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Top 5 tips for a multi-indication product launch

Senior Associate Consultant Sana Rahim and Senior Consultant Victoria Clark explain the lessons the team has learned from launching six different indications of an oncology product in an accelerated timeframe.

Photo by Anukrati Omar via Unsplash.com

The term ‘launch excellence’ conjures up images of a traditional brand launch in which a new drug is introduced to the market. This involves planning activities like a situation analysis to understand the treatment landscape, market-shaping, awareness campaigns, development of a brand launch strategy, brand messaging, and customer-facing tactics.

However, for many brands, the launch process does not stop there. Today, it is more common to remain in ‘launch mode’ after the first entry into the market. In our experience this is usually due to the launch of new indications, either in the same therapy area or in a new one. The former is common in oncology where drugs initially launch in later lines with the highest unmet need and then continue to launch in earlier lines to reach more patients. As a result, the brand strategy can become fragmented and confused. Additional key messages are developed, and this leads to conflicting strategies and value offerings that confuse the customer. Meanwhile, brand teams can feel torn between continuing to establish the brand and focussing on new launches – this can lead to fatigue and demotivation.

At Blue Latitude, we work with an oncology brand that was launched five years ago but has since experienced six launches, with more to follow in coming years. This means the EMEA and local teams have been in launch mode since the brand first launched. Below are some learnings from our five years working with the team.

Our top 5 learnings

Looking backwards and forwards:

In traditional launch excellence, the key is to be forward-facing. This means concentrating on the expected market situation at the time of launch and using techniques such as scenario planning or predictive analysis to understand what the future will look like. However, when planning a subsequent launch after the initial entry into the market, looking back is also essential.

Build momentum:

While it is important to continually learn and stay focussed on the upcoming treatment landscape, it is also vital to view your brand as an overarching identity. It can be tempting to treat each indication or combination launch as an entirely new brand launch. The rationale here makes sense – maximising your resources on a new launch will create

a high level of buzz internally that gets teams excited and motivated, while also suggesting to customers that this new launch is enough of a game-changer to deserve a creative voice of its own. However, this can also lead to ‘launch-fatigue’, for both your internal teams and your customers.

Internally, thinking can become entrenched and excitement for each launch is difficult to maintain. Externally, customers can tire of hearing conflicting messages and propositions. This is especially true when multiple launches occur consecutively within a short timeframe

The solution here is simple – don’t treat each launch as a new brand launch. Instead, leverage your experience to achieve a rolling momentum, so the teams are stronger and more informed as each indication comes to market. Rather than another big launch, each launch should be treated as an increment with fewer resource needs, while still building towards the bigger brand vision.

Empowering global and local teams:

Operating at an EMEA level, it is quite common to work with global teams to understand the vision for the brand and subsequent launches. Difficulties can arise when the US market represents the highest global sales and heavily influences the brand and creative strategy. The resulting work may not cater to regional nuances and might not be adaptable across regions.

Ideally, the team should influence the global strategy to shape the resources produced so they are more relevant for local markets. However, it is also important to consider how best to leverage global resources. You may adapt the strategic and creative resources to make them fit for purpose, or you might start from scratch to ensure the strategy and external communication is relevant to your market scenario.

At an EMEA level, the launch strategy can only be realised through execution in local markets. It is essential to leverage the knowledge and expertise in local markets so you can understand the similarities and nuances in the treatment landscape, before beginning strategic or tactical planning. In the end, striking the right balance between affiliate co-creation while keeping the focus on upcoming EMEA level business challenges is vital.

Commercially focussed and intentional data generation:

As markets become more competitive, a shift towards strong collaboration between commercial and medical teams has never been more important. By ensuring the data generation is in line with brand and audience needs, you can optimise your commercial efforts and the bottom line.

In multi-launch brands, leveraging insights from customers and payers is invaluable for pinpointing the most valuable features of the product and understanding which data is required to shift perceptions. This includes looking at how they perceive the brand and gaps in the data, as well as your company’s strategic vision for the brand. These insights should be fed into the trial design to prevent gaps in the data from becoming missed commercial opportunities.

Striking the right balance when collaborating:

As much as collaboration and working together is important, the risk is that decisions cannot be made unless everyone  is on board.

Most teams to work across borders with a majority of meetings taking place over the phone. As difficult as it is have a strategic discussion in person, this becomes more challenging when conversations happen across Skype or Webex. To ensure decisions are strong, different points of view should be encouraged and people empowered to

However, it is essential to ensure that while ideas are challenged, workstreams are not kept on hold while trying to ensure unanimous agreement about next steps. Team members with the right expertise and responsibility for projects must be empowered to act, rather than spend time seeking approval. This ensures timelines are met and your organisation follows an agile mindset – something that should not be compromised on.

A winning internal exit strategy:

It’s clear that many internal and external factors must be considered when launching new indications. However, these five recommendations will help to ensure the foundations are in place for a successful indication launch – one that does not over-stretch the brand team and delivers return on investment.

Are you planning to launch a new product or indication? Contact simon.young@bluelatitude.com to find out how we can help you

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20th July 2020

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Blue Latitude Health

+44 203 328 1840

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