. If the product is rightly promoted as per the target audience then feedback is mostly a positive. In few cases feedback is observable or non observe i.e. medical representative who is much closer to watch the attention of the doctor and delivers the message can able to get good feedback from the doctors by simple face reading also.
But in some cases doctor may not express anything and create a ambiguity. So medical representative has to keep a continuous watch on his prescription behavior and liking. If the message is communicated accurately then positive response has to come. For a continuous prescription from the doctor marketer can use a feedback as an important tool.
So rational behind success in buying process is that right focus on target audience, promotional efforts should be rightly concentrated in second step of creating the need, target specific communication towards your key customers, and follow-up with continuous brand reminder and feedback.
A strategic approach towards achieving business goal through promotion includes a step- by-step process as discussed earlier and also few steps that are considerable are as
Step 1. Identification of target set of doctors and nature of market.
Step 2. Defining objective and tasks Step
Step 3. Planning promotional budget Step
Step 4. A right promotional mix.
Step 5. Evaluating strategic promotional plan and implementation.
Step 6. Preparing feedback report.