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Kartik Raina

MD, | 28 Nov 2002

"Loyalty clubs and home to home promotions are more interactive and give greater time to talk to the consumer. I believe it will build brand shares faster than usage of other media vehicles"

In Brand Speak this time, we talk to Kartik Raina, Managing Director, Dr. Morepen, and try to analyze the consumer buying patterns, Dr. Morepen's branding stratagem and the way it is trying to change the OTC market into FMHG market.

Q. What drives pharmaceutical marketing in India? What about over- the-counter (OTC) medicines?

I will not be talking about the prescription market as that is influenced by the doctor, but if we talk about the market where the consumer makes his or her own choice by getting influenced by advertising and word of mouth, we have two distinct types of markets. There is an informed market, which is predominantly in the urban areas, this is the market where the consumer is exposed to advertising or could be exposed to a friend's experience, and he consciously takes a decision to buy a product. But in the rural belt there is a lot of uninformed decisions, where people like the Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) or a chemist can sway the decision of the consumer on a particular product.

Q. What is the branding strategy of Dr. Morepen in the years to come? What is the unique selling proposition of Dr. Morepen?

Well, Dr. Morepen right from the start has adopted a principle of umbrella branding, where we have basically one mother brand, or one umbrella brand called Dr. Morepen which stands for two core values: first is health and second empowerment, signified by the line 'health in your hands'. We felt that if we get into the business of advertising each product as a separate entity then commercially it will be very difficult to break even, it will take a long time. So, we will continue to invest some amount of money every year in promoting, Dr. Morepen as an overall brand. And make sure that each of our individual brands gets an initial introduction to the consumer, and thereafter it carries on with the umbrella of Dr. Morepen.

Q. How has been the response from the consumers? Can you give us a few facts indicating the success of Dr. Morepen's strategy?

Dr. Morepen as a brand has got an extremely powerful response both from both consumers as well as a lot of stakeholders. We are being seen as a lifestyle health product and not as a conventional OTC product. Like powdered soft drinks are traditionally been promoted as a natural product with good taste. We have a product C Sip in this category. When we did brand-tracks we found that the consumers feel C Sip is healthier than any other powdered soft drinks available, because it is from Dr. Morepen. If we look at the average monthly sales that we were doing in November last year, at the moment we are roughly 25 times that level. Of course, part of it has happened because we have added new products, part of it has also happened because we have gone to newer cities as a part of our strengthening our distribution. A very important part of why our strategy has worked very well for us is that we have acquired two new brands, 'Burnol' and 'Lemolate'.

Q. How is 'Burnol' doing in the market?

Well, last year the total sale of 'Burnol' was about 4.8 crores. This year we started selling 'Burnol' on our own only from July, and we have already touched a level of sales close to 4 crore. If we see over the last few years, the average sale of 'Burnol' has been about 6-6.2 crores. The way we are going for the period July (2002) to March (2003) we expect to do close to 7 crores.

Q. What are the major challenges in repositioning brands, which have been there for years, say 'Burnol', which came into the market about 60 years ago?

If we look at the history of 'Burnol', it was always positioned for burns, in between an attempt was made to make it an antiseptic, the consumer never really accepted that. So, what we have done is that we have really brought it back to being a burns product, very clearly. However, we have gone for a subtle change, we have brought in a factor of protection. And therefore the storyline is basically it 'protects skin'. With this, we feel we will be able to take the consumer through a transition which first says, 'Burnol is great for burns, it protects your skin against burns', in the second stage we will say 'Burnol protects your skin from burns because it understand burns'. And the third stage, 'It understands burns because it has a great knowledge of skin.' And then when we launch newer products for other skin ailments like cuts and wounds, they will carry the heritage of 'Burnol'. The difference will be while 'Burnol' the brand will be about burns, the other products will be from the makers of Burnol. That's how we will carry the equity.

Q. How important role does distribution plays in the Indian pharmaceutical market? And why?

Extremely important, you may have created a demand for the product but the consumer is not going to run around to 10 or 12 shops because your product are not life saving products. So, distribution is very important and along with it, visibility is very important. For example 'Burnol', you may not have a burn but you may feel that I must keep the product with me. So, when you enter the shop, visibility of Burnol at the point-of-purchase (POP) acts as a reminder. I think the blend of both distribution and merchandising is very critical. Second thing, that we have draw link between our media efforts and distribution, it is very critical that wherever your media goes it should be backed by distribution.

Q. How does Dr. Morepen plan to change the landscape of the OTC market in the next five years? What are the initiatives?

I think the first thing I would like to say is that we tend to define the category we are operating in as Fast Moving Health Goods (FMHG) and not OTC. The motive of taking a medicine has changed from sheer relief to swinging you back to normal lifestyle. So, we have defined the category of ailments we call lifestyle inhibitors, these are ailments that prevent you from leading your present lifestyle. The second area, is an area called lifestyle enhancer, where the consumer wants to enhance his lifestyle, within the area of health. In the future we are planning to come up with nutraceuticals, vitamin supplements and a lot of health drinks.

Q. What stages does a pharmaceutical brand go through to become the best brand in the minds of the people? How is it different from evolution of brands in other categories?

In the pharmaceutical business there are two ways in which branding actually happens. One way is to convert an ethical brand into an OTC brand. In this category come products which are prescription based, but over a period of time newer drugs take their place with advanced molecules. So, the incremental growth in their sale declines. That's where the role of converting an ethical into an OTC starts. Almost 70-80% of the pharmaceutical business today is based on this branding strategy. But increasingly more and more companies are getting directly into building a new OTC brand. In the recent times, Paras Pharmaceuticals has done well in this area, they have picked up niche segments and brought in products. 'Moov' and 'Crack' are such examples. So, I have a feeling more and more companies will be moving in the direct OTC market.

Q. What are the customer buying patterns in case of medicines (both prescribed/OTC)? And how are they different in the metros as compared to semi urban/rural areas?

If the person is bringing in the prescription, then either it's a written prescription or he remembers the name orally. In case of prescription, if the brand written on the prescription can be easily substituted with some other brand by the chemist, with same composition, and the consumer accepts it, branding as an exercise doesn't really works. In the FMHG segment, the consumers get influenced by the advertising, promotions we have done and he starts relating the particular brand in context of his lifestyle. If it's a quasi- serious ailment like acidity, constipation, the consumer tends to move towards the chemist or a general store that has a drug license and generally dispenses the drugs. But if you take a product in the lifestyle enhancer category like C Sip, there a consumer would go to the Kirana or grocery store. If we talk about our candies like Gol Goli, the consumer will buy it from the pan shop.

Q. What do you feel about the use of media for building pharmaceutical brands? Any new trend or observation?

In terms of role, I feel the most potent medium is going to be television, primarily for the companies with an urban skew. Television will be important but the challenge will be how to get your numbers through addressing a highly fragmented market. Second is the increasing role of what we call media inversion, where you use a lot of below the line activities to constantly appeal to the consumer and win their loyalty. Things like loyalty clubs, and home to home promotions give greater time to talk to the consumer, its more interactive, and I believe it will build brand shares faster than just above the line activities. So, I feel media inversion will take over. In print I feel, magazines are certainly better as they are repeatedly visited media, so through a magazine you can get a repeat OTS of your advertising.

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