It's All in the Timing: Developing Innovative Marketing Strategies for Success in Asian Markets

Pharma IQ

The Asian markets, and in particular the huge populations of India and China, present the next big opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry.

However, the region also brings with it its own unique challenges in terms of marketing. A wide geographic area, large social and economic disparities, and increasing levels of competitiveness all mean that new and innovative strategies will need to be thought of if companies are to truly tap into this vast market.

Big pharma firms across the world are increasingly realising this, and recruiting the top people they need to create and drive the strategies required.

Commenting on the hiring of its new vice president of communications, Jeffery  A Winton, Eli Lilly said it was looking for a professional to "enhance our communications with an increasingly global audience."

Invida Group, a leading biopharmaceutical company in the Asia Pacific region, recently took the step of hiring its first ever chief marketing officer, Sumeet Sud, who will focus on core entry strategies and commercialisation programmes.

The evidence seems to suggest that those who really want to capitalise on this market will have to move now to get their marketing strategies in place.

Pharma marketing in India

India is one of the fastest expanding pharma markets in the world, and, according to a report by IMS Health will contribute $5 billion (£3.1 billion) to $15 billion in annual pharmaceutical sales by 2013. The drivers behind this were said to be a growing middle class population, improvements in medical infrastructure and the creation of intellectual property laws.

SOHM, a generics producer with a significant presence in the Indian market, is focusing its latest efforts on country's five most populous states, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, which account for almost half of India's total population.

The company announced plans to put 60 sales force members in these five states, following the success of a similar strategy in Uttar Pradesh last year which had "huge success producing repeat orders, increasing the Company’s market share in India and generating record revenue".

Efforts are being targeted at areas where acceptance of SOHM's products has been highest.
Nitin Shah, vice president of marketing at SOHM, India, said: "India is a huge country with varied markets and multiple societies that require experienced leadership in marketing and sales strategies. These markets are huge opportunities for aggressive generic drug manufacturers like SOHM."

Pharma sales force in China

China is predicted to be the third largest pharmaceutical market in the world by 2011, making it a major target for pharma companies.

By 2013, the country is expected to contribute more than £40 billion in sales, according to IMS Health.

Murray Aitken, senior vice president, Healthcare Insight, IMS, said: "It’s clearer than ever that the China market is in a league of its own, while an expanding group of ‘fast followers’ are building momentum and providing additional growth opportunities."

Companies from across the world are now looking to get increased numbers of sales representatives on the ground in China.

Japanese firm Takeda recently signed an agreement with Pfizer to help promote its Actos product, for the treatment of Type2 diabetes, in the country. Pfizer is currently the largest multinational pharma company operating in China and the agreement will allow Takenda to a higher number of sales reps.

China was targeted as, according to the International Diabetes Federation, the country's population size and economic growth means it is likely to face a diabetes epidemic in the coming years.

Michel Halfon, Pfizer's president of emerging markets, said recently that 75 percent of pharmaceutical sales are expected to come from emerging countries in the coming years, Reuters reports.

The company plans to have 3,200 representatives on the ground by the end of next year, which is an increase of almost 9,000, Dow Jones Newswires reported.