Please login to the form below

Not currently logged in

Bespoke CEE strategies

Industry leaders in CEE warn of the perils of applying Western methods in the region

A tape measureDespite being part of the European Union's common market, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has its own unique set of challenges and opportunities related to economic development.

Pharmaceutical firms doing business in the region face many constraints, including a push for healthcare cost containment by regional governments. Yet, they are also positioned to benefit from a market that is expanding rapidly.

However, companies should be warned against just accepting growth from a Western perspective, advises Phil Owens, head of Gynaecology and Andrology, Region II, at Schering AG.

If companies in Western markets are turning 10 per cent sales growth, every-body's happy, but is that actually enough in CEE? Are we putting ourselves in a position where we're not just riding the growth
curve, but actually making the most of it and optimising our growth?

If companies are only taking the growth that the market provides and not strategically growing their portfolios, when the markets become saturated, as they have in the West, then where are they? he adds.

Slawomir Chomik, area director, Central Europe, at Solvay Pharmaceuticals, believes that it also is important to consider market demographics. People are getting older. They are more demanding and expect more in terms of quality and coverage.

He also thinks that the authorities, increasingly, will demand proof of action and cost-effectiveness specificity. They will try to temper, and even reduce, commercial activities. At the same time, doctors are less and less willing to accept visits from medical representatives unless they provide them with highly relevant information.

Salesforce of the future
In Chomik's view, the pharma industry will be forced to move away from its more commercial-oriented selling approach to providing evidence-based medicine supported by more clinical trials and cost-effectiveness analyses.

The new selling paradigm will rely on data that will be understood by the authorities and demanded by the doctors, he says. New approaches, rather than simply focusing on the number of reps in the salesforce, will rely on the relevance of their argumentation to drive sales.

We should not blind ourselves. It is not about introducing territory management systems, e-detailing or something like that. What will determine if a visit is effective is the relevance of the data - and this will have a tremendous impact on how we measure and assess the salesforce.

Critical success factors
Close and effective collaboration with the marketing team will become more important than ever for the CEE salesforces of tomorrow. Commercial effectiveness relies on the perfect collaboration between sales and marketing, says Yann Brun, country manager, Czech Republic, at Solvay Pharmaceuticals.

Often we talk about how important the right targeting is, but not how to optimise its implementation and application at an operational level, especially in CEE where the data is difficult to collect and has to be systematically challenged.

When you are able to make your teams work with the same relevant data and with the same business plan, you will achieve real effectiveness, he adds.

True commercial effectiveness requires common targeting between marketing and sales that supports the coordination of information and action based on common goals, he says, emphasising that success requires a lot of good will, communication and coordination.

Markus Ramming, regional manager CEE, at Astellas, believes that success also depends on the implementation of global branding campaigns that accommodate the unique and specific needs of individual CEE countries. Our customers' base may be completely different and may focus on different subjects from their Western counterparts, he states. Local research often shows the differences and is the key in order to tailor a campaign to CEE countries and make it successful.

He argues that the balance between global marketing and local implementation will determine growth in Eastern Europe.

Schering AG's Owens is in agreement. Most of the corporate level strategy is done in Westernised environments, such as the US and Europe, where they have an eye on saturated markets, reimbursed systems and highly competitive market scenarios. There is a completely different dynamic in CEE, with massive social change, political risk, growth, as well as cultural and religious differences, he adds.

Firms in CEE must map local conditions onto corporate strategies, identify overlaps and really focus their efforts there. He believes that strategic implementation is the real challenge and success relies on having the right people in each country, building trust and good communications, and being culturally sensitive.

The eyeforpharma 4th Annual Central and Eastern European Pharmaceutical Congress in Warsaw, on October 10-11, provides a detailed look at marketing, sales strategies and trends in the region (

2nd September 2008


Subscribe to our email news alerts


Add my company
Streaming Well

Streaming Well is a healthcare-focused, award-winning video production company which operates in the US and Europe. We create engaging visual...

Latest intelligence

Clinical Trials Investigator and Patient Engagement Planning: A Customer Story
New Playbook Alert: Virtual Patient Engagement
Millennials: the wellness generation
Looking at the results from a global healthcare research study focusing on the patients of the future...