Pharmaceutical Branding: Surveying the Market Landscape


In an earlier blog post, we shared our perspective on the difference between positioning and value prop for pharmaceutical brands. We posited that positioning is the value prop within the context of the market landscape, and we shared the following ‘brand equation’:

Market landscape + value prop = brand positioning
We wanted to expand on that earlier post by describing the key elements of the market landscape that pharmaceutical brands should seek to understand in order to develop effective positioning. Prior to developing brand positioning, it’s important to have a deep understanding of the marketplace. While this sounds obvious, it is all too common for pharmaceutical marketers to embark on a positioning effort without a fundamental understanding of the marketplace in which their product is positioned. Too often, marketers feel that they already understand their marketplace, and they assume they know how customers will respond to their new product. Instead, we recommend a rigorous customer insight process to map the market landscape across four key characteristics: target audience, competitive set, unmet needs and use cases. Prior to developing brand positioning, it’s critical for the brand team to provide clear answers to the following questions:

  • Target audience: For whom is the product positioned?
  • Competitive set: What competitors is the product positioning against?
  • Unmet needs: What are customers’ biggest frustrations with the competitive set?
  • Use cases: How will customers use the product in addressing their needs?

Although these market landscaping questions are quite familiar to most marketers, we often see pharmaceutical brand teams skip this market landscaping effort in their brand positioning efforts. In our experience, the most successful brands are those that rigorously research and define their market landscape.

Dan Callahan is the Founder and President of Vivisum Partners. He specializes in creating multi-phase research programs that combine quantitative, qualitative and strategic facilitation methodologies. Email Dan at dan.callahan@vivisumpartners.com