What kind of competition exists in these markets today?
What future competition will there be?
How do people behave and what is the best way to talk to them?
These all seem like fairly benign market entry questions; however, the paths of entry into emerging markets are strewn with the futile investments and broken branded bodies of initiatives who failed to fully heed the answers to these questions.
Knowing the questions is only half the battle. Getting the right answers is the other half of the fight.
Everyone knows the classic mistakes, like when Chevrolet launched a car in Mexico that meant Doesn’t Go (Nova) or when P&G launched soap in Japan that showed creamy bubbles in a tub (Camay) when Japanese bathers don’t put soap in their tubs.
You have to think that Chevrolet and P&G had on-the-ground partners who did the research and developed the campaigns that would help them enter in the market. But, nonetheless, they missed the linguistic and cultural train of successful entry.
For pharmaceutical companies looking to leave the slowly growing old world and enter the faster growing new markets, a different but still rigorous analysis is needed.
Here the questions involve matching the therapeutic areas of interest against a comprehensive profile of the market. It means understanding, in a given country,
• Disease burden
• Treatment algorithms and patient flow
• Prescription trends and availability of medicines
After starting to build a landscape of the market, a company needs to develop an understanding of the dynamism of the country. How is the country itself growing? Will the government invest in healthcare? Are the Ministries open to approval? Is reimbursement private or public and to what extent?
In order to get the background to these questions, it is important to interview government agents, regulators, payors, physicians, hospital and pharmacy directors, and trade bodies.
Then you can start to match the market against the company’s product portfolio and begin to make discreet choices.
It may sound elementary but it is anything but, dear Dr. Watson. Sherlock Holmes once said, “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” The goal here is to get to the truth of what will be the best course of action for a company, however improbable it may seem.