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A Brand Has Needs Too! Brand Optimization Requires a Delicate Balance between Brand Access, Experience and Execution

by Richard Goosey | Aug 17, 2017

In some ways brands are like people – no two are alike and each has a specific set of needs that change over time.

A holistic brand optimization strategy recognizes that distinct brands require different emphases as they transition along their life cycle. At post launch, the focus tends to be on Brand Access. Immediate post-launch phase, adoption and uptake require reinforcement of brand image and messaging, credibility, confidence and congruence between intended and received messaging. These are some of the key drivers of brand growth, as Brand Experience is embedded in the product. As the product matures, companies should then revisit their Brand Execution mix. This includes deciding whether a sales force is still the most cost-effective use of resources in maintaining a product as new products with better efficacy and improved modes of action are released.

Clearly prescription pharma products, compared to fast moving consumer goods, tend to have shorter life cycles that cannot be extended due to advances in treatment options, innovation and loss of patent protection. This makes a holistic approach even more important for a brand team to realize the full potential of its product during the short window of adoption and usage. However, a true holistic approach requires focusing on more than just one pillar. This means understanding and optimizing the full potential of each pillar and stakeholder group, and balancing marketing activities to drive brand growth according to the opportunities identified across all three pillars – Brand Access, Brand Experience and Brand Execution.

For example, when the first oral treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) was released in the EU, there was a clear opportunity to double its market share by focusing on Brand Access, as the brand was reimbursed at a national level but excluded from hospital formularies. Further, for Brand Experience, a survey found that 47% of neurologists regarded the brand’s user-friendly application as its outstanding attribute, as well as its positive impact on myelin repair. Social media listening indicated patient excitement about the new treatment option, tempered by concerns around side effects and difficulty swallowing pills. These issues needed immediate attention, with a focus on ease-of-use and a positive cost-benefit ratio, if dynamic switching was to produce real brand growth.

Additionally, other negative factors, such as resistance from payers who felt new MS therapies were not arresting disease progression, also needed to be addressed. Based on more detailed payer research, key concerns were identified and appropriate course correction actions recommended. Finally, in terms of Brand Execution, it was apparent that the sales force wasn't doing a good job due to the brand's poor share of voice. Here Brand Execution also struggled on measures such as providing high-quality MS products and valuable patient-support programs.

In all, the lessons are clear, a holistic approach allows brand teams to focus their scarce resources on understanding feedback from key stakeholders and taking appropriate actions across all stakeholder groups to optimize brand equity in local markets at each pivotal juncture in the brand journey. Kantar Health, a global innovator in brand optimization strategy and brand positioning research, recently published a new Edge of Insight report that details how you can drive brand growth across the Brand Access, Experience and Execution pillars. The report indicates that brand teams must embrace a more holistic perspective that incorporates a deeper understanding of patient segments, therapeutic options and customer base to maximize brand growth at every stage of the brand journey. Please click here to check out the full Edge of Insight report!

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