A Short Market Study of Pharmaceutical Brands
By Tom Dougherty
The pharmaceutical market battles over rather common sense table stakes. No one will purchase a medicine or drug unless it is deemed as effective. Likewise, no one will pay for a medicine or drug, regardless of how cheap it is, unless they deem it effective.
The pharmaceutical market values brand names, but in true to form human nature, “familiarity breeds contempt,” and after newness wears thin, customers gravitate to generics. Motrin is a perfect example of a product that has lost business to generics and usurpers. Ibuprofen is now sought after rather than Motrin, Advil, and the like. Much like the automotive industry, which has destroyed its brand equity by selling car models rather than manufacturing brands, consumers would be able to tell you the brand value of VIAGRA, but would be hard pressed to tell you what Pfizer represents.
Every new pharmaceutical brand launch must start from scratch in building its equity because all of the brand name manufacturers live on the same real estate as all of their competitors. A new product from Bristol Myers Squibb enjoys no increased or unique equity in comparison to a potion from the labs of Pfizer. Certainly every brand name manufacturer lives and dies on efficacy (and insurance coverage).
Looking at the Pharmaceutical Market
But within that quadrant there is room for brand and self-reflective definition and differentiation. As in all great brand positions, it should be reflective of the precepts of the target audience it seeks to attract. Any brand that represents efficacy but has added the brand value of any number of attributes available will have more successful and less costly brand launches. When such a branded manufacturer creates a new pharmaceutical product, it carries the weight of the parent equity and has established meaning. This brand truth is as important and real in ethical products as well as over-the-counter products.