KOL Insights for Successful Product Launches

Lackluster performance of new launches is becoming all too common for pharmaceutical companies. After years of product development, companies launch a promising new product in the market only to see it fall short of their expectations.

According to McKinsey data, ~2/3rd of product launches do not meet pre-launch revenue expectations. Thus, it becomes crucial for brand and product managers to have access to the right market insights to avoid a failed launch.

Actionable insights can help pharma managers make better informed commercial decisions to power brand and therapy growth.

The 5 key crucial insights needed for a successful launch are

  1. Understanding the market, competition and the target prescriber-base

  2. Defining a compelling value proposition and the right marketing strategy to highlight it

  3. Testing of the campaign visuals, messaging and pricing approach

  4. Launching the marketing campaign

  5. Tracking campaign/product performance and iterating early on

From the launch perspective, insight collection activities can be divided into four stages - early, pre, during and post launch. In this article, we will focus mainly on early and pre-launch activities.

What makes Pre-launch Insight Collection so Challenging?

While any market launch is challenging, what makes pharma product launches especially difficult is the fact that in this industry, market research is required to be done today, while the launch is a few years (1, 3, maybe 7-10) in the future. To address this issue, most market research methods analyse current trends and extrapolate the results to the future. But given the rapid pace of medical advancements – precision medicine, gene therapy, digital therapeutics etc., such practices might not bear the most precise results.

So how do we effectively plan for products to be launched in the future? The key lies in conducting market research strategically and with a futuristic bent. To assess how users will react to a new product, researchers generally rely on the opinions of key opinion leaders (KOLs). This group typically consists of 2 diverse sects - either people very hesitant towards adopting a new product or people quite open to it. Together, the two groups bring in diversity in their response and reaction towards the product. But it isn’t always possible to arrive at a conclusive decision when working with KOLs, given the acute difference in their opinions.

To address this roadblock, many market research methods consider only “future thinkers” or “early adopters” for the analysis. But again, the definition of future thinking or early adoption is far from definite. Also, a person might be inclined to adopt one new product while act reluctant towards trying another. Thus, generalizing these trends and bucketing people in such categories isn’t the most practical solution either.

How can you help KOLs Envision the Future more Effectively?

As market research for pharma product launches heavily depends on forward thinking, we suggest that you use a few of the techniques listed below, to help KOLs envision the future better.

Disruptive time-lining

This technique helps to create a mental framework by priming the respondent to think of different timelines in a short span of time. An e.g. start by discussing a recent conference/event (1-3 months), and then talk about probable scenarios in therapy development in the future (8-10 years), and then ask them to share views on their views on near future developments (your launch horizon).

Discuss visible future anchors

Bringing to notice events that are almost certain to happen, for instance, a new health policy implementation, or a drug patent period coming to an end, helps people feel more confident about envisioning the future. These anchor events help them analyse and estimate likely future scenarios with more conviction.

Capture immediate, and not just thought-through reactions

This method lays great emphasis on a respondent’s immediate thoughts and reactions to a stimulus. Noting people’s gut reactions without allowing them to form rationalised or complicated opinions helps to gauge their true and unfiltered view-points.

Showcase prospective future products

Another relevant powerful technique is to discuss product features that have a high likelihood to exist in the foreseeable future. This gives an individual some idea about how the product will progress over time, and the impact it will have on clinician and patient behaviour.

What sets apart an extraordinary pharma product launch is great commercial insights. And this is only possible if you have a strong and diverse board of KOLs. They need to be regularly engaged with, and informed about all product features, regulatory compliance, immediate and long-term benefits and expected side-effects. With these aspects taken care of, you are on your way to introducing the next game-changing pharma product and ensuring it realises its true potential.

The team at pharmapro can help you navigate this process successfully, with digital tools that can help at each step of the insight journey. Our proprietary physician profile mapping tool can help you better manage KOL relationships. A suite of virtual advisory board tools can help you execute a successful KOL session at a fraction of the time and cost compared to offline solutions.

To know more email us or submit your project requirement for a customised quote.