Authored by: Adam Boucher, Head of Innovation and Product Development
Executing a successful pharma product launch not only hinges on clearly articulating the customer value proposition and points of differentiation to healthcare professionals, but also the close, continuous monitoring of alignment to brand strategy.
Building foundations for this in advance by ensuring strategic alignment from leadership to commercial teams pre-launch is crucial. Otherwise, there is an increased risk of strategic drift which can be hugely detrimental during this critical launch period.
Adam Boucher, Head of Innovation and Product Development at STEM Healthcare (an Inizio Advisory company) explores ways to prevent strategic drift, optimize launch readiness, and the importance of benchmarking.
Numerous barriers and complexities exist which make it more difficult to launch new brands successfully. This is even more pronounced when there is a shift in pipeline focus to more personalized therapies, or treatments for rare diseases which are typically harder to identify and diagnose. More nuanced requirements to demonstrate value to payers and healthcare professionals can also further compound these challenges.
Companies must also navigate the decline in access to physicians, intensifying competition, and the need to launch and ensure access in multiple diverse markets.
There has always been a need for pharma and biotech companies to optimize their launch planning and execution process to ensure success in the face of such challenges, but how they do this is often what impacts performance.
Strategic drift can be defined as a dilution or blurring of the brand strategy and can occur both vertically between leadership, first line managers, and then field teams, or horizontally across functions, i.e., sales, medical, and market access.
Minimizing and mitigating this strategic drift is an absolutely essential component to the success of any brand and is particularly important during the critical launch window.
Despite a well-crafted leadership vision, at both a macro and micro level, strategic drift can often occur as information cascades through an organization.
A simple example occurs at the macro level. Global leadership launches a campaign, which a team rolls out and communicates to affiliates. Unfortunately, this is where the first dilution occurs. The affiliates then translate information for their local market and make some changes in messaging – potentially deviating from the target patient. At the micro level, the company sees further drift from country leadership to field managers and country field teams.
Understanding of, and alignment to the various elements within the brand strategy or campaign then begins to erode to a level where field teams are collectively not positioning the product according to leadership guidance and direction.
To prevent this drift, organizations require an objective pre-launch view of cross-functional alignment from global leadership to local field teams and across every layer in between.
This approach is also beneficial globally when a gradual rollout to the US and then individual European countries occurs – leveraging the learnings from early measurements to accelerate the launch curve in subsequent markets.
Companies in the launch phase often want their sales teams to be singularly focused on delivering the new campaign, believing this is necessary to be as successful as possible – and any benchmarking efforts are often perceived as a
distraction. However, pre-, peri-, and post-launch alignment and insights at these early stages, when they still have time to course correct, should outweigh any perceived burden.
Where team execution is below industry benchmark, there is commonly a root cause that is often intertwined with issues around strategic alignment – the two are inherently linked.
Before the global team decides on the launch strategy and critical success factors, they need to build in-depth market insights and ideally work with a partner that can share lessons learned from launches in similar areas.
The three Ms must align from when a first concept is developed to strategic launch and reviewing performance; capturing their insights early and effectively, ensuring collective buy-in, and then bringing them through cohesively into the launch execution is essential.
Pharma companies acknowledge that measuring team alignment against industry benchmarks for launch execution and preventing strategic drift is critical. However, the how, when, and value of doing so early and continuously is yet to be fully realized.
Pharma must objectively measure that the three Ms are aligned with leadership and their data is being leveraged up to, and during launch appropriately, and continuously in the immediate months post-launch.
The need for quality interactions built from pre-launch insight that translates from the boardroom to field-based teams is now critical for launch success.
Contact us to learn how STEM can support your product launch.
STEM, an Inizio Advisory company, helps clients quantify strategic alignment, execution, and impact.