Pharmaceutical Marketing – A lot better than FMCG

A most common discussion point amongst pharmaceutical marketers have been –

“Marketing of FMCG products is much easier than Pharmaceutical products. In Pharmaceuticals – We can’t do much in public space, being it a highly regulated market. In FMCG space, you have the freedom to market products directly to end-users. Marketers of FMCG products can do anything and everything they want to create brands”

I do agree that the Pharmaceutical market is highly regulated and you can’t directly reach end-users i.e., patients with brand promotion. But this does not convince me at all that you can’t make big brands as FMCG in the pharmaceutical market.

Focusing on the core of your brand – and staying committed to that focus – is the key to building a big brand.

Traditionally, in the pharmaceutical industry core of most brands & its promotion has always revolved around features of the product, its indications, the established efficacy, safety, tolerability seen in clinical studies.

But my question is who stops you from going beyond and understanding how your brand impacts the lives of patients (End User)?

Who stops you to position your brand based on the patient benefits and patient insights in spite of fighting in the same cluttered market of me-too products within category? 

And the pharmaceutical marketer whoever thought of patient and patient journey first (end-user) and not just about getting the prescription of the doctor has made classical examples of mega-brand in pharmaceutical space as well.

We say – FMCG Marketers have the freedom to choose ways and means of product promotion to end-users. But, we forget – In that case even end-users get the freedom to choose your brand or drop unlike pharmaceutical products – where the patient doesn’t have much choice with him/her.

We usually forget factors influencing the purchase of FMCG products. It is again the same free world, which influences the purchase of each FMCG product starting from self to peers, family members, friends, social media, print & outdoor advertisement, and even the display of retail outlet. Whereas, in the pharmaceutical industry, major influencing power lies with doctors prescribing the product ranging from 60 % to as high as 90%.

Other influencers in the pharmaceutical industry such as chemists, hospitals, institutions, regulatory authorities, etc. has very less influencing power most of the time.

In FMCG, you can’t ignore any source of influence as the purchase depends on cumulative influence made by the environment around the end-user.

Trust Me – In such a complex environment, the marketing of products becomes much more difficult than our regulated environment of pharmaceuticals.

So, My opinion remains – In Pharmaceutical space also if you consider the brand as assets that drive strategy, if you go beyond functional benefits and focus on value addition to patients creating “Must Haves” rendering competitors irrelevant and if you remain constant with your crystallized brand promise over the years. No one can stop your brand becoming the mega-brand.

It’s the time to move beyond the obstacles of your perceived limitations and carve out opportunities for yourself from the strengths.

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