Focus, Focus, Focus!

by buildingpharmabrands

Frame with Hands

What is focus?

Steve Jobs described focus the best in his own inimitable style soon after his return to Apple, the company he once CO-founded, at the Apple Developers’ Conference in 1997 during the Q&A session. He said: Focus is about saying No. And the result of that focus is going to be some really great products, where the total is much greater than the sum of the parts.

Focus is also about sacrifice. It is tempting for brand managers to leverage as much value as they can from the equities of their brand – something at the expense of why your brand matters in the first place. It is simply not possible to appeal to all customers in all segments however versatile your brand may be. A brand manager, like a good parent sometimes has to just say No. The more you say no, the more focused and valuable the brand becomes.

Saying no is not going to be easy. There will always be tempting, quantifiable opportunities to promote your brand in a number of indications that seems to make eminent sense, but you may intuitively feel and know that doing that will distract the brand from its reason for being. Focus, therefore is precise positioning of your product in the minds of the consumers.

Here is a brief case showing what clear focus can help you achieve.

The Case of Fefol and Livogen Capsules

The multi-hematinic market in India during the 1980s was highly fragmented with over a hundred-and-one brands. The market size was around ₹ 200 million with an annual growth  rate of 1.2 per cent. Most of the brands did not have a clearly defined positioning strategy. A typical list of indications for no-position hematinic looked like this: In anaemias due to diverse causes such as increased requirements of hematinics during pregnancy, lactation, convalescence, due to malnutrition, due to restricted diet in obesity, chronic infectious diseases, tuberculosis, anorexia nervosa,  achlorhydria, post-gastroctomy or gastro-jejunoctomy, chronic haemorrhoids, hookworm infestation , etc.

Only two brands, Fefol (Eskay Labs then and now part of GSK) and Livogen Capsules (Allenburys division of Glaxo) had a clear positioning strategy. Both were positioned as Pregnancy Hematinics. Why? Because, prescription research indicated that pregnancy accounted for about seventy per cent of the hematinic prescriptions and usage.

Fefol stayed with the theme Part of the routine during pregnancy and lactation consistently for many years. They had put their might behind this position (the mother and baby contests as one unique promotional strategy they had adopted to reinforce their positioning) and reaped a rich harvest of prescriptions.

Close on their heels was Livogen Capsules, which stayed on with its very strong, persuasive and distinctive theme, the only hematinic that provides 11 Blood-building Factors for the Mother and 5 mg of folic acid for the Fetus. This is not to say that other hematinics were not promoted in pregnancy. Pregnancy was one of the several indications in which other hematinics were promoted. Whereas both Fefol, and Livogen Capsules were positioned only in pregnancy and stayed on with that position unwaveringly and unflinchingly!

It had always been a neck-to-neck race to brand leadership for Fefol and Livogen Capsules, with a negligible difference of less than one per cent of market share points. Fefol had a market share of 11.6 per cent and Livogen Capsules about 10.9 per cent in 1992. Later, Merck had acquired Livogen Capsules brand.

What is the secret behind the success of these two brand leaders: Fefol and Livogen Capsules?

Focus, Focus, Focus!