M 01: A Gap Analysis of Marketers' Approach to Marketing of Pharmaceuticals and the Essential Functions of Marketing in Pharma 3.0
Sarthak M Athavle
Student, Representative and Coordinator, Student Chapter
SPP SPTM, SVKM - NMIMS College India
The objective of this paper is to analyse the gap between the original definition of marketing and the actual approach of current Pharmaceutical companies towards marketing their products, with respect to brand and customer relationship management in present scenario (Pharma 3.0).
This study has been conducted by reviewing secondary literature i.e textbooks & research papers. The basic foundation is based on Kotler's and Blackette's textbooks. The gap analysis is based on the research work of Josef Bednarik, Z. Ladha, S. J. Kumar, Hebert Jack Rotfeld, Christian Gronoos, etc.
The preliminary results of this study which were obtained by reviewing the secondary literature state that for a long time, Pharmaceutical marketers have just focused on their drug molecule as a product. Major investment has been primarily in drug R& D process, rather than strengthening the brand image of their product or creating multi modal approach to manage the customer’s relationship and loyalty well. The hypotheses that less emphasis has been laid over pharmaceutical brand management and that extensive focus has always been on developing and managing a pharmaceutical product / formulation / dosage form for the drug molecules is significantly true. The hypothesis that less efforts have been taken to cater to the same customer in different ways and means, so that he chooses his convenient way to get informed about the product without being disturbed with unnecessary information (as is the fundamental principle of marketing 3.0) leading to customer retention , is often overshadowed by a sales-oriented focus rather than customer friendly cost-effective consideration, holds significantly true. This states that the Pharmaceutical marketers lack in terms of marketing innovation and creativity. The product related functional or physical aspects, such as pharmaceutical dosage forms, bio availability, half life, delivery systems, etc. have only been the key areas of focus. Brand management, even for branded generics, has heavily suffered with respect to creating a robust image or brand personality to uniquely position itself in customers' minds. Brand management in pharma, with respect to most of the countries of the world except US and New Zealand where Direct to Consumer (DTC) Advertisements are banned have seen even less efforts with respect to pharmaceutical branding of prescription products. Since most of the discussions have been limited to physicians or pharmacists, pharma branding has just been considered as science, and not an art.
As R& D pipelines are slowly drying up and regulatory stringency has increased worldwide the pharmaceutical marketers no more have the luxury of just depending upon scientific or physical aspects of the drug molecules. The key tactic for the companies to survive and stand out in this cut throat competition in the pharmaceutical industry would be giving adequate attention and emphasis on managing their brands as well as customers and consumers, in more non conventional ways. This can be done only by being more creative and innovative with terms to designing robust brand positions along with designing better and smarter, customer centric multi modal approaches towards managing the customer relationships, which would lead to top of the mind recall as well as retention and loyalty. Along with managing the pharmaceutical products, it would now be imperative for the marketers to focus not only on creating brand salience and awareness, but also, to create such positive feelings and emotions in minds of the customers that they are able to get into a unique relationship with the brand which would in turn bring about loyalty and generate repeat prescriptions. This implies that, even if the current era of the Pharmaceutical Industry Pharma 3.0 aims at focusing on health outcomes (that are more consumer related) and not just benefits (associated with the physical aspects of the product), most of the pharmaceutical companies contradict this by following the exactly opposite principle. These companies would soon become susceptible to the threats of saturation or competition, if their age old marketing practice - of just pampering themselves with the physical/functional aspects of their product, and generating figures (revenues), is not upgraded to a more customer oriented approach. These companies are at the greatest risk of facing "marketing myopia", if they do not start looking at the pharmaceutical marketing as an art, with a creative, innovative & customer centric approach.