At TMRE 2013 in Nashville this afternoon, Anne Hale, Ph.D., BAI US Specialty Care Lead, Pfizer and Chet Zalesky, President, CMI spoke about informing brand strategy in the pharmaceutical industry.
Today, in the pharma industry, you simply can’t hide from your competitors as there are very few of them. A few years ago, Pfizer had a brand that was competing in a market that was not dynamic. The company was confident that its segmentation was very effective and its share remained stable over time.
“We were feeling very comfortable with business as usual strategy, but there were disruptive elements on the business horizon,” explained Hale. We can predict the future far more accurately than most industries.”
According to Hale, you have to figure out what will be a game-changer vs. something like a “little pebble in a pond”. In the pharma industry this process must be begin years before the launch of a product because it needs a long lead time. “We realized we didn’t have a plan in place for this game-changer, and we could take a substantial hit,” said Hale.
So, what did Pfizer do? It wanted to proactively refine the brand strategy in anticipation of the disruptive event. The company needed to do several things including target opportunistic segments, prepare differential messaging, create new sales aids, and train the sales force.
Then, Pfizer held workshops to help frame the decision pathways it was thinking about, move to a quantitative study, and further, to a segmentation. Almost a year and half out, the company had develop all of the possible profiles and what it needed to be concerned about for the final process – and finally pull all the pieces together.
There are a lot of reasons people do something. Pfizer wanted to understand the different triggers to know why exactly they happen. According to Hale, Pfizer used the Decision Pathway Process to take the specific pathway created and find out what physicians are making decisions in a similar way. This allows for differential messaging to target the trigger points on their decision pathway, and ultimately, move from triggers to segments.
For Pfizer’s path, a lot of the variables had a lot to do with the patients. Hale said, “We got an idea what the market looked like (patient-centered, low risk, and key opinion leader), then we needed to look at what our segments looked like to develop a strategy.”
About the Author: Amanda Ciccatelli, Social Media Strategist of the Marketing Division at IIR USA, has a background in digital and print journalism, covering a variety of topics in business strategy, marketing, and technology. Amanda is the Editor at Large for several of IIR’s blogs including Next Big Design, Customers 1st, and ProjectWorld and World Congress for Business Analysts. She previously worked at Technology Marketing Corporation as a Web Editor where she covered breaking news and feature stories in the technology industry. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her at