Tag Archives: indian brands

India – Greenfield Opportunity for Social Media in HealthCare and Pharma.

8 Feb

Meds India

The other day while looking at an RFP from a potential client, I was struck by this almost damning statement – “Currently there are no formal regulatory or legal obligations specific to social media and guidance from the FDA is not expected in the near future”.

Everyone in the Healthcare/ Pharma world has been complaining about the lack of adequate regulatory guidelines – whether it is from the FDA or the NHS – for Digital/ Social Media participation, but also for listening/ research purposes for Pharma and Healthcare companies. Its true, the regulatory bodies have been languishing – but whats happened is, that after a period of acting coy about it, most US based pharma companies have decided to be proactive (albeit in different degrees) about pharmacovigilance, and therefore have started self regulating.

Segue away to India – the 3rd largest pharma market in the world (from a volume perspective) and maybe the largest in generics?. Question – what is the state of Social Media for Healthcare here. Answer? umm – ground zero pretty much 😦

Lets look at some facts for Social Media/ Internet for Health Care. Given low penetration of computers/ internet, this is an ever debated issue. But, of all people online (and many folks as we know are now online thanks to mobiles not so much internet) – figures for those seeking medical/ health related info are fairly high – as high as in western countries (we are talking the 70s/ 80s here). Some older figures can be seen here


Now lets look at where Health Care is going in India in general –
a) Burden of disease is shifting from acute to chronic diseases – so therapies are changing
b) Focus of medicine/ the mindset is still very “reactive”/ treatment oriented – though that is changing a bit, with “wellness” coming into the picture. (I remember doing a country clustering exercise for a client some 4 years ago – based on scientific vs. alternate treatment types/ and “proactive”/ vs. “reactive” type of healthcare mindset. No surprises – India was at the peak of both axes).
c) Doctor patient ratio remains abyssmal – some 6 practitioners apparently for 10,000 people (add a rural-urban skew and numbers will be appalling)
d) Patient communities still non existent almost

Given this, does Social media have a role to play? (despite the usual/ global fears of – confidentiality/ liability/ responsibility/ authenticity of content/ potential crisis that Social Media always raises when spoken about in conjunction with Healthcare) Yes ofcourse – specially in building communities/ advisory forums for therapy as well as proactive lifestyle management. Sure, it wont be the 100 bil people – but can we atleast reach a percentage of it incrementally? Are we doing that?

Incidentally, where care is concerned – i saw a great example recently when I took my dad to get his eye treated. There was a youtube video playing of a (I assume) complicated eye surgery done in Bangalore – and this apparently had been streamed to a remote location when a less experienced doctor had been faced with it!

I did my usual research.

Top Indian Pharma companies:

#1: Ranbaxy
#2: Cipla
#3: Dr. Reddy’s Labs

Ranbaxy has popular OTCs like Volini, Revital, Chericof, Pepfiz. Revital has a facebook page, with some 27K odd likes. Fairly active – contests running, tips etc on bones/ diet, frequent updates. Also a mobile app. Looks like some of the other brands are beginning their Social media journey too.

Cipla has a dedicated portal for HCPs (Ciplamed) but no facebook page. The doctor resource seems fairly unidirectional in terms of messaging. It does have carebeyondcure.org, a palliative care and training center.

Dr. Reddy’s has a facebook page – some 60K likes. Talks about Cancer/ world cancer day. Vitamins/ diet/ symptoms of dyslexia/ airborne diseases/ tips etc – also fairly active.
Has also many microsites – friends forever for alumni, for the legacy of Dr. Reddy’s (drreddysjourney) – (that even has a twitter handle), an ebusiness portal Vikreta2DRL, one for its R&D organization.

But, I couldn’t find any evidence of communities which these brands were sponsoring/ active on – so looked like they are just using facebook as a “connection” medium, more unidirectional tips etc – good for first steps, but leaves a lot to be desired.

I thought I would take a look at global pharma’s presence in India. In order of revenues, the top 3 big pharma in India are: GSK, Abbott, Sanofi.

GSK doesn’t have any India specific sites, (they do have US and other countries for their brands – Calpol/ Alli being the main ones). Neither does Abbott or Sanofi. I did see a facebook campaign called Bluediwali for Sanofi – on diabetes, but all their other properties were global/ other countries. Thinking maybe this is part of their strategy (keep unified global properties) I ran a check – it’s not true, they do have lots of country specific sites – mainly Mexico and Turkey specially! For a decent look at Social Media properties, check out this wiki.Note how many country specific sites/ communities exist that are being sponsored by the global pharma?

So this I don’t understand – large untreated patient population. Sure, low internet penetration. Also trend shifting to chronic treatment. Also, everyone says medicine is a very “local” issue – then why aren’t the global majors more active here?. Regulation on this practically doesn’t exist (even otherwise Indian regulation scenario is complex – its split between the Center and the State for one) but given largely self regulation in the U.S., certainly the pharma companies can extend that here.

Actually, if you ask me – even more so than company pages/ handles, India is pretty much greenfield opportunity to activate and then “own” patient communities – as support for therapeutic conditions. These may not entirely replace “Dr. Google”, but will certainly lend well directed, authentic support to the teeming millions. I can also see development in apps for adherence – which actually is a big area for Pharma even globally. (I downloaded a cardiograph on my iphone the other day – helps me monitor my heart rate 🙂 – nice toy!)


Another area would be support for Doctors – like a U.K> company’s fortnightly twitter journal aimed at peer to peer conversation (or Sermo in the U.S. or Dooox in Germany). Most urban doctors atleast have computers in their clinics nowadays – and I am sure they can use the peer network support. (Will hopefully shift the burden of weekend medical conferences/ train the trainer programs etc to semi urban and rural areas which sorely need them!)

Net net, reservations and all, there is immense scope for Social media in the Healthcare and Pharma sector – from Govt. bodies using it, to Practice Management committees, to Pharma companies and finally Patient Advocacy groups.

Wonder who will be the first to step up and become “early entrants” in this 13 billionish market!


Social Media Rank of India’s Most Desirable Brands

29 Jan

Today’s is a lazy blog. a) It’s a follow up to another that I’d posted a few days ago – where I’d said I’d run some analysis on this subject. Lazy therefore because I didn’t have to think of a new topic. b) Its lazy because it’s more information – that I just needed to collate from various sites – and not so much opinions – for which I have to think a bit, organise my thoughts, maybe run some parallel research, and then write. Interesting paradox – in sheer physical effort of the research, these kinds of blogs actually require more hard labour – so, let me say this is a mentally lazy blog – though its a physically active one.

The above also upfronts a rather interesting debate (actually nowadays not so much debate as positioning/ messaging) on “data” vs. “information”..”knowledge” vs. “intelligence”. At one time, we contemplated using a tagline for our company that said – “data tells a story” (then junked it on grounds that it was too commonplace). So, in this post, I’ve collated some figures and will comment on it – rather than the other way around – have an opinion and then build a story around it.

Well, to finally get down to the actual post – just as I had promised, I attempted to rank India’s most Desirable Brands on their Social Media Presence. Here’s how they stack up:

Indian Ranking For Desired Brands

Findings therefore:

a) Both Desirable and Trusted Brands don’t really care about Social Media presence – obviously, their status on trust and desirability has far preceded the social media phenomenon – so, yes maybe it’s arrogance.

b) There isn’t really a pattern in these findings – some have made fair amounts of effort to create social media presence, and some haven’t (again shows the lack of correlation between status and marketing atleast in new media for these brands)

c) The car brands, being in the consumer space, are obviously the most active – with adoption of even Pinterest – the most visual/ sensory channel – this is logic, and contrary to my findings in the Trusted list – where even the food brands didn’t have a Pinterest presence (maybe this underlines the difference between Trust (read higher arrogance) and Desire – far more sensory, and therefore also maybe ephemeral.

d) EVERYONE, but everyone has youtube channels – not a surprise again, but clearly shows the importance of the audio-visual/ animated rather than static medium

e) At first I was surprised when I didn’t see facebook page for Google – realised later they wouldn’t promote competition 🙂 – they do have G+ account linked from their page. The same is kind of true for Apple/ iPad.

f) Many brands use sub properties/ brands that are more powerful – again, makes sense from overall marketing strategy perspective – Adidas is one such – has Social Media sites devoted to various sports – adidascricket for example. Interestingly, clearly has a country specific strategy for this as well – so while the cricket site is India specific, the golf one is not (shows status of cricket in India – where it’s not a sport but a religion)

g) Most brands use common global Linkedin sites – again, given this is a recruiting medium primarily, it kind of makes sense. Interestingly here however, was the fact that IBM’s status in the “most desirable” list was really only as a recruiter (India is a large base for IBM) – and YET they don’t have an India specific site. A little contrary to my expectation, Microsoft’s status was NOT only as a recruiter – it got there because of products as well – and YET they DO have a Linkedin page dedicated to India – with the largest no. of subscribers in this list, and a link on their home page (Microsoft also has a large base in India)

What this really tells me is that
a) There is no accounting for people’s perceptions (hence we should all abandon marketing – just kidding)
b) Looks like the ivy league companies in India are resting on their laurels – Doomsday warning – This will come back to bite you – stay ahead of the curve! (more on that another time)
and finally,
c) Trust and Desire are probably opposite ends of the spectrum.

For a detailed look at what went in to the renaming, here you are:

Most Desired Brands

Trust and Social Media Presence: No Correlation for Indian Brands

22 Jan

In my inbox this morning was a nice infograph of Top U.S. Retail Brands‘ presence on Social Media (Wal-Mart topped the fb list with some 26 mil odd Facebook Likes).

I thought i’d checked what this looked like for top Indian brands. There were a few lists (with , surprisingly, Blackberry having 23 mil odd likes on Facebook), but I thought I’d flip the screen, and see how salient the top Indian brands were on Social Media.

The Brand Equity Top Trusted Brands List struck me as an interesting one to check for — we keep reading about the Trust Barometer, and how it correlates (well actually mostly doesn’t) with what brands have to say for themselves. Looks like Indian brands agree wholeheartedly!

So, here it is – how the top Indian most trusted brands stack up on Social Media presence (I mean marketing, NOT chatter):

Indian Trusted Brands on Social Media

With the stark exception of Nokia India, which, hello, is a “tech” brand almost, atleast deals with tech, and selling mobiles, SHOULD have active social media presence, very few of our trusted brands actually are doing much on these channels – youtube and facebook in some cases being the only exception. Even fewer actually link to their digital pages from their home page. Even the leader Nokia, has some 5 mil plus likes on facebook (as compared to the 23 mil odd for Blackberry)

It’s a surprise, because many of them are food brands, and i would have thought that atleast food would use Pinterest (they do have recipes on their home pages).

What do you think this is – arrogance? Or just legacy (which is one reason why these brands are “trusted”).

What would the picture be however if I were to choose the list of the “most desired”, not the most trusted? Wait till tomorrow to find out!…:)