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Creating Brand Value In China: Two Case Studies


Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive-06-03-2010
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After an active campaign spanning nearly six years, the epidemiology data showed a decline in the number of patients with Hep B, from 1.3 million to 0.9 million.

Brand value is created by building trust on the evidence of the brand's effectiveness in addressing a health condition. The perception that a brand delivers quality, benefits customers, and generally provides a positive experience strengthens trust in the product and its ability to address a health condition. How to go about building this trust is a function of several factors such as:

  • nature of the disease or disorder, i.e., chronic vs. acute;

  • customer's knowledge of disease or disorder;

  • existing perceptions of disease and its treatment outcomes;

  • impact of disease on patients, their family, and society as a whole;

  • involvement of healthcare stakeholders with the disease.


No one process fits all in creating brand value. No one action can convince customers that a brand's benefits are more credible, distinctive, and compelling than what is available. Every brand needs to be evaluated on its own circumstances. Consider these two diverse campaigns, both implemented by McCann Healthcare in China within the last three to four years. One involved Hepatitis B awareness (chronic disease management with long-term anti-viral treatment). The other was for Prevenar (Pneumococcal Disease vaccine brand building in private market):

Hepatitis B Awareness Campaign in China

For the GSK Hepatitis portfolio, the challenge was to build awareness of the gravity of the disease among key stakeholders and establish the necessity of long-term treatment for this disease.

Despite the existance of 1.3 million Hep B patients in China, no one thought that the disease was serious. And physicians believed that long-term treatment with anti-virals wasn't good for patients. Due to the lack of knowledge about the disease's threats, patients and the patients' families were the ultimate sufferers.

For patients, the brand value was created at two levels. First by "disease education" to focus important stakeholders' attention on the urgent need for facilitating long-term treatment of Hep B patients.

Second, by empowering patients to seek and comply with their own long-term treatment of the disease. After an active campaign spanning nearly six years, the epidemiology data showed a decline in the number of patients with Hep B, from 1.3 million to 0.9 million.

So, the value here was not in terms of treatment pricing, etc., but in GSK's commitment to making Hep B a national issue and ensuring that patients continued long-term treatment regimes.

Prevenar: A Brand Launch Campaign

Here the challenge was for Wyeth (now Pfizer) to launch an expensive vaccine that targeted children under two years old for Pneumococcal Disease (PD). Wyeth's vaccine at US$ 470 a dose was four times more costly than the second-most costly privately purchased vaccine.

With China's one child policy and 25 percent of healthy children identified as carriers of pneumococcus, the need for the PD vaccine was high.

However, none of the stakeholders responsible for child health—the CDC, doctors, and parents—were even aware of the disease and its serious nature.

Prevenar brand value was created not only through disease education, but also by providing a platform for parents and doctors seeking information, conversation and continuous dialogue on the disease and its prevention. This was the first time a pharmaceutical company was able to align itself with the DCD, Ministry Of Health, KOLs, NGOs in child health, and mothers, using digital forums to essentially raise the importance of discussing and taking action on PD. The IMS Hospital Audit of 2009 has cited the Prevenar launch as the most successful pharmaceutical launch in China in the last five years.

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