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The Science of Marketing Meets the Art of Brand Building

by Deni Deasy | May 27, 2019

There's a widely held belief that launch success irrevocably shapes the future of brand performance for a pharmaceutical product. We now know there is more to the story of a brand’s success over time than can be explained by the launch alone.

Markets today are undergoing an evolutionary change. While they used to be fairly stable, punctuated by new data or competitive launches or loss of exclusivity, they are now more dynamic than ever – rapid competitor entries with compressed timelines and accelerated approvals, multiple indications across therapeutic areas, a changing pricing and reimbursement landscape, and evolving patient engagement.  Our markets are also being impacted by new therapeutic categories, such as biosimilars, gene therapy and immunotherapy, which are changing the ways diseases are treated as well as the way in which markets are organized and managed. These changes within pharmaceutical markets around the world demand a recalibration of the industry’s approach to brand management.

The truth is, that because there are so many competitors and factors that affect performance, you must constantly prep for a highly fluid market environment. There will be new indications, with new clinical data or label changes, and evolving access dynamics either for your product or for a competitive product. These are huge moments in terms of their potential to enhance and improve your product, or for your product to lose ground. The successful marketer must be able to anticipate these pivotal moments and have a plan for navigating them.

Building Brand Equity

Making continuous improvements to a brand throughout the course of its lifetime is not only possible, the relentless pace of change within pharmaceutical markets demands it.

Brand equity is the gap between current market share and the ‘preference share’ being expressed in relation to the brand by payers and prescribers. Therefore, building brand equity is the key objective for marketers – whether you’re talking about how you’re positioned in the minds and hearts of physicians and patients, whether your market access dynamics are getting in the way of brand equity or whether it’s being impacted by how you’re executing your strategy.

Brand equity is a leading indicator of where your market share is likely to go. If your brand equity is continuing to grow, you can expect your market share to usually follow. However, if your brand equity starts to slip, your brand share will also eventually slip – if not immediately, then as soon as your customers have another option.

Brand equity can and will change as your brand and your competitive landscape changes –detecting changes happening before they are reflected in market share, and anticipating and planning for evolving market events are critical for optimizing your brand’s potential.

Brand equity is always assessed in relation to your market and your competitive set. It’s a leading indicator of whether you have weakness or problem on the horizon or whether the brand has an unrealized potential upside that could be unlocked.

Moments that Matter

Alongside brand equity, brand opportunity defines the levers to be manipulated in order to either improve brand equity or capitalize on existing positive brand equity, to convert preference share into real market share. The key have to make sure that you’re anticipating the moments that matter, and monitoring effectively for those you haven’t anticipated, so that you can pick up issues or opportunities. Plan ahead for them because many of the levers you'll need to pull will take time. That means identifying the levers – whether it’s product enhancements, or market access or execution issues – then deciding on how to execute.

With our industry in a state of transformational change, competitive pressures are at perhaps an all time high. For that reason, marketers constantly need to stay on top of their brands, as in the end it’s all about constant monitoring and continuous improvement. Brand equity is a early indicator of whether you have opportunity or risk around the next bend in the road.

In Kantar's latest Edge of Insight report – "BRAND PLUS™ FRAMEWORK: Applying the Science of Marketing to the Art of Brand Building" – we examine the steps you can take to act on the moments that matter to optimize your brand's trajectory. I highly recommend that you invest some time to review it. And, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.

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