The Bangalore Model of Marketing for the Pharma Industry of Bangladesh and India


This book H2H Marketing: The Genesis of Human-to-Human Marketing for Pharma is a product of the original work in German, Das Neue Marketing-Mindset by Waldemar Pfortsch and Uwe Sponholz. It means “The New Marketing Mindset”

One of the authors, Uwe Sponholz spent over nine months at Christchurch University, Bangalore, and this new marketing model, earlier known as the Bangalore Model evolved went on to become the H2H Marketing Model.

This article is my interpretation of this book to address the needs of the pharma industry specifically for Bangladesh, Nepal, Sei Lanka, Middle East Asia, and India.

Let me start by addressing the ‘WHY’ behind the book: H2H Marketing: The Genesis of Human-to-Human Marketing for Pharma

As I understand it, this book was written keeping in mind that every entrepreneur, every promoter or a CEO of a pharma company (pharmaco) must transform his organization into a ‘Firm of Endearment’, a firm loved by society, partners, investors, customers & clients, and employees.

Every employee and her family members, the padocumers (meaning patients and doctors as consumers) , the investors, the partners including vendors and suppliers, and the entire society at large should profit so that the organization earns higher profits.

Yes, every pharmaco promoter wants profits. Who doesn’t?

However, let me reiterate to the point of boring you, the pharmaco will earn higher profits only when every stakeholder and the society at large benefit and profit. What are Pharma Firms of Endearment?

1.   Pharma Firms of Endearment and H2H Mindset.

Let us look at the SPICE Model.

Pharma Firms of Endearment are those pharmaco’s which are driven by passion and purpose while creating shared value by engaging with its stakeholders.

Pharma Firms of Endearment align stakeholder interests with business strategy and act in positive ways that stakeholders recognize, admire and, in many cases are the beloved and the darling pharma firms of all stakeholders – including

  • Society at large meaning a great number of people in these countries will be benefited.
  • Partners of the pharmaco; including suppliers’ vendors, supply-chain partners.
  • Investors including the shareholders of the pharmaco.
  • Customers – meaning the padocumers (doctors & patients), retail pharmacies and hospital pharmacies.
  • Employees – at all levels – whether the humble medical representative or the CMO, CPO, COO or the CEO. Employees get a feeling that they are partners in the pharmaco.

If the doctors alone are short-term winners, this is clearly not so smart for the patient or the pharmaco; it is inane on a long-term basis.

If the patients alone are winners, this is clearly not so smart for the doctor or the pharmaco; it is absurd on a long-term basis

When both the patients and the doctors are winning, but the pharmaco is losing, then it is wasteful marketing

The most hypothetical situation and to me, a stupid one at that, is when a pharmaco, its partners, its padocumers are winning, its investors and suppliers are winning but the society and the employees aren’t.

Employees come first and rest everything next. 

When you gear for long-term gain for the doctor and the pharmaco, and when your marketing efforts are oriented to solving the human problem – the patients’ problem with a focus on medication outcome – it is H2H Marketing

It is the task of any and every Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) to create the highest benefits for the padocumers and the pharmaco.

  • The CMO must work for a higher purpose by creating Human-to-Human Marketing
  • H2H Marketing has the great ambition to leave malpractices behind.
  • H2H Marketing offers an ethical and collaborative way of engaging with padocumers.
  • Co-create value together as a team, rather than at the expense of each other.
  • Pharmaco’s practicing H2H Marketing are focused on co-creating value together with their padocumers and communicating their value offerings appositely.

And to make this happen, it is necessary to develop the H2H Mindset 

The foundation for H2H Mindset is trust. Marketers need to understand the new reality of cocreation to build trust. Co-creation is an integral part of H2H Marketing. Because of its essential significance for success in today’s marketplace, service orientation in the sense of the Service-Dominant Logic (S-DL) is the key trait of the H2H Mindset.

The H2H Mindset is a component of the Bangalore Marketing Model (H2H Marketing Model). It is a prerequisite for a successful implementation of H2H Marketing on a corporate as well as on an individual level.

Mindset is your dynamic logic of thoughts that trigger your actions. It is co-determined by the context. Hence, so essential for every individual in the pharma industry “First develop the H2H Mindset and the rest will follow seamlessly“.

Nothing can happen without first having the H2H Mindset.

The best way for your brand to be distinct and stand out in the market is to give people what they want, and that is exactly the kind of approach that Human to Human Marketing (H2H) offers.

We now move on to the three strong pillars of Human to Human Marketing. It is the integration of

  • Design Thinking
  • Service-Dominant Logic
  • and Digitalization

within the framework of the H2H Marketing Model.

These three pillars enable marketing decisions to be meaningful for every stakeholder of the pharmaco.

2.   The Growing role of Design Thinking in marketing

Design Thinking aims at improving the approach to innovations resulting in human-centered or more correctly for pharmaco’s, patient-centered solutions with an enhanced padocumer experience, such as new products which can help patients and caregivers, or services. For example, organizing patient advocacy groups, or at times, even joining hands with competitors.

For instance, in India, companies like Abbot, MSD, USVP, Sun Pharma, Novartis and Eris can join hands to fight diabetes mellitus.

H2H Mindset is all about ‘CO-OPETITION’ and NOT COMPETITION.

Design Thinking is not an exclusive proprietary of designers.

Brand managers, R&D, F&D, Finance, HR, supply chain and manufacturing, must come together to solve the human problem. Lest you end up designing corona vaccines that need to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius and therefore useless to Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, or the African continent. No empathy with the end-users, the patients.

Design Thinking revolves around a deep interest in developing an understanding of the people for whom you are designing the products.

In pharma it is for the patients and the caregivers at home with whom a patient spends over 98% of the time.

•      Empathize – with patients; seek help from the caregivers at home, patient-advocacy groups. The pharma brand manager may even spend time and live with a patient for a day or two.

•      Integrative thinking – listen, deeply listen with the intent to understand every argument, squeeze out the best from each argument and evolve a fresh solution.

•      Define – the patients’ needs, the needs of the caregivers at home, and understand the real human problem. Then add the insights you have generated.

•      Ideate – by challenging assumptions and creating ideas for innovative solutions

•      Prototype – to evolve better solutions

•      Test the solution

Let us move on to the next pillar: SD-L

3.   The Rise of Service-Dominant Logic

S-DL emphasizes the importance of co-creation of value in collaborative ecosystems – A collaboration amongst the firm, the padocumers, the caregivers at home

Service-dominant approach integrates the product, price, and service dimensions of an offering.

This helps marketers think more like their customers, which can help them add value to their firm’s products.

S-DL lays emphasis on co-creating the brand together with the padocumers in pharma.

With S-DL, the value proposition of your brand is co-created in collaboration with the padocumers and the caregivers at home.

Marketers need to understand the new reality of co-creation, which forms an integral part of H2H Marketing.

Case Study – H2H Concept: The Service-Dominant Approach to Marketing.

I recently asked Avantika Katre, a management trainee in a large pharma company and a client of mine:

“Avantika, can you tell me who determines which product is better?”

Avantika gave a mischievous smile (and probably said to herself – “What a stupid question Vivek Sir”) and instantly replied  

“Of course, the manufacturers and the marketers do, Vivek Sir.”

“Yes Avantika, you are right,” I said “this is the traditional way of thinking, and nothing wrong with this. However, what happens when you start taking a product-oriented approach?”

Without waiting for her to reply, applying my learnings from Philip Kotler and the book “H2H Marketing” I said, “But think Avantika, can this not result in marketers focusing too much on the product itself and not enough on the padocumers or service-related factors that padocumers want?”

“Never thought of that Sir. Can you tell me more about this service-dominant approach?”

“It would be my pleasure Avantika. I recently learned this from Philip Kotler. Now let us apply this in pharma”

“Who are our customers? Patients via the doctors, right, or the padocumers as I love to call them? They will compare the products in conjunction with the services that come with it.”

“Do you remember the Boston Consulting Group article I had shared with you a couple of months back? ‘What Do Patients Want, and Is Pharma Delivering?’ It said <Doctors were more likely to prescribe medication from a pharma company they considered more patient-centric.”> So, if a endocrinologist compares two brands of sitagliptin for his patients of diabetes both from equally strong and reputed companies, he will prefer that company which gives something extra to his patients – the patient-centric service. Januvia is a big success in India today, precisely because of ‘Sparsh’, the patient-centric activity initiated by the brand management team of MSD. That’s what the service-dominant approach is – the Service-Dominant Logic.”

“In other words, the complete offering is the basis of comparison between two products. And by the ‘offering’ I mean the product, its price, and the service. The advantage of the Service-Dominant Logic is that it integrates the product, price, and service dimensions of the offering.”

“Can you tell me one advantage of this, Avantika?”

Avantika thought over it carefully before replying, but didn’t look too confident of her response: “Will Service-Dominant Logic make budding marketers like me think more like the patients, and can help me add value to my company’s products? Moreover, will it not make my brand distinct?”

“Wow, Avantika. You are absolutely on both counts!”

“For instance, PharmaState Academy educators offer not just an ordinary workshop or a course. The add-on service is a one-on-one interaction of the participants with the educator to discuss individual issues and problems. That is the Service-Dominant Logic of PharmaState Academy. Now PharmaState Academy has offered not just an ordinary product (a course or a workshop) but a service that adds value, along with it. And do you know Avantika, who created this innovation? It was created by the participants themselves. It is just that PharmaState Academy listened to the learners”.

“And there are many more such examples in the business world. And here Avantika, let me tell you the story of Post-it Notes.”

The Birth of Post-it Notes

Dr. Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist, was busily researching adhesives in the laboratory. In the process, he discovered something peculiar: an adhesive that stuck lightly to surfaces but didn’t bond tightly to them.

At that time 3M wanted to develop bigger, stronger, tougher adhesives and this is not what they wanted.

What Dr. Spencer Silver discovered later was something called microspheres which retain their stickiness but with a “removability characteristic,” allowing attached surfaces to peel apart easily.

For many years, Dr. Silver did not know what to do with his invention. Till one day, his friend Art Fry told him he was frustrated.

Every week while practicing with his church choir, he would use little scraps of paper to mark the hymns they were going to sing in the upcoming service. By Sunday, he’d find that they’d all fallen out of the book of hymns.

He needed a bookmark that would stick to the paper without damaging the pages.

Art Fry partnered with Dr. Spencer Silver; they began developing a product. And that’s how Post-it Notes was born.

The end-user was co-creating a product with Dr. Spencer Silver.  

“I thought, what we have here isn’t just a bookmark,” said Fry. “It’s a whole new way to communicate.”

“Wow! A very interesting story!” said Avantika.

“Now Avantika, can you now tell me what Service-Dominant Logic mindset means?”

“Sure! The Service-Dominant Logic mindset means that companies, markets, and society are fundamentally concerned with the exchange of service – not the goods. The applications of knowledge and skills of the company are for the benefit of the end-user customer – the patient in pharma. That is, service is exchanged for service; all firms are service firms; all markets are cantered on the exchange of service, and all economies and societies are service-based.”

“Absolutely, Avantika! Hence, marketing thought, and practice should be deeply rooted in Service-Dominant Logic. You should break free from Goods-Dominant Logic.”

“Service-Dominant Logic embraces concepts that companies instead of marketing to padocumers, should market with padocumers, and other value-creation partners in the firm’s value network – all the stakeholders”.

“So how would you like to summarize this topic Avantika?”

“Let me try,” said Avantika, “and correct me when I go wrong”.

“In Service-Dominant Logic, the focus is not on products, but on the padocumers value-creating processes. The product’s value emerges for the patient and is perceived by them. The focus of marketing must be on value creation rather than value distribution. Am I right Vivek Sir?”

“You have summed it up beautifully, Avantika. A service is an action that provides the padocumers with an intangible benefit. The intangibility of service creates interesting challenges for pharma marketers. Because it is the padocumers who try to judge the relative merits of one service over another, Avantika.”

4.   The Increasing Role Of Digitalization

Without a doubt, digitalization is the enabler of the 21st Century.

It is now time for companies to unleash the full power of advanced technologies in their marketing strategies, tactics and operations.

Technology should be leveraged for the good of humanity, the suffering humanity, the patients.

Digitalization provides all the means for instant, real-time actions and reactions.

Patient-Doctor Experience Management (PDXM) becomes increasingly important to deliver a seamless experience across all padocumer touchpoints, whether digital or physical.

Digitalization or rather Phygitalization is the enabler for the fourth industrial revolution. Deep structural changes will take place within the course of the phygital transformation, with the Internet of Things (IoT) being an essential driver of change.

Take the example of the eyeglasses just introduced by Titan, a Tata company, just a week back, on 10th January 2022 – the Titan EyeX Smart-Frame with Fitness Tracker, Open Ear Speakers and Bluetooth. It can track your BP, your pulse rate, and the distance while you walk. The glasses are compatible with Android and iOS devices.

The SoLoMo Mindset i.e., an acronym for Social, Local and Mobile technology.

 People stay:

– Inside of the social media world

– Can be localized through the smartphone and other technologies

– And use the Smartphone that is “Always-On” as access to the Internet ecosystem

In the world of digitalization, with newly restructured relationships and changed forms of communication, the 4 P’s may no longer be appropriate for today’s business challenges.

Finally, H2H Management does not forget about the strategic importance of the classical Segmenting-Targeting-Positioning (STP) approach.

5.   H2H Brand Management

H2H Marketing follows a highly integrative and collaborative approach. Consequently, the brand cannot be viewed separately but rather integrated into the subsystem of H2H Marketing.

The old view: In the earlier B2B Brand Management publications, many authors defined it as “right brand approach.”

The new view: The newly proposed H2H Brand Management, combines three components:

a) Holistic brand management constitutes the starting point to which the authors have added

b)Brand-formative Design (BFD) and

c) Collaborative Branding (CB) is added.

Because Brand-formative Design is a new multi-dimensional communicative means, integrating and creating feelings, emotions, associations or wants with padocumers are an integrated part of Collaborative Branding.

Collaborative Branding helps pharmaco to mobilize the padocumers’ resources, engaging them in creative and innovation processes.

This is how Group Pharma developed its denture cleaning tablets ‘Secure’, The users had a human problem. They did not know how long to keep the dentures in water to get them cleaned. Group Pharma came up with a solution. The color of the water changed from blue to ocean green after the dentures were sufficiently cleaned. They got insights by listening to padocumers and created a distinct brand identity for Secure denture-cleaning tablets.

In addition, meaningful brand characteristics must be considered when the pharmaco defines its brand identity.

H2H Brand Management means relating your brand to the solution of a human problem (H2H problem) which is the best way to create a meaningful brand identity.

The overarching brand strategy goals are derived from this process.

A specific value proposition for the padocumer is the result.

The value proposition, as well as all operations on the brand touchpoints, should be permeated by the H2H Mindset.

The value proposition of the brand must influence the padocumer-perceived brand image positively. This image must be constantly re-evaluated, depending on the PDX at all the touchpoints Constantly evaluate as the brand usage increases.

It must prove to fulfil the brand needs that initiated the interaction between you and the padocumers.

H2H Brand Management also emphasizes on Customer-Based Brand Equity (CBBE). CBBE shows how a brand’s success can be directly attributed to padocumers’ attitudes towards that brand. The Sinek-Keller Model developed by PharmaState Academy shows that the endpoint of a brand should be that KOL’s become your brand advocates. 

To conclude, the patient-centric approach in pharma marketing is a natural outgrowth of H2H Marketing.

Take home points

If there is one industry which is closest to the concept of H2H Marketing, it is the pharmaceutical industry, reiterated Philip Kotler, during his webucational program of 30th May 2021, to celebrate his 90th birthday.

H2H, in simplest terms, is approaching marketing from a profoundly human, empathetic, authenticity-based common-sense approach.

Why is H2H important to know about?

Because to ignore it is to court failure of the greatest magnitude and to embrace it is to pave the path to a future where healthcare is truly patient-centric, and our industry reputation goes from bottom to near the top.

A truly wonderful chance to make KOL’s your brand advocates.

Written by:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Vivek-Hattangadi-Photo-comp..jpg
Vivek Hattangadi – Chief Mentor at
PharmaState & The Enablers

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