Agency Buzz: Branding in Emerging Markets

Jun 03, 2010

In March, IMS published a wake-up call—"Pharmerging Shake-up—" a report stating that 17 high-growth pharmaceutical markets were reflecting an unprecedented shift of industry growth to the world's emerging economies. And that these 17 countries will in aggregate expand by US $90 billion during 2009-2013 and will contribute 48 percent of annual market growth in 2013—up from 37 percent last year. IMS estimated that China (the leader of the pack in emerging markets) would account for $40 billion in traditional sales by 2013. And prescription drug sales in emerging markets are expected to nearly double in 2013 to $265 billion.

"We are seeing a new world order take hold within the pharmaceutical industry," said Murray Aitken, senior vice president, Healthcare Insight, IMS.

Agency Confidential interviewed 13 heads of topad agencies to find out what they were advising their clients—the key strategies and solutions to mounting successful global advertising campaigns especially to emerging markets.

Some of the challenges seemed obvious: having to communicate locally while marketing globally; dealing with different regulations and regulatory timetables; being cognizant of cultural complexities (in China red symbolizes good luck while blue and black represent death, as do storks, clocks and cranes). Others seemed less so:

Global Reach

Recently, pharma giant Bayer AG announced it was forgoing its relationships with 400 disparate agencies around the world and consolidating its $850 million account with Omnicom Group and WPP. The company said it expected to realize a 10 percent savings by doing so. Is this an effective strategy? Or is there a downside to such a move (aside from driving down agency compensations—as one critic pointed out)? And what would be an alternative?

Value pricing

In China, in particular, tremendous value is placed on the perception of quality, the benefit for the customer, and the overall customer experience with a company's product. How then does one go about convincing a customer that a product's benefits are more credible, distinctive, and compelling than whatever else is available?

Online marketing

In the US and Europe, the Internet has become a well-accepted tool for learning and distributing disease information and wellness knowledge. But the situation in emerging markets is very different because Internet penetration is low and cell phone penetration is very high. How then can digital marketing best be used in emerging regions so it is cognizant of the end-users (patients in various healthcare sectors) and sensitive to their needs, especially emotional needs?
Marylyn Donahue