I would decentralise the global marketing mentality in big pharma. While there are many advantages to a centralised global marketing approach, most companies take this to the extreme, diminishing effectiveness in the local markets they are trying to serve. As a result, global marketing organisations should serve two roles and two roles only.
1) Establish and enforce global brand image and guidelines and 2) Facilitate the global communication of marketing best practices.
The vast difference in consumer needs and their response to key marketing mix elements, the diverse local regulatory environments and the local competitive mix make it near impossible to develop an impactful 'one-size-fits-all' global marketing approach.
What would I do differently? For starters, I would congratulate most global marketers for doing a good job in regards to the first point I mentioned around global brand image consistency. From there, I'd place a particularly high emphasis on the second point I made around the facilitation of global marketing best practices. Instead of pouring money into globally-controlled market research and the development of global marketing strategies and tactics, I would hire global marketers that above anything else have good communication skills. Their role would be to identify and communicate key local market research findings and the best practices that directly address those findings.
The resulting global repository of barriers and solutions would allow local markets to select marketing solutions that have been successfully deployed in other local markets against the very same barriers they are looking to overcome.
I've often heard of, and even subscribed to myself, the 80/20 global marketing model. In this model, 80 per cent of the local marketing mix is developed by the global marketing team. The local market, in response to local market differences, develops the remaining 20 per cent. Do we really think that the world is 80 per cent similar?
With that in mind, I'll leave you with this thought: the next time you embark on a global marketing initiative, consider focusing on the two global roles as your main priority. Second, think about flipping the global marketing 80/20 model, develop a larger percentage locally in your largest markets, then share globally the best-in-class local solutions that result.
Damon Caiazza is Head of Advertising, inVentiv Health Communications/Europe. For further details contact Damon on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.inventivhealth.com/solutions/ihce/done_as_one