Asia needs no further introduction to healthcare-related businesses. With overall healthcare spending across the region projected to exceed USD 2.2 trillion by 2026 driven by an aging population and a rising middle class, Asia holds exciting prospects for healthcare manufacturers and service providers alike.
While the demand is clear for all to see, the supply side in many markets within the region remains undersupplied and underdeveloped. How can you tap into the great opportunities to access markets and establish your brand presence with Asian consumers? Here are my five tips.
Market research is critical in understanding each market’s consumers. You need to acquire detailed consumer insights on how consumers use specific products and how they affect them. Once you have this in-depth information, you can figure out if there are any unmet consumer needs and take advantage of the opportunities.
The result of this research also helps to reaffirm initial market assumptions which help to reduce the business risks and limit the chances of failure. The findings would also likely provide a different perspective for your products and services when going up against existing competitors.
An example of a healthcare brand that benefited from undertaking market research is Hiruscar – a quick-absorbing, non-greasy and film-free clear gel that helps reduce scar visibility. After having conducted extensive market research, we had a better understanding of pricing strategy as well as validating the marketing potential of the premium scar care market. The product was subsequently retargeted at the premium market and is currently outperforming market growth.
To establish a presence in this competitive marketplace, it is crucial to develop a mission and vision. To illustrate why, let’s take the example of Swiss-based company, Medinova.
Medinova developed a clear vision to be a globally recognized pharmaceutical brand supplier and a reliable source for improving the user’s quality of life. The company aims to do this through their mission which is to develop and market a niche selection of high-quality products at competitive prices in selected therapeutic fields.
As you can see, the synergy between their vision and mission provides customers – as well as the company itself – with a clear purpose. Through using this positioning consistently, it has allowed the company and its range of products to become clearly recognized and successful.
Another area that you need to be clear and consistent in is how you talk about your products. You need to focus your consumers’ attention on the product’s main qualities and effectiveness in overcoming the specific problems they are facing, in other words, what do they get out of it? This is critical to building awareness about your product among consumers and medical professionals and to establishing a good reputation that your brand can deliver on your promise to patients in a credible and reputable manner.
Hirudoid is an example of a brand that has done well in highlighting its product benefits to users. As it contains mucopolysaccharides which helps resolve bruising and superficial venous disorders, the brand consistently focuses on conveying this benefit to patients and end-users.
As consumers are increasingly making decisions driven by cost and time efficiency as well as, of course, the desire to optimize their health, you must engage with them through a tailored omni-channel marketing approach to meet these demands.
For any marketing campaign to be effective, you need to ensure that the key messages reach the different platforms and consumer touch points, both online and offline. You can carry out a huge campaign, but this will not be successful if it does not reach your target audience.
Whether it is through traditional channels like clinics, hospitals and pharmacies or via modern channels including hypermarkets, convenience stores, petrol stations and e-retailers, the goal of achieving optimal coverage is to have the right product placed in the right channel where the target consumer segment will access.
When entering a new market, it is important to understand the marketplace since you will be competing against established brands. For healthcare companies without a presence in their target market, getting to grips with the local culture, regulatory knowledge, business contacts and local relationship building can be a major challenge.
Before starting, you will need to ask yourself questions including: “How do we currently manage increasingly fragmented communications and physical channel structures?” and “How do we decide where to focus our available resources and what streams can we outsource?”
If it feels overwhelming to start from scratch, one option to consider is to partner with long-established experts who can help you to create a clear business strategy and effectively expand your business with minimal risks and barriers. DKSH is such an organization. It has a proven track record and is widely recognized in helping healthcare companies expand their products, brands and services portfolio, particularly in Asia.
Asia offers vast opportunities for healthcare product manufacturers and service providers. Using the above tips, I hope you can initiate your first steps into your target markets and create stronger brand awareness with Asian consumers. Do share your thoughts with me on other important considerations for healthcare products to successfully access Asia.
Pamela Tan, a Singapore national, is based in Bangkok. She has been Medinova’s Regional Director for APAC region since September 2009. She leads in driving growth for the Therapeutic Skincare OTC/Consumer Healthcare portfolio, including business development and new product development.
Medinova is a subsidiary of DKSH. The company develops and manufactures prescription in the areas of gynecology and dermatology, and markets its products in Switzerland and internationally.