Porters Five Forces for Pharma India in the 21st Century!

This is a hard-hitting article and likely to stir a hornets’ nest. It May hurt some pharma promoters. I strongly recommend that pharma promoters shouldn’t read this. But a forward-looking promoter will welcome this and love it.

Taking Porters five forces forward, do you know who is your competition?

Maybe he is sitting at the top, driving your firm. H/She could be the promoter!

And this gives a new perspective to Porter’s Five Forces which can drive competition in the 21st century for Pharma India. Here are the five forces.

  1. Poor digital transformation and adoption.
  2. Reluctance to have a separate team to drive phygital marketing.
  3. Refusing to acknowledge that patients will be your next breed of customers.
  4. Inability to utilize the mountains of data for growth strategy.
  5. Reluctance to metamorphose pharma sales force into knowledge workers.

Internal competition 1 – Poor digital transformation and adoption.

Digital Transformation is the process of upgrading the way of carrying out business activities. This would entail building new capabilities using digital technology, adapting current business trends, culture, For pharma India, patient-centricity and patient experiences should be on focus. The challenge is to meet changing business and market requirements for the 21st century. 

Writes Nitin Seth, “The pharmaceutical industry, unlike other sectors, have historically been laggards in digital adoption. A 2018 Deloitte-MIT Sloan Review Study found that less than 20 per cent of pharmaceutical companies had currently taken decisive and bold moves to take advantage of digital capabilities. Together, these developments present a tremendous opportunity for forward-looking companies to shape their digital agenda to address their primary concern of serving the patient better”.

If 2020-21 asked the question on the way you worked, 2021-22-23 will demand answers. The challenges you encountered in 2020-21 have created clear opportunities for growth in the coming years. Promoters should start preparing the brand and sales management teams now for the next wave of transformation, or else be dinosaured.

Digital transformation should lead to a basic shift in the business models of pharma firms in India. The focus has to change to patient centricity and a superior patient experience at all the stages of the patient journey. Digitization is a must to respond to changes in padocumer’s behavior and distribution problems that could affect the industry in the long term.

Internal competition 2- Reluctance to have a separate team to drive phygital marketing.

Brand managers will continue to have tremendous workload in the coming times. It will be humanly impossible for a brand manager to work for 15-days in a month in the field, and take care of other brand management functions like writing and monitoring the brand plan, developing relations with KOLs, transforming his products into mega-brands and more.

Will he be able to fully drive digital marketing?

A digital marketers job requires full-time attention. Some activities like social listening do not have an endpoint. Social listening is a continuous journey and something every brand manager should implement into her strategy for the long haul. Understanding what padocumers want, and your brand’s perception and direction is vital information.

If a brand manager spends her time here, will she able to do full justice to her responsibilities as a brand manager.

Future sales and marketing teams will have a sales team, brand management team and digital marketing. All have to function cohesively.

Internal competition 3- Refusing to acknowledge that patients will be customers.

Again going back to Ted Levitt’s ‘Marketing Myopia’ the industry has to accept that patients will be the customers. Patient groups are now playing an increasingly important role in the valuation process – and this trend will accelerate, as healthcare expenditure everywhere continues to soar.

National Health Scheme – UK (NHS) has the aspiration that designing a service or solution around a patient’s wants, needs and preferences, can lead to better patient outcome. The NHS also aspires to make personalised therapeutic options more widely available

In line with this, pharma India also needs to think beyond the pill. the determinants of good health is the rich fast-food culture and poor exercise. Pharma India can play a more holistic role of improving India’s health. 

But first, you have to acknowledge that your customers of the future are the padocumers. Marketing teams will need to play a big role. “No decision about me, without me” will be the norm of the future.

Internal competition 4 – Inability to utilize the mountains of data and integrate it into your growth strategy.

The oft-repeated phrase is ‘Data is King’. Today it is blasphemous to find an excuse for not knowing what your padocumers want. The array of tools today enable the brand manager and digital marketer to capture a range of data at any particular stage in the patient journey or any marketing campaign. Gone are the days of mass, un-targeted communication efforts.

The digital age has brought about widened reach. Digital transformation requires robust business data. When you think about data, think about the zeros. As in 18 zeroes. As in, more than 2,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes (or 2 quintillion) of data created each day. 

This exorbitant amount of data can cause confuse you. The date can relate to anything and everything – your behaviour, your interactions, and seemingly endless activity across your businesses. It is often associated with internet-connected devices, your padocumers and relationships with them. It is absolutely essential to integrate this into your growth strategy. AI and ML software can help you turn these mountains of data into actionable insights. This will help you in your decision-making process because data arms you with a powerful tool – information.

Digital transformation begins when you make better, more informed decisions for your business.

Internal competition 5 – Reluctance to metamorphose pharma sales force into knowledge workers.

Who is a knowledge worker? Do not confuse it with a pharma rep whose product knowledge is as good as that of the brand manager.

What is my interpretation of Peter Drucker’s definition of a pharma rep as a knowledge worker? The pharma rep, or more truly the knowledge worker of tomorrow will require him to think to succeed. He would be expected to innovate often, routinely come up with new and better ways of doing things.

Instead of generating value for their firm through physical labor with their muscles, meaning the number of calls on doctors or pharmacies, they instead do it with their minds – keeping the patient outcome in the foreground.

What skills will a pharma knowledge worker of the 21st century need?

  • Unlearning the old skills of pharma reps.
  • Undoubtedly, top class communication skills.
  • Finding and accessing data and converting it into information. Ability to apply information for superior patient outcome.
  • Self-motivation and passion to be patient-centric.
  • Emotional intelligence.
  • A high curiosity quotient and seeker of knowledge.

This transformation in thinking, or operational transformation for digital transformation, should start at the top. 

The greatest challenge today is to overcome these internal hurdles, which I call as the internal competition. Let me end by quoting Peter Drucker: “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”.

Written by:

Vivek Hattangadi – Chief Mentor at
PharmaState & The Enablers

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