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Pharma advertising suffers skill, Rs 2000-cr OTC market largely untapped

06-April-2004
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Pharma advertising suffers skill, Rs 2000-cr OTC market largely untapped

The Rs 20,000-crore Indian pharmaceutical industry offers an opportunity of over Rs 2000 crore to the advertising industry for its Over The Counter (OTC) products. However, till date hardly one per cent of this has been tapped. Experts from the advertising agency blame on lack of specialisation about the pharmaceutical formulations and specialised healthcare agencies to take on the challenge of the pharma giant. “The patents implementation in 2005 is also one of the major inhibiting factor”, points out an industry expert.

Ashish Bhasin, Director, IMAG, Lintas India, feels the specialised sector advertising is still in its nascent stage in the country and pharma is one sector, which reflects this. Lintas, however, has an exclusive wing for healthcare advertising. “Unlike the FMCG sector where creativity fetches business, pharma requires a thorough understanding of the product. Besides ads designed need to have a strong factual base. It’s just recently that players have started realising the potential of this sector, observes Bhasin.

Mumbai-based sole healthcare advertising agency, Oxygen Healthcare Communications, headed by Ashok Jain mops up an annual business of over Rs 30 crore and has clients like Dr Reddy’s, NPIL, and Pfizer etc. in its kitty. Jain points out that as far as pharma is concerned there is a need for communicators who understand health and communications in equal measure. “FMCGs are bought on impulse, but healthcare products are a considered purchase, because ultimately you are dealing with health which is close to the consumer's heart. There is a need to go deeper into the mind of the consumer and come out with insights, which are always felt but seldom verbalised,” he says. In the OTC category, the comfort of a doctor's advice has been withdrawn and the concern for safety and efficacy is yet to be answered by the product, adds Jain.

Gangadharan Menon, Creative Director of the agency says, unlike other agencies, their strong backing of doctors and IT specialists help to cater the needs of the specialised sector.

Echoing Menon, Paresh Chaudhry, Director, Corporate Communications, Ranbaxy Labs, adds: “The sector does need specialists for positioning of products.”

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