For Purohit Navigation, 2018 was about structuring its services to stay at the forefront of advances in market research and behavioral modeling. While revenue decreased from $20 million in 2017 to $19 million in 2018, company president Anshal Purohit says the agency was less worried about profits and “more focused on saturating our strategy practice and integrating our market research capabilities into the firm in a significant way.”

There was also a bit of a shift on the client side. Purohit Navigation has long worked on large-brand drugs — among others, Gilead Sciences’ blockbuster hep. C treatments — but recently expanded deeper into the realms of early-stage molecules and rare diseases.

In 2018, that included work on products such as Sanofi’s sutimlimab, currently in trials to treat the rare blood condition cold agglutinin disease. The firm has supplied strategic mapping and pre-market research to best determine how patients and clinicians might find and use the drug, should it secure approval.

While Purohit Navigation continues to handle its share of traditional marketing assignments, the agency sees behavioral modeling as an area in which it can continue to differentiate itself. “We really dig into the market and the behavioral insights driving the market. We fuel branding and tactical development in a way that is different,” Purohit explains. “The solutions we come up with are fueled by different and enriched inputs.”

With more companies looking for insights of that nature, Purohit says there has to be a heightened focus on implementation and big-picture thinking. It’s not just about uptake of product, she says, but the market as a whole. It goes beyond direct users of the product to clinicians and other gatekeepers who will need to change healthcare protocols to enable some new drugs to be used effectively.

Purohit expects a continued shift toward behavioral modeling and AI, because healthcare advertising is no longer “just adding new compounds in existing markets,” she notes. More rare disease and emerging treatments means more specialization among marketing firms — and a rapid change in market solutions in the years ahead.

Despite a reduction in head count — from 60 full-timers at the end of 2017 to 50 at the end of 2018 — Purohit Navigation believes it is perfectly situated to accommodate clients of all stripes and sizes. Indeed, Purohit says the independently and minority-owned company — founded by her mother, CEO Ahnal Purohit, 34 years ago — is “hungry for business” in a way that leads to high-quality service.

Anshal Purohit adds that, because many compounds are being brought to market by startup biotech companies that are “operating thin and moving quickly,” such support is needed more than ever.

“Every single account matters to us,” she says. “We take it personally.”