My takeaways from the PharmaBrand Summit

Last week’s PharmaBrand Summit in Monaco was attended by about 120 senior pharmaceutical industry experts from companies and agencies. This summit is about key trends in the market and how the industry is responding.

Over the 3 days, four themes kept surfacing – emerging markets, the opportunity of digital to engage consumers, the importance of the payer and the need for a different mindset.

Right from the Chair’s (Ashish Pal from Merck) keynote the importance of emerging markets was clear. 90% of the growth in the next 10 years will come from EMs, with infectious diseases and women’s health (contraception) among some key growth areas.  A panel discussion concluded that agility, adaptability (recognising that each market is different) and the willingness to appoint and develop local talent rather than parachute in ex-pats are vital.

Digital channels raised their head many times, especially with regard to engaging consumers and patients. I heard the phrase “awakening the European consumer” which, to be honest, I find a bit naive.  European consumers (consumers everywhere) don’t need us to “awaken” them – they are very much awake and active with or without us!  There was also a tendency to say “there’s not much we can do in social media because we can’t promote to consumers” as if “promotion” were the only possible way to communicate with people.  That is a mentality we need to leave behind.  More on this shortly.

Payers were the focus of day 2 with Janice Haigh of Astellas Pharma explaining “the Art and Science of Payer Marketing” and my colleagues from ConsultComplete, Ian Pickles and Zoe Gilbe, sharing some interesting Payer insight work, showing that healthcare models are converging, with all markets looking at co-pay models, and the need for product positioning to encompass the needs of all stakeholder in an increasingly complex environment. 

The pharmaceutical industry game has changed and we must change too. There was discussion about bringing more people in from outside the industry, and changing our mindset.  I enjoyed Gregory Miller’s (UCB Pharma) session.  He has “commercial advisory boards” drawn from experts in OTHER industries to bring a fresh perspective.  For example for a persistence issue in epilepsy he has invited people from other sectors where customer relationships and loyalty are paramount – like WeightWatchers, Nokia, Hertz, Miles&More – to be his ad board.  So far implementing the learning from these ad boards has generated real results in terms of market share.

A wonderful example of a different mindset, using skills from beyond our industry to think differently and using multiple channels to engage consumers for positive results was Pfizer’s ground-breaking “Get real, Get a prescription” campaign, led by Andy Widger (ex-BBC). 

This campaign’s goal was to reduce the sale of counterfeit medicines on the internet. It was executed using a number of channels including outdoor (actors dressed as builders mixing “drugs” in a cement mixer), print and the famous shocking “rat-poison” video that was shown in cinemas and late-night TV and has since gone global virally on YouTube and elsewhere.  The campaign generated a great deal of press coverage, was supported by the MHRA, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Heart UK and the Patients Association. 

There is evidence that over 5000 people in the UK are now not buying fake medicines that previously were – a small number but it’s a start. There are now moves to take the campaign global.

As a result of this program, Pfizer’s reputation has improved with the professional bodies involved – they are not sure about impact on the general public’s perception yet.  This is a great example of using consumer channels to improve medicine, to support customers and to enhance the industry’s own reputation.  Hats off to Andy and his team.

Overall it was an interesting couple of days and I met a good many global pharma leaders who are looking at changing how we do business.  Very refreshing.  If you were there, what did you think?

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Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Kanga, a digital transformation agency. I help global companies with their digital strategy and projects. Most of my clients are pharmaceutical companies.

Posted in Marketing
3 comments on “My takeaways from the PharmaBrand Summit

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by Kay Wesley of Kanga Health Ltd

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