Based in Europe, the client is one of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies. Having developed one of the world’s first and largest blockbuster medicines, the company is recognized worldwide for its market-leading innovations and history of success.
The client had even higher aspirations—to become known for marketing excellence in the pharmaceutical industry and beyond. The company had just launched four new products with potential to capture their respective markets, so the timing was perfect. With a firm commitment to transform their company, executives were willing to take a hard look at themselves and draw on best practices in other industries to achieve their goal.
The client’s international sales and marketing division turned to McKinsey, a longtime partner, to drive change. We assembled a team that combined expertise in the pharmaceutical industry, medicine, and marketing with knowledge of local languages and cultures around the world. Our global presence allowed us to coordinate services with the client on two levels: at corporate headquarters and in regional offices in several countries.
Four core principles guided us:
- High aspirations. The client wanted to become a market leader with most of its products. This meant improvements in market share and clear differentiation of its brands.
- Pragmatism. The client wanted to focus on practical, easy-to-implement actions that would increase sales right away.
- Skill building. To sustain change in the long term, the client wanted to develop internal capabilities with new marketing tools and a high-impact problem-solving approach.
- Mindset change. The client needed to think and act differently across the organization—from senior leaders to sales to product managers—to create the energy and motivation required for the transformation.
Through close collaboration between McKinsey and the client’s brand teams, the client adopted an approach to brand planning driven by customer insights. The client learned to acquire information about the physicians that prescribe its products, what factors influenced those decisions, and how physicians perceive the client’s brand. With this information, brand teams can deliver more compelling and effective messages to physicians and higher-impact activities to illustrate the benefits of the products.
To create a common approach to brand planning across all countries and all functions, we developed a training program that could be disseminated throughout the marketing organization worldwide. We trained and coached more than 800 individuals across 25 countries.
The result has been stronger product brands and increased sales. By looking at the market more analytically, the company can adapt as the market continues to evolve. The client’s market share has grown, and the perception of its brands has improved. More importantly, people across different functions, such as sales, marketing, market research, medical staff, and financial staff, now have a common language and common perspectives on the business and the brand. This shared understanding sets the stage for better collaboration and dialogue, which leads to better brand planning.