Can Pharma really learn from CPG?

pharma-pillsPharma’s traditional approach to getting in touch with Physicians and trying to promote their products has been seen as struggling to achieve its goals.  A recent industry report indicated that the number of Physicians who were not accessible has gone up from about 20% about 5 years ago to about 40% in 2010.  Many of these are because the organizations that the Physicians work at are creating policies that prevent sales reps from making calls on their physicians.

This is one of the key reasons that Pharma is starting to explore / experiment with the multi-channel marketing model.  Something that that CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) has refined and fine tuned a long while ago to a great deal of success.  But it has been fairly slow to adopt.  However a recent MIT interview with the Commercial Operations Head at Pfizer showed how the Pharma companies coming under intense financial pressure both from the inevitable patent cliff and the lack of a near term pipeline are almost scrambling to find the magic potion to survive this impending disaster. The article sounded like “all hands on deck” to not just gather all the possible/available data, but also embracing the cutting edge technologies like Hadoop and trying to blend the structured and non-structured worlds to find that magic potion.  They have been open to explicitly say that

a) they are not looking to their peers but to other industries like CPG, which in a way highlights the seriousness this industry is in, to learn from non-traditional sources.  This is going to be a huge challenge, since finding resources who will be able to bring the CPG context and expertise to the Pharma situation is very hard to come by.

b) they are also looking to advanced technologies around data mining, predictive analytics etc for gaining the needed edge and not just basic reporting.  This again is a tough time consuming approach, since its impossible to predict what could be uncovered.  This again highlights the dire straits the industry is in to leverage what ever possible to to deal with the situation.

Its times like this that sometimes brings the best out of enterprises.  Its fingers crossed to see if Pharma can “invent out of this situation”.

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Saama Executives is an exclusive group of thinkers, leaders, mentors and innovators within the company. The members of this group come together from time-to-time to pen their thoughts on topics that would matter the most for the industry. Over the last few years, the group has written some brilliant pieces of Insurance, Life-Sciences, Healthcare and CPG industry.


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Ashish Mirji says:

Drawing parallel’s with CPG industry seems fair especially when both industries are selling products through similar channels (distributors and retailers)while the sales data (POS data) is received only through 3rd party syndicated data providers like IMS/WK for Pharma and Nielsen for CPG. But the contraints (sometimes regulatory) that the Pharma sales/marketing teams work with are huge barriers. It will be interesting to see how they overcome those barriers with an alternate marketing/sales strategy.

Hari Panem says:

The Personal Touch:

Well here is one of the interesting research conducted by Marketing professor at Santa Clara university. According to the research it is quantified that sales calls to each physician are more productive for the pharma companies than mass-marketing approaches. On one of the models developed by the researcher, it showed that the average increase in the profits from individual targeting was 23% more compared to mass-marketing. And it seem to have worked well and showed consistent results for various brands that were surveyed. I think it is just a matter of how firm are the pharma companies in their strategic behavior and not underestimate the benefit of individual based targeting.



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