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Smart Thinking blog

Insights and expert advice on the key issues facing today’s pharma marketer

Launch leaders' blog: what should launch leaders be measuring?

Challenging a few norms in our industry so we don’t become fixated on the wrong type of metrics

This time I’d like to explore what launch leaders should (ideally) be measuring at different phases of their launch – pre-, peri- and post-launch.

I’d like to challenge a few norms in our industry as we can sometimes become fixated on the wrong type of metrics: what’s the peak year sales figure? What market and class share can we expect? What’s the likely uptake vs previous launches in our company or in the class?

When working with global or local launch leaders, I’ve come across two distinct ‘personas’:

1. The strategic and numerical experts run a tight project management ship, are immersed in the analysis, derive strategy from the numbers they see and will set a fully quantified set of KPIs adapted to different phases of the launch.

Are you one of these people? If so, you are in high demand! But don’t forget the qualitative, intuitive insights that can come from real-life observation, interactions and ‘gut feelings’, based on healthcare and patient-centricity.

2. The number-phobic launch leaders who delegate analytics, forecasting and measurement to finance, business analysis, competitor intelligence and sales force colleagues.

These launch leaders are much more comfortable immersed in the patient experience journey, insight generation, branding, team dynamics and thought leader interactions. Are you one of these people? If so, you’re in high demand too!

Ideally launch leaders should combine these two profiles but often launch leaders come from either a quantitative or a qualitative background, which informs their experience and confidence.

So, the questions that a launch leader needs to consider are: what matters at each key stage of my launch? What information will help me make better strategic and operational decisions as the launch progresses? Which KPIs do my senior management need to see?

Which KPIs are truly important from a patient, prescriber, payer, competitive and internal team perspective? Are we truly engaging and changing the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of target customers in order to improve patient outcomes?

In my experience, some of the most important KPIs for the pre-launch phase are:

  • Tracking to the critical launch path timeline – ie speed to market for regulatory, pricing/ access, supply and commercial operations, and mapped vs the competition
  • Probability of success for hitting clinical trial primary endpoints and showing an improvement or differentiating benefit from alternative treatments
  • Scientific thought leader engagement with the launch, active input to the clinical programme and strategy, active readiness with media and peer-to-peer activity, indicators of proactivity from thought leaders as ‘extended’ members of the launch team * Pricing, formulary and percentage open access to key territories or patient populations within a geography
  • Prescriber understanding of the mechanism of action, published clinical studies and degree of unmet need, along with motivation to act in the future
  • Engagement and support of the patient advocacy community and media
  • Internal launch team belief in the success of the launch, senior management support for the launch.

In the peri-launch phase, the focus is on implementation, communication and coordination on a daily and weekly basis. If you are in a global or regional team, my strong recommendation is to back off and let the local teams deliver the launch and engage with their local customers!

I know this is easier said than done. Some local launch teams create a ‘global request triage manager’ to process and respond to multiple requests for a variety of information across different functions.

But not all teams have the resources to do this. If your company has business analysts to manage your market research, performance analysis and reporting and launch KPIs, they are an invaluable part of your launch team, helping to identify the issues that need decisions or management attention.

In the post-launch phase, this is the time to identify learnings, ‘fast failures’, share best practices with the next countries about to launch and, of course, to recognise the heroic work of the members of the launch team. In
this post-launch phase, it’s worth tracking:

  • The highest performing launch tactics and how to measure their operational effectiveness
  • The competitive response – strategically and operationally to the launch
  • Who the early ‘hot spot’ prescribers and patients initiated in the first instance are
  • Any lesser performing tactics, channels, content, messages – ‘course correct’ fast
  • Payer, formulary and pricing/value discussions with how best to demonstrate the value of the new product
  • How the media – medical and general – is covering the launch, disease area, access, policy
  • Internal organisational learnings – processes that don’t quite work or don’t work fast enough, new capabilities needed for success
  • Who the highest performing members of the launch team are – across territories and functions and ensuring their great work is shared and recognised.

Stephanie Hall is MD of the award-winning brand planning healthcare consultancy Uptake Strategies

30th December 2020

From: Marketing

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