Pre-launch promotion crucial to brand strategy: Sanofi-Aventis marketing VP

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Getting your brand noticed early in its lifespan is a crucial component to pharmaceutical product position strategy, said Corinne Le Goff, vice president, marketing, at Sanofi-Aventis. 

“The most money we can make at the beginning, the better,” Le Goff said yesterday at the Center for Business Intelligence's 3rd Annual Pharmaceutical Market Research Summit in Philadelphia. Marketing strategy should begin in tandem with early-stage drug development, although investitures should be kept at a minimum until proof of concept is established, she said.

In the meantime, marketers should focus on defining the market in terms of target audience and competitors, with a shift from therapeutic function to brand image occurring between Phase II and III, said Le Goff.

Le Goff cited the growing importance of Managed Care Organizations and Pharmacy Benefits Management, and noted that government is now the largest payer for pharmaceuticals. She also questioned sales reps ability to impact individual physicians, given limited access. “Are we really teaching physicians in four minutes?” wondered Le Goff.

Average marketing research budgets were 2.5 million in 2007, down 22.7% from 2006, according to Le Goff. “If it won't cost you much to be wrong, you should not spend much on market research.” 

Regarding DTC television campaigns, marketers should “test at least three executions per winning concept,” said Le Goff. “You can have the best advertising campaign [creative], but it's still not necessarily good…you have to understand the market drivers. If we put everything in one bucket – we think patients will be market drivers solely – that may not be true,” said Le Goff.

Other key factors to remember during the launch process include a product's convenience level, the increasing importance of forecasts “five to 10 years out,” and the need to develop successful commercial partnerships, according to Le Goff.
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