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A market-adapted agile approach to launch excellence

By Suzie Denton

Suzie Denton

What are the launch challenges that you are wrestling with in 2020? The increasingly austere pharma environment necessitates a new mindset, innovative commercial strategies and methods of working ‘to do more with less’. In this article we explore how an agile approach adapted to market dynamics is essential to achieving launch excellence. Consulting at McCann Health (CMH) has identified six key market dynamics impacting launch excellence.

1. Changing stakeholder perspectives of true value

Shifting stakeholder perspectives of true value necessitates a compelling, sophisticated value proposition bespoke to stakeholder role. A strategy grounded in deep stakeholder insights to maximise early opportunities, demonstrate brand value and connect emotionally will facilitate launch excellence.

Recommendation: create a 360-degree cross-functional patient journey identifying areas of connection and disconnection based
on in-depth insight allowing identification of desired behaviour changes. Taking a customer- centric creative approach, going beyond the medicine and understanding the holistic customer experience is vital to engage with relevance.

2. Less white space product differentiation

In crowded disease areas where compounds may show only incremental benefit, payers often make cross-product comparisons, differentiating and restricting treatment access. It is therefore critical to understand both competitors and stakeholders deeply.

Detailed competitor insights enable launch team alignment around opportunities for differentiation and risk identification; in particular, assessing anticipated access hurdles in the context of competitive insight is essential. Deep competitive insights help inform required market preparation for launch readiness, enabling optimum launch trajectory.

Recommendation: dynamic war gaming and scenario planning or ‘walking in competitors’ shoes’ allows agile launch plan creation, anticipating and responding to competitive dynamics. Agile planning should include the design of metrics that go beyond sales and include indicators of desired behaviour change.

3. Increased focus on niche disease areas

Differentiation challenges and demonstrating value have propelled pharma exploration into niche disease areas with clear unmet need but often smaller populations. Niche areas have seen a rise in novel approaches, gene and cell therapies, and digital therapies, creating new challenges like stakeholder educational gaps, supply chain barriers
and differing lead launch markets.

Recommendation: think differently by identifying market launch archetypes for launch readiness, prioritising launch activities stringently and developing tailored commercialisation strategies. Early stakeholder and market insights help to identify key drivers of success, including disease awareness, market shaping, patient identification and novel pricing approaches.

4. Increased pharma company mergers and acquisitions

Mergers and acquisitions are increasingly used to bolster innovation, generate cost synergies or re-align portfolios. For launch asset acquisitions this may result in challenging planning timelines requiring rapid resourcing and team on-boarding.

Assets may be acquired with ambitious launch aspirations and investor expectations. Creating and aligning a new team around launch expectations, vision and positioning, and integrating into organisational culture, potentially in new therapy areas, can present additional challenges.

Recommendation: do your own due diligence to develop a cohesive strategy grounded in strong insight and build shared ownership while generating the passion, excitement and energy required to deliver on launch ambitions. Relentless focus on asset integration into the launch framework, launch mindset and risk management are critical.

5. Digital and technological integration

Technological advances are changing the pharma landscape in terms of how brands are experienced, stakeholders are interacted with, information is accessed and data is sourced.

Recommendation: more opportunities exist to be market oriented and customer- centric, delivering value through innovative solutions, solving real problems, building advocacy through meaningful experiences and using multichannel marketing for impactful engagement. Technology enables creative metrics informing agile adaptations and course correction to strategy and
tactics for bolder decision-making.

6. Elevated role of regional decision-making

Pharma companies recognise that navigating local processes can delay access and impact launch trajectory. Furthermore, increases
in region or market-specific licensing deals for launch products have led companies to devolve to region-specific cross-functional teams for tailored launch preparation, allowing different thinking to achieve speed, experimentation and innovation.

Recommendation: regular strategy alignment meetings between global and regional launch leadership teams are essential to maintain the global brand story and identity. There should be active facilitation of cross-market collaboration, especially from first-to-launch markets to share best practice learnings and avoid repetition of mistakes.

If you are wrestling with any of the above launch challenges, our expert team at CMH provides guidance on navigating the six key market dynamics impacting launch excellence, bringing an external perspective, breadth of launch expertise and an innovative approach tailored to your specific launch needs. To learn more, get in touch with

Suzie Denton is Managing Director, Consulting at McCann Health

In association with

McCann Health

12th February 2020

From: Marketing



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