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Kantar Health, a leading global, evidence-based decision support partner to the world's leading pharmaceutical, biotech, device and diagnostic companies, recently delivered the anticipated 2011 results of its annual Stakeholder Effectiveness survey, which revealed that over two-thirds respondents from leading companies in the pharmaceutical sector think that customer retention is a key performance measure.
These results show a dramatic shift since the initial survey in 2009, when 98% of respondents said traditional sales were the sole measure of success and few multi-stakeholder engagement programs were in place. In the 2011 survey, 40% of the 500-plus registrants from leading pharma companies said that while sales are still a way to measure reps, they should not be the only measure and that companies should look at the impact of other programs that often work better for time-pressured PCPs. Interestingly, those with responsibility for Latin America saw the largest shift in attitude, closely followed by those covering European territories.
A strong shift in those valuing longer-term relationship building is also seen in the main survey, which asked more than 1,500 PCPs in the major five European markets and the US to evaluate the strength of physician/representative relationships for the 16 top pharma companies using Kantar's proprietary TRI*M(tm) Index. Also, for the third consecutive year, Novartis was the strongest overall performer in terms of ongoing relationships with PCPs in four of the six countries surveyed.
"Sales still generate the money, but you are not going to make sales without influencing PCPs' prescribing habits, and today that involves many external and internal stakeholders," says Mark Sales, Head of Global Stakeholder Management at Kantar Health. "Although Novartis' portfolio is broad, it also focuses where it makes sure it is strong, creating targeted programs to engage all key stakeholders. They understand that to succeed they can't just send generic messages through traditional channels to PCPs. Their marketing programs are about engaging different stakeholder groups, including payers and patients, with messages aimed at their pain points."
In the UK and France, PCPs indicated that relationships were better with companies with a strong national presence -- GlaxoSmithKline and Astra Zeneca in the UK and Sanofi in France. This confirms the importance of being culturally appropriate when developing messages for different stakeholder segments. Feedback from UK payers, gathered for the first time this year, reiterated this need for meaningful communication with decision-makers at a local level.
After enjoying the top position with oncologists in all but Italy last year, Roche/Genentech ranked first in only Germany and France in 2011. Oncologists are a smaller group than PCPs and tend to specialize by tumor type, which determines which therapeutic agents they use and therefore which company reps call on them.
Digital Life, the global survey of digital behavior from Kantar Health's sister company TNS, which was also run as part of the survey, showed that while PCPs in general are frequent users of the internet, oncologists see online sources of information as more important than PCPs and therefore may need less personal contact to learn about products.
"It is interesting to see changes over the years in rankings based on how companies retain their customers locally, especially with many centering their operations on key account management programs," Mr. Sales says. "The fruits of their labor seem to be showing after three or four hard years."