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Pharma Outlet Contributed by Mark Stinson
Creating greater value for life-sciences research
There’s been a convergence of advancements in both life-sciences technology and pharmaceutical branding. We’ve noticed not only medical breakthroughs in biotech research, but also a more sophisticated marketing discipline to physicians and consumers. It is because of this convergence that there is a need to stress to life-sciences research companies the value of branding earlier in the developmental cycle. Earlier branding of life-sciences products accomplishes two important financial objectives: it can significantly move the product adoption curve to the left, which means a measurable acceleration of prelaunch awareness and launch sales uptake; and it can create greater value for future potential transactions, including copromotion rights, licensing royalties, or even acquisitions. driving Factors From a six-month series of interviews, we have documented five balancing factors faced by executives of research-based life- sciences companies (see table below). 1. Because so many discoveries are being made by small and start-up labs, marketers face the daunting scale of a blockbuster launch. This is true even in traditional specialty markets that now have billion-dollar potential. 2. When it comes to managing Wall Street expectations, the discovery company is often pressured to grow or build its brands alone. On the other hand, if a larger pharmaceutical company licenses or acquires a product, stock analysts expect to see rapid indicators of highly likely returns. 3. Timing the shift of resources from product research and development to brand marketing can be quite difficult. The typical CEO of a research-based company has spent years seeking capital resources to fund development, but knows a product launch will require a new level of human resources. This is particularly true for a sales and marketing organization where clinical researchers have less experience in building such a team. 4. Most independent research companies walk an autonomy tight-rope. There is an intense desire for self-reliance by science discoverers, but the involvement of new funders or licensors inevitably leads to some shared control. 5. Perhaps most surprising is that many research company executives still think a medical breakthrough can literally sell itself. They usually imagine unquestionable trial results in every phase of study, an indisputable ability to publish in the best peer-reviewed journals, and an incontestable ground-swell of clinical support leading to an almost universal change in medical practice. There is simply too much evidence to the contrary and too many examples of disappointment when this approach fails to achieve success. It is now commonly believed among the most successful brand marketers that blockbusters result not just from great science, but also from great promotional branding. It is important within this environment of convergence that executives at life-sciences research companies think about processes that connect the scientific product innovation to drive the company’s efforts through brand positioning, packaging, put-ups, patient programs, public relations, and more. Constructing the Brand One of the steps in the complete innovation process is a verbal and visual nomenclature, or brand construction, that is created to communicate a product’s performance and promise. It represents an expression of the product’s strategic direction and a blueprint for brand-building. There are a number of potential areas during the early phases of research and development that companies should consider. These include creating the branded names, copy, graphics, and symbols for the product’s: molecule/generic name, methodology of research, manufacturing process, mechanism of action, medicinal class or category, mode of delivery, market segment, and medical promise. Research company executives interested in exploring this approach should add branding experts to their organization’s circle of advisors. They may also find companies that they already are collaborating with – such as reagents and assay suppliers, lab equipment suppliers, and contract research organizations – have brand resources that could be shared. Finally, if there is a comarketing arrangement being considered, these executives should assess the partner company’s branding experience, a key evaluation criteria beyond market experience and salesforce size. The convergence of technology and branding advancement creates an atmosphere well-suited for increasing the value of life-sciences research through earlier branding. This strategy can help significantly move the product adoption curve to the left and can create greater value for the company’s future potential transactions. Mark Stinson is president of STINSON Brand Innovation Inc., Chicago, a life-sciences brand consultancy that defines the core strengths of brands, then helps grow them through four service dynamics: strategic expression, idea facilitation, brand construction, and team motivation. For more information, visit stinsonbrandinnovation.com. PharmaVoice welcomes comments on this article. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.PharmaVoice welcomes on . E-mail us at email@example.com. driving Factors For Discovery Companies driving Factors For Pharmaceutical Companies Specialty markets now have billion-dollar potential Daunting scale of blockbuster launch Many discoveries being made by small and start-up labs Often pressured to grow/build Managing Wall Street expectations Licensing/acquiring company needs brands alone through early stages assurances of highly likely successful return Capital resources Timing the shift of resources from Human resources product R&D to brand marketing Desire for independence by discoverers Walking the autonomy tight-rope Need for control by funders/licensors Many still think breakthroughs can Assessing the scope of product potential Most now believe blockbusters are made literally sell themselves