5 Proven Ways for Pharma to Succeed at New Product Launch

With company valuations greatly dependent on the potential of a product pipeline, the cost of a failed product launch is high. As the number of therapies under development dwindles and regulations tighten, it is even more important that every new product fetches the desired outcomes. A fool-proof launch strategy is of utmost importance in this scenario. However, only one-third of all product launches succeed.

Why Do Most Product Launches Fail?

Improper market understanding – Pharma companies often fail to establish unmet needs and differentiate their products against those of competitors. They lack access to a large pool of target audience to conduct product differentiation studies and establish realistic pre-launch estimates. Moreover, a one-size-fits-all launch strategy does not work anymore and each launch needs to be customized as per the market’s size and perceived value or differentiation of product.

Insufficient market engagement – Recent survey reveals that 68% of doctors prefer to meet sales reps only once a month, and only 2% give more than 10 minutes of their time for such meetings.  With such a restricted window and limited reach of conferences organized around new products, it is difficult for the launch team to fully prep its audience before the actual launch.  Also, marketers often lack the avenues for reaching out to prospects not tapped by their sales teams.

Over-reliance on traditional, time-consuming marketing methods – With several players vying for the same set of consumers, the speed of launch activities is crucial. Digital media are facilitating a never-before-experienced reach and swiftness in marketing initiatives. Companies that make optimal use of these new age channels will enjoy the first-mover advantage. However, the pharma industry relies heavily on its field force, print media and in-person seminars to launch new products. Although a few drug companies have developed digital tools, these fail to secure physicians’ trust with regards to the authenticity and accuracy of content.

Failure to measure, analyze and learn  Currently, most companies collect launch data in a haphazard manner, analyze KPIs that track old events and actions, and then take several months to compile the data. This inhibits them from accurately tracking their mistakes, refining their processes and improving the probability of future successes.

Rigid strategies incapable of dynamic, real-time alterations to communications model – Most product launch teams gather marketing data at least one year before the proposed date of launch. However, the market often changes during this period, leaving the planned strategies and pre-launch sales estimates inaccurate. Even when the need for a revised approach is understood, rigidity in systems, structure and processes make real-time changes impossible.

5 Ingredients of Super Successful Launch

Put your consumer first – Pharma companies are known to focus all energies on the product while ignoring their consumers. This sets the stage for failure as it pays no heed to perceptual barriers, biases and misconceptions present in the physicians’ minds around a disease or therapy area. The services of market research agencies have limited use as they fail to capture multiple facets of doctors’ sentiments that best come out during interactive discussions. It is essential to place consumers at the center of the drug development activity. Consumer-generated media is the most powerful channel in a customer-centric model as it facilitates deep insights into your audience’s opinions and pain points.

Develop an appropriate channel mix – Launch managers need to think beyond their sales force, often the most expensive tool, for reaching out to doctors. Given the limited time at the doctors’ disposal and their increasing comfort with digital technology, online educational resources including e-detailing should be developed. Lengthy product descriptions and positioning statements need to be replaced with concise messaging and more audio-visual content. When multiple channels are adopted, it is critical that brand messaging stays consistent.

Save your A-Game for the month before and after the launch – This is the most crucial period for interacting with physicians and will determine the success of your product for years to come. The weeks leading to the day of launch must be used wisely to initiate discussions around the targeted disease and pique doctors’ interest around the new molecule. It has been observed that HCPs are most receptive to actionable content in the first few weeks after the launch. This is also the period when your content attracts maximum engagement in the form of information downloads, queries about medication guidelines, requests for communicating with company representatives, etc. It is crucial that this engagement delivers real value and builds trust with HCPs. Any error in this time-frame will prove costly and can be avoided by a carefully-planned content strategy.

Stay nimble – The biggest mistake pharma marketers can make is to not be responsive to changes in doctors’ information needs as the launch progresses. Sometimes, market forces throw unexpected challenges that call for sudden changes in marketing plans. A rigid communications model becomes a handicap in such a scenario. It is therefore, wiser to choose a more flexible communication channel that swiftly adapts to the audience needs.

Invest in analytics – Predictive analysis provides insights on what drives doctors and projects actual launch results. It is essential to track each and every digital touch point before and also after the launch to understand the outcomes of the launch strategy. Qualitative and not just quantitative feedback assumes great importance here. Mindset analysis is a powerful tool that helps understand how your audience thinks and perceives your product.

Docplexus’ Solution for New Product Launch

Reputed pharma companies trust Docplexus’ innovative ‘New Product Launch Solution’ for launching their products. Following are its key components:

  • Accurate assessment of market needs – A baseline survey is conducted on the target audience to understand its perceptions, opinions and information needs. Insights thus obtained are used to devise an appropriate content strategy.
  • Dedicated knowledge centers – An infocenter is created on Docplexus portal for clients to host their marketing messages (textual and audio/visual) to their target audience.
  • A well-thought yet agile yearly content marketing plan – Focused efforts to raise awareness about a disease or therapeutic area are planned. When the audience is primed well, content around the molecule is introduced. The content focus switches to the product post its launch. All content is effectively marketed to physicians through various means. At every stage of the process, multiple metrics (content visitors, votes, comments, time spent on posts, content topics, etc.), are tracked, based on which the content plan is refined.
  • An informative webinar – KOLs are important elements of marketing a new product to doctors. Docplexus recommends a series of webinars, with the first one 3 months after priming the audience with relevant content, and offers technical and media support for such video discussions.
  • Post-launch perception analysis – A survey is conducted at an appropriate time after the launch, the results of which are measured against those of the baseline survey. This gives clients a clear understanding of the impact that the launch has had on their market.

Docplexus – Pharma’s Trusted Marketing Partner
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