Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Doctor Segmentation: Reaching out through a different lens

Indian Pharmaceutical market is genericized. The doctors are progressively cluttered with multiple brands belonging to the same molecule class. Managing brands in this scenario has become increasingly difficult for pharmaceutical brand managers, since doctor engagement and brand loyalty amidst dense competition is tough. Each level in the multilayer stakeholder network of the pharmaceutical companies in India is armed with their individual strategies to combat this competitive scenario. Most practiced strategy is customer segmentation basis doctor specialty and their prescription behavior.

While in the quest to win over competition, this strategy of customer segmentation has met success, it’s time to ponder! Each customer is different with different needs and interests. Their expectation from pharmaceutical branding also differs according to their interests. Hence branding with customized engagement route becomes imperative forming customer communities is a popularly employed tool to engage customers effectively. Communities could be formed basis customer’s attitude, psychographs, needs in relation to the brand/category. This would eventually help pharma bigwigs to formulate focussed marketing strategies, fixate on the inputs to engage the doctors effectively, extricate relevant consumer insight to assure endurance.



  • Knowledge seekers are generally interested in company supported educational programs.
  • They are seldom interested in representative talks or samples.

Inflection Points

  • Liaise with the community by inviting the knowledge seekers to educational programs.
  • Appeal doctor’s interest by directing them to gauge practices adopted globally.

Community Characteristics

  • The community believes in engaging with the on-ground team with the objective of gaining and imparting information.
  • They typically value medication samples, pharmaceutical representative’s interactions and education.

Inflection Points

  • We can influence the community with a multi-faceted sales and marketing message.
  • They can be provided with samples readily available, invite doctors to speaker events.
  • They would welcome in-clinic reminder items pertinent to the demographics of their practice.


Community Characteristics

  • Independents typically don’t value rep interactions.
  • They try to rely on independent evidence based medicine material. 

Inflection Points

  • Relationship could be built by facilitating speaker programs, peer-reviewed journals or educational camps for their patients.
  • Attempt could be made to make doctors aware of all new clinical trials and details, to become a resource representative and not a sales representative.


Community Characteristics

  • They are cost conscious and receptive to patient preference.
  • Patient education interests them more.
  • They are slow to adopt new medications.

Inflection Points

  • Product differentiation with respect to cost, ease of administration, formulary availability, patient education materials, efficacy and safety needs to be established.
  • On-ground team may expound on the advantages of using brand in concern over the competition.


The current approaches of customer segmentation for branding have been helping the pharma companies to generate business. However, in order to stand out in doctor’s chamber, forming doctor communities to understand value graphics could be an alternative approach. Understanding the customer value graphics gives an advantage to pose as knowledge representative, as against sales representative. Such an understanding can help the pharma bigwigs to be armed with relevant information tools that each customer type is keen to seek. This makes each interaction more engaging and would eventually help to earn brand currency with the doctors.


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