A Launch By Any Other Name

Dear House Rules,

One of my clients is launching a new product for a recently-established disease state. Another is launching a me-too brand in a 20-year-old category. Should I recommend the same strategies/tactics to each, since they’re both launch brands?


A Launch is a Launch

Dear Launch Confusion,

Definitely not. There’s a fiction that’s still taught in many business schools—that of the product lifecycle. It tells us that any product in “launch mode” is appealing to the same customer. The innovator. The early adopter.

In pharma, of course, that’s just not true. It is very important to understand that not all drug classes will be seen as “new” in the sense that people discuss a new technology. The drug class is just as important as, if not more important than, the drug itself. For example, Prozac did not have a product lifecycle curve as we know it, but rather that of the antidepressant class. It was the first SSRI to market—a completely new way of treating clinical depression, and a major difference from the older Tricyclic antidepressants which most physicians used.

What does this mean to you? 

First, understand where your brand fits into the market. If you are about to launch the first drug in a new category that treats a disease in a very different way, your first users will be the innovators and early adopters. You will need to help them understand why your product’s way of treating the disease is better.

How about that me-too brand? 

If your new product doesn’t represent a breakthrough—even if it is far superior to anything in the market—you are entering the product lifecycle at a different stage—not really a launch at all. Your customers aren’t “Innovators” and may not be “early adopters” even if they are the first to prescribe your drug. They, like the others using competitive products, are already comfortable with what your drug does. They don’t need to learn about it from the ground up. What they do need to learn is why it’s better than the other guys. To sort out the delicate balance within the product cycle, work with a professional design firm.

Not all launch brands are created equal.

About Xavier Creative House

Founded in 2013, Xavier Creative House (XCH) is an award-winning healthcare creative agency specializing in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device. XCH’s global team of brand builders and healthcare marketers, tech-savvy go-getters, and innovative dream-vetters are passionate about the big idea that changes behavior in the healthcare marketplace. They believe life is about connections and that healthcare is about life. That is why XCH delivers bold and evocative creative solutions, amplified by meaningful technology, to energize brands and authentically connect with patients and HCPs.

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