Maureen C. Regan, RCW Group

Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-06-03-2010, Volume 0, Issue 0

The pharma industry has only recently seen the kinds of price pressures that the retail industry has operated under for decades.

The next five years are going to be extremely important in emerging markets. It's critical to have developed expertise in each local market.

Maureen C. Regan

There is definite value in having a foot on the ground, and making sure that everyone is marching to the same beat. Networks are essential; from the start, they share the tools, culture, and best practices that make it possible for everyone to work as a cohesive team.

At RCW, we have been keeping a close watch on emerging markets over the last few years. Over 50% of our work is global; we make absolutely sure that our people have a good understanding of what is happening around the world. This directly translates into success for our clients.

The McCann Healthcare network has the biggest global reach among healthcare communications networks: 86 offices in 33 countries, and offices in 8 of IMS' 17 new Pharmerging countries (including offices in 5 of the 7 previously identified as Pharmerging). McCann is the majority owner of all agencies in the network, effectively ensuring that everyone is working toward a common goal.

Value pricing

Maximizing value requires a different approach when considering the way pharmaceutical companies do business. Other industries have operated on a value-creating model as a means to survive in an environment in which they can no longer compete on cost. As price pressures from payers become so strong that no company can compete on price alone, pharma companies must find ways to work collaboratively with payers.

  • Both parties must achieve a value-maximizing partnership that is specific to the needs of that particular payer and patient population.

  • The days of pharmaceutical companies providing free services and astronomical rebates—in hopes of making it up in volume—are numbered.

  • The rebate-by-volume contracts that we see today are going to be replaced with a truer partnership. Both parties will bring something to the table in the hopes of achieving a common goal: better health outcomes and a reduction of total healthcare costs.

It has been well documented that increased use and compliance of pharmaceutical products reduces total healthcare costs for many disease states. Everyone can win in a model that is focused on early treatment and prevention.

Emerging Mobile

Given the rapid penetration of mobile devices in emerging markets, there are enormous opportunities to leverage these devices—to reach more people quickly, increase disease awareness, generate personalized communications using CRM techniques, and encourage physician-patient dialog using EMR platforms. Best of all, the technology is allowing us to do this in a cost-effective manner.

Mobile penetration in emerging markets is expected to grow from 46% in 2008 to 95% by 2013. Mobile phones are a great leveler; they're integral to people's lives regardless of socioeconomic background. Most people have genuine personal bonds with their phones, and likewise, the programs that are used on them. These tools can be very effective in emerging regions to help raise awareness of disease, educate about new treatments, provide healthcare monitoring services, and much more.

Another important aspect of digital marketing in emerging regions is in personalized communications. Using CRM techniques, digital media can provide personalized information and services in a format, frequency, and tone that is both desirable and customizable to each specific recipient.

Ask first and then listen

As marketers, we can "ask" first before communicating with our audience. We can be cognizant of the emotional needs of users by customizing communications in contextually sensitive ways. We can give valuable information while respecting the social customs of emerging regions.