Whatever your definition of marketing, the 4 Ps of product, price, promotion and place are ‘where the rubber meets the road’. Philip Kotler says that the “Marketing Mix is the set of controllable variables that the firm can use to influence the buyer’s response.” But do we as pharmaceutical marketeers leverage the ‘mix’ as well as we could?
There is no doubt that many organisations have become more marketing led in their R&D activities, with active marketing involvement in shaping the Target Product Profile at an early stage. But how good are we are carrying this thinking through the lifecycle? After we’ve launched, do we tend to just accept the product we have or do we think about how our customers and consumers could have a more positive experience? Is our packaging convenient? Is our product easy to use? What do our patients think? Are we focused on asking and answering these and similar questions? If, not maybe we should be!
Enter the consumer market and you expect to see price used as an active lever. You expect to, and usually do, see the price of products reduce as they extend from a small group of early adopters to reach the early and late majority. Now turn to pharma. Do we even think about price as a changing part of the mix through the lifecycle? Generally speaking, in Primary Care markets the answer is no. Is this a luxury we can continue to afford?
At first glance the ‘place’ has changed little, if at all, for POM products. But think again, in the last 10-15 years we have seen the emergence of the home delivery market, the move of retail pharmacies into hospitals and a whole plethora of internet pharmacies. Have you really considered how to incorporate these changes into your marketing plans?
Read the average pharma marketeer’s brand plan and you might be forgiven for thinking that the marketing mix is in fact the promotional mix. How to get key messages delivered to the target audience, whether via direct selling, PR, advertising, direct marketing or sales promotion will be explored in minute detail. The question is are we missing a trick?
Could we be getting more from our brands by stepping back and redefining the mix? Should we be thinking about more innovative use of pricing strategies? Do we need to think about what place ‘place’ has? We think the answer to all of these is…yes.
By all means perfect your promotional mix, but use all of the tools at your disposal to maximise your brand’s potential. Be first to change the pharma rulebook and the world is your oyster.