Friday, 9 November 2012

Getting strategy execution right

Pharmaceutical teams often have access to a wealth of information and insights to design their strategies. However, only a few of them may be relevant and the execution of the strategy may rely on a few key people. 

Hence, it is critical for brand teams to carefully examine their strategy and define very precisely how they are going to go about making sure it is executed to perfection.

Here is a short video from Michael Jarrett, INSEAD professor, introducing a few important points to consider in order to get strategy execution right.

The author: Axel Rousseau is brand scientist (SRE) at Branding-Science and has been working on international market research and consultancy since 2008.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Aligning Strategy and Sales

Advertising, conferences, Key Opinion Leaders, medical representatives, digital...Brand managers in the pharmaceutical industry have a wealth of opportunities to encourage conversations about their treatment. But if these conversations are not aligned with the brand strategy, the results can be disappointing.

With new digital communication channels, the importance of sales reps is frequently discussed but they are still a key element of the brand strategy - and they will remain, for the years to come, a critical source of information for physicians and the evidence of the involvement and interest a company pays into the scientific community. However, to provide value to both healthcare professionals and the brand they represent, their efforts must be aligned with the brand strategy.

Frank Cespedes, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, explains how to connect what your people sell with your business goals.

The author: Axel Rousseau is brand scientist (SRE) at Branding-Science and has been working on international market research and consultancy since 2008.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Technology wonders

The article Coming Next: Using an App as Prescribed recently published on the New York Times discusses recent innovations in smartphone applications dedicated to healthcare.

In particular, it gives examples of applications designed to collect patient data, take those through a specific algorithm and send treatment recommendations to healthcare professionals in charge of managing the patient.

Although the level of precision of recommendations may vary, such a process would clearly represent a major concern for pharmaceutical companies, who would need to ensure their treatments are included - and fairly presented - amongst the available alternatives that will shape the recommendation.

Physicians will also consider these applications and their recommendations with extreme caution, particularly in the early days, but could the current trend for cost-saving accelerate their adoption?

If you are a brand manager in the pharmaceutical industry, you certainly want to keep an eye on these apps and even more on the guidelines the FDA will publish later this year, as it could mean opportunities  not to be missed.

The author: Axel Rousseau is brand scientist (SRE) at Branding-Science and has been working on international market research and consultancy since 2008.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Changing Roles of Pharmacists in the Philippines

Pharmacists are not medical doctors and yet, their role is becoming increasingly significant in managing patients in the Philippines.

The evolution of market access regulations in the Philippines

The Philippines market is a non-reimbursement or paying market, where patients need to finance themselves their healthcare costs. However, modern healthcare costs such as consultation fee and medications have become increasingly burdensome to patients.
As a response, the government devised initiatives to help patients cope, including the Generics Act (by which physicians should write the generic name of the drugs in their prescription, thereby facilitating substitution to the benefit of more affordable alternatives) and the Maximum Drug Retail Price (regulating prices).

 Patient and consumer dynamics

Beyond facilitating access to medications, these regulatory moves have transformed traditional pathways. Patients now commonly seek advice from pharmacists, who may appear more informed about the various treatments available and their respective prices. In some cases, patients may even be skipping the consultation with their doctors for immediate advice or relief of their condition.
As such, the pharmacists role is shifting towards greater responsibility in treatment evaluation and choice.

  How best to engage with pharmacists?

Pharmacists now play a key role in the treatment pathway that ranges on a variety of patient responsibilities:
  • From Education to counselling to ensure compliance and safety 
  • Brand promotion can also fall into their activity, as they will be in a position to assess and recommend another brand or generic counterpart - while pushing some products under specific promotion agreements is already common practice.
These new responsibilities offer great opportunities to pharmaceutical companies who will find multiple opportunities to engage with pharmacists through mutually beneficial activities:
  • Training that enhances  their knowledge and the service they can provide
  • Pharmacy-specific support and promotion programs
  • Product information and updates that will benefit patients
  • Insight generation programmes

The author:  Odette Navarro is Managing Director of Branding Science in the Philippines. She has over 15 years of experience in pharmaceutical market research in Asia and contributed to building major brands throughout their lifecycle. On September the 26th 2012, she will be sharing insights from her research experience with pharmacists in the Philippines during a poster session at the EphMRA in Beijing

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Fancy reading our annual report?

Market research, like financial reports sometimes face the same challenge. They need to get important information across about a specific market, various stakeholders or the way a company is going, so that the audience (or readers) can digest the information and make the most of it.

Listing a series of facts and figures can very quickly become exhausting for the audience, yet market research and financial communications need to fairly describe the reality - and if you are at the receiving end, you certainly want the most comprehensive picture that you can get!

This is why, at Branding Science, we strive to deliver our presentations using different media and engaging methods. Now, I have to apologise here for the misleading title of this blog as it isn't our annual report I would like to share with you, but rather, United Therapeutics' 2010 annual report (PDF).

As a great example of delivering information through an engaging story, they published this report as a comic book. Could your next detail aid be done in the same way?

The author: Axel Rousseau is brand scientist (SRE) at Branding-Science and has been working on international market research and consultancy since 2008.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Olympics are here!

The team in the London office is delighted to see the start of the Olympics.

The excitement was real when the torch passed our office, travelling along the Thames to the opening ceremony. And if you missed this historic moment, here it is, in a movie made by our sister company Living Brand Productions.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Gallop: A groundbreaking short film for MS

The Multiple Sclerosis Trust have shared their blog with Cathy John, a member of the online community
Cathy introduces a new film she has been involved with to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis.

I found this film to be a great example of how films can be a great media to inform and motivate. They can create a long-lasting impact, by bringing a story to life and getting the message more strongly remembered.

By using metaphors and avoiding medical terms, the film engages the audience with the story. The relationship between the two characters, narrated along the diagnosis of MS gets viewers to identify with them. Most importantly, it sends a very powerful message - one of hope and encouragement.

The author: Axel Rousseau is brand scientist (SRE) at Branding-Science and has been working on international market research and consultancy since 2008.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

EphMRA – one big social, or was social the big one for EphMRA?

EphMRA this year – a theme of the 360 degree future, with a strong and consistent message of improved customer engagement with ‘social media’ (apparently a now redundant term but that’s a topic for future discussion), as a means of both ensuring participation with and a route to sourcing research and insights. 

Speed, breadth, depth, FUN (who’d have thought participation in some quantitative form-filling research could be fun?).  It’s all there if we can harness the approach, ensure validity, manage compliance with ADEs and codes of conduct and are confident we can gain the insight we are seeking.

Is “traditional”, standard research dead? Absolutely not – but then none of us should be doing ‘standard research’.  We still need to be asking the right questions, to the right people in the right way – delivering insights that inform and impact upon real business decisions.  So it’s evolution not revolution.  We all have work to do to truly understand the ‘under the skin’ emotive drivers and motivations to behaviour – both patient and healthcare professional – but we shouldn’t ignore the opportunities presented by online developments that we can tap into. 

To know more on how Branding Science can help you join the dots (or docs in the pharma world) and both engage and gain insights through a more social and engaging approach to research, give us a call.   Whilst our Customer Councils TM, CompComs and similar co-creation tools have been doing this for years we can provide the means to harness an online approach to tackling those issues that would gain from a new approach.

The author: Simon Noble-Clarke is Managing Director at Branding Science. He previously held various positions in sales and market intelligence with some of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Living with type 1 diabetes

Last week, the Open University posted two powerful testimonies from type 1 diabetes patients. 

From diagnosis in childhood to their current young adult lives, they discuss the challenges of living with this condition and getting it understood by others.
For people from the industry, these videos give true insights on how devices and adherence programs, such as smartphone apps, can truly engage patients with the management of their condition and make their lives a little easier.

The author: Axel Rousseau is brand scientist (SRE) at Branding-Science and has been working on international market research and consultancy since 2008.

Friday, 15 June 2012

The value of teamwork

A few weeks ago, one of the workshops we facilitated was introduced to the team with the following video:

The point was to emphasise the value of teamwork:
  • Each of these 5 people perfectly play their role in delivering the song
  • The coordination of the band doesn't tell how much rehearsal and training has been invested in this video - but we guess it's been hard work!
  • They only have one guitar - Even with relatively little means, what a fantastic achievement for these guys!?
Although it is a bit of a long video and everyone got the point in the first minute, I found this example extremely inspiring. To me, it shows that with creativity and the right energy, you can achieve extraordinary results. And what is more relevant when your key challenge is to do more with less?

The author: Axel Rousseau is brand scientist (SRE) at Branding-Science and has been working on international market research and consultancy since 2008.

Monday, 11 June 2012

So what does the Rapid Physician Decision task look like?

A short demo.....
So how does RPD differ from traditional qualitative research techniques and just what does it add? Here’s an example of how it can be used in treatment decision making research based on patient profiles -
-          Physician is presented with a self-guided computer based task
-          The test begins; the physician is presented with a set of patient profiles to read
-          After each, the physician is then asked to pick his 1st/2nd/3rd line of treatment, with a number of treatment options given (to mine real gut instinct and avoid ‘driving blind’ through the test, questions can be time limited and options randomised)
-          Once complete, the moderator has a full set of responses available with which to challenge respondents

And what does it all mean?
This example merely scratches the surface of what RPD can offer. We believe this is real ‘next generation’ market research. For our work in antifungals, it produced thought-provoking results; physicians often contradicted their decision-making in open conversation, providing insight into how decisions are often unconsciously guided by herd behaviour but sometimes difficult to verbalise within discussion.
In our experience, the RPD has enabled us, and our clients, to see beyond the obvious, offering critical ‘actionable commercial insights’.

The author: Ben Jones is Senior Research Executive at Branding Science. He has a special interest in digital and how research can harness new technologies to generate deeper insights.

Friday, 25 May 2012

The BHBIA conference – beyond expectations!!

As a first time delegate, I did not know what to expect from the BHBIA conference.  It’s fair to say, my expected highlights were the awards dinner and guest speech by Mark Foster, one of the UK’s most decorated sportspeople. 

From my tower of cynical ignorance, I had two main preconceptions about the conference as;
1.   A backslapping exercise for the main sponsoring agencies/client companies
2.   A platform for agencies/service providers to hawk their wares, with harassed clients fleeing successive sales pitches as they make their way from coffee pot to  paper-presentation

My opinion, however, rapidly and considerably changed for three key reasons…


As I listened to the first paper-presentation, I was struck by the atmosphere of togetherness and partnership.  The transparent discussion of innovative methodologies and success stories was inspiring.  Imparting this “winning feeling” to us all and initiating new directions of thinking was not just refreshing…it was incredibly motivating. 


It was very easy to see the pride delegates have in the Pharma industry. Highlighted at every point was how business intelligence adds value to all aspects of a brand’s life cycle.  There is real scope for change, real opportunity for innovation and real need for the business intelligence community to make the difference.  I doubt any delegate left without a feeling of purpose and energy.


Opportunity to talk with client and agency colleagues with the sole agenda of promoting better business intelligence was very powerful.  Existing pre-conceptions and relationships were set aside, as delegates openly discussed issues and brainstormed solutions.  This added to the positive feeling of the conference and likewise to my belief in what I/we can achieve to improve healthcare in the UK.

As for looking ahead? I will certainly attend the 2013 BHBIA conference, and hope this summary encourages thinking into what a creative forum like this could mean to your company and team’s approach to business intelligence.

Oh, I almost forgot, the awards dinner and Mark Foster speech were also sensational!

The author: Joe Gadilhe is Senior Research Executive at Branding Science. With experience across therapy areas, he has managed research projects exploring the views and opinions of payers and physicians in the UK and abroad.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Rapid Physician Decision Making Task

”Instinct is intelligence incapable of self-consciousness.”
John Sterling, author

Mining gut instinct in pharmaceutical market research.......
In the world of healthcare, millions of life-changing decisions are made by physicians daily - which treatment pathway to follow, which drug to choose, when to switch and what to switch to? Guidelines may inform these choices but physicians, like all of us, are creatures of habit and make many of their decisions from a gut instinct, formed and reinforced by experience. As market researchers the real value of our work is in finding out the triggers for these ‘gut’ decisions – but how can we be sure we are getting their genuine decisions, and not what they feel is expected of them

This problem lay at the centre of a recent piece of research carried out by Branding Science in antifungal therapy. Here a variety of drug choices are available but decisions tend to be uniform and quickly made. We needed to determine the genuine ‘instinctive’ decision (or dare we say, prescribing habits) of physicians- but felt that traditional qualitative methods wouldn’t allow physicians the ‘time and distance’ to elicit this gut response. To do this we needed to get as near as possible to the real life prescribing environment- to get out of the interview room and into the operating room.

The Rapid Physician Decision (RPD) task.......
To combine the benefits of qualitative research with the statistical edge of quantitative research, we looked to the annals of cognitive psychology for inspiration- and the Rapid Physician Decision (RPD) task was born

This is essentially a computer-based task measuring instantaneous physician responses to a series of rapid fire questions- which are then promptly incorporated into qualitative research interviews. This allows us to contrast ‘gut’ vs. considered responses, and probe where inconsistencies arise- really getting ‘under the skin’ of the decision

RPD allows us to quantify gut instinct in situations where it really matters, like treatment decisions, message testing and logo/concept refinement. RPD is flexible enough to cater for all; whilst even technophobes can produce a basic ‘preference test’ within an hour, more confident technophiles can introduce ranking and routing elements and even measure speed of response to see just how ‘hard wired’ decision choices are. 

Please follow this blog, as in my next post, I will be showing you how it works !

The author: Ben Jones is Senior Research Executive at Branding Science. He has a special interest in digital and how research can harness new technologies to generate deeper insights.