Winning pharma brands: Changing the rules of a market

Image of a woman with headphones on a laptop to show Winning pharma brands: Changing the rules of a market

Understanding the bigger questions that winning pharma brands ask to change the market and redefine the playing field.

The global health emergency that we are all a part of right now is an example of how conventions can be powerfully re-shaped, originating new trends that will drive market behaviour across multiple markets and in a way that some will respond to with real success. Multiple shifts will be at play. Examples may be a drive towards virtual connectivity, and towards a greater sense of community and belonging.

“Winning brands redefine the playing field; change the rules and ask the bigger questions”

The way that markets behave, the conventions they operate with and environment they create for businesses and products to win or lose within are always changing. Winning brands either respond fastest, with greater conviction or even better, shape these changes themselves.

This is critical because the ‘status quo’ is usually only good for market incumbents. The rule of three for markets put forward by the Boston Consulting Group describes the 40:20:10 paradigm. There is only really room for three significant entrants in any market and they tend to achieve respective shares in these ratios. So, if your brand is third or later to market in a given class, with limited functional difference then it would be extraordinary to expect anything better than 10% peak share.

New pharmaceutical products entering established markets always start on the back foot; product utility is largely being defined by customers and competitors against the prevailing market attributes, not by you and often not against the attributes you’d prefer. The playing field will not be easy to win on.

Winning brands redefine the playing field; change the rules and ask the bigger questions in three areas:

1. Undiscovered product value

  • Which attribute(s) of the treatment does the market risk overlooking that could improve clinical outcomes or utility?
  • Which patients may be missing out on benefits that the new treatment can specifically provide?
  • What changes could the treatment enable to the way the wider pathway delivers outcomes and efficiency?

2. Policy (& behaviour) limitations

  • Which stakeholder group(s) would need to change their behaviour and conventions for value to be discovered?
  • What kind of policy already exists in this market (formal treatment guidelines, commissioning policy, informal conventions of stakeholder groups)?
  • What are these missing and who is losing out because of this?
  • What new policy/guidance/convention could improve treatment utility, outcomes, system use or costs?

3. Expert belief

Making behaviour change happen alone is virtually impossible; a congregation of voices is needed. Clinical experts are often the main source but other stakeholder groups (such as payers), professional bodies or patient/carer
groups may also be key.

  • Who believes in our cause and will be willing to help change the game?
  • What will the package of critical activities be that will prove sufficient to break an existing habit and start a new one?

The vehicles needed to be developed alongside these allies may vary but their application requires thought and activity on multiple fronts to encourage, enable and engage with sufficient emphasis to catalyse a change in behaviour.

What’s possible

The competitive battle in the erectile dysfunction market was dominated by a marketing heavyweight. The manufacturer defined the most important attribute for treatment selection as efficacy or strength of the effect on the patient. A market was born, and a little blue pill took it by storm. Most GPs were aware and generally willing to prescribe.

This was the landscape as new oral competitive entrants arrived. The tempting approach may have been to explain why slight compound differences of a similar pill could provide better efficacy. But those competing for market share realised they would be falling into the leader’s trap – raising the attribute that fuelled their growth without convincingly bettering performance against it. No amount of promotional firepower would unseat the leader.

Instead of taking a confrontational position, the competitor recognised that the strength of their molecule lay in duration of action, albeit not yet valued in this way. With the help of experts and patients’ partners they shifted the perspective from purely practical to practical and emotional. From a situation where intimacy seemed to need to be ‘planned and organised’ to one where spontaneity and ‘normal romance’ was possible. The challenger ended this battle with the dominant UK market share.

Triducive has a wealth of experience of supporting healthcare brands to shift the field and increase their relevance with wider clinical audiences, commissioners and policy-makers – it takes structure, discipline and skilful engagement…but is achievable and arguably is the most effective way to differentiate, demonstrate value and win.

To find out more about market shaping, sign-up to the Pf Webinar Shaping healthcare markets to serve real brand purpose | Wednesday 8 July | 12:30pm |

Read more articles from the June issue of Pf Magazine.