MONEYBALL: Unlocking Your Brand’s Potential

This topic seems particularly appropriate with the World Series of Major League Baseball just passing. This year the Playoffs included teams like the Chicago Cubs, NY Mets and the new World Champions, the Kansas City Royals who haven’t qualified for playoff berths in years, that is, until they adopted their own version of the Moneyball philosophy.

Whether you’re an avid baseball fan, reader or movie buff, you’re probably familiar with the term “Moneyball,” which has changed the business of baseball through the sole fact that it challenged conventional wisdom.  So, as someone in the healthcare industry, why should you care?

The premise of the book/film Moneyball is that the collected wisdom of baseball insiders over the past century is highly subjective and often flawed. Statistics such as batting average, runs batted in (RBIs) and stolen bases, typically used to gauge players, are relics of a 19th-century view of the game and the data available at that time.

The new analytical model introduced through Moneyball proved the historically valued qualities of player performance to be less relevant than other metrics. These observations often flew in the face of conventional wisdom and the beliefs of many baseball scouts and executives (even to this day), leading to heated discussions and initial doubt around the overall concept.  

By re-evaluating the strategies that produce wins on the field, a team with approximately $44 million in salary became competitive with larger market teams such as the New York Yankees, who spent over $125 million in payroll that same season.  

The point: Moneyball is–about business–about how the use of nontraditional statistics, along with other measures, gave the Oakland A’s a competitive edge. Moneyball has come to mean being vigilant, reassessing, challenging assumptions and constraints to find a way that provides a competitive advantage.

The Parallel in Biopharmaceuticals

The industry’s conventional approach to brand positioning is subjective and often flawed. Your brand’s positioning is the basis of all communication about the brand.  It is the cornerstone of brand strategy.  Yet, the development of brand positioning is treated as a creative, rather than a strategic exercise. 

Pharmaceutical marketers more often than not launch brands on the basis of their team’s collective knowledge which is highly-valuable from a developmental perspective, but not so much when it comes time to pick Option A over B, C, or D. Without knowing which platform is truly best, there is no certainty that the strategy will actually work.  More importantly, there is no tangible rationale to explain why, what impact it will have on brand adoption, or on the competition. That’s why the vast majority of product launches result in mediocre commercial performance that has to be subsidized with costly expenditures in time and resources to keep the brand top of mind.

Why Settle for Mediocre?

The Launch Excellence series from IMS Health reported on over 10,000 Rx product launches in eight major markets.  Among these, less than 1% achieved Launch Success – that’s Groundhog Day – repeated failure for 9,900 (>99%) of those Rx launches.  With your brand – and your career – on the line, why would you want to repeat that performance?

The industry SOP for developing brand positioning is to hold a workshop where several positioning statements are created.  One to three of these may move forward into qualitative testing.  From these, one is selected as the positioning for the brand. The qualitative research conducted is not reproducible.  Resulting in inconsistent answers to the wrong questions. In some cases, quantitative testing may occur but using models retrofitted to test positioning instead of processes specifically designed and proven to identify all of the moving pieces and strategic considerations of what the positioning strengths and weaknesses are. The process is flawed because it is totally creative; not strategic. 

Time For A Game-Change!

Basically, the root problem that results in commercial failure is that positioning selection is based on performance through a single dimension.  Further, that performance is often based on subjective knowledge. With no research specifically designed for positioning to guide your team, you have no way to understand how stakeholders and payers perceive your brand relative to a need, and no one to advise you how to test for or interpret results.

Over a decade of guiding our clients has taught us an important lesson: the best positioning is often not the one that simply delivers the most prescriptions.  These decisions need to be made through a multi-dimensional lens to see the big picture.

If quantitative research is conducted, typically the stimuli tested are too narrow for an accurate assessment, leaving much more information on the table.  The industry as a whole must challenge the idea of creating brand positioning in a vacuum that biases output.  Otherwise the final decision is not far from a coin toss.

Defy the Conventional.  Play To Win!

OptiBrand Rx can help you in a variety of ways based on your timing and situation.  Our BrandPowerTM quantitative validation model is designed specifically for pharmaceutical marketing with extraordinary results.

Engaging in a good quantitative model should help you understand more than just what resonates most with the audience but also the following:

  • What is the ideal patient as seen by prescribers?

  • How elastic is the ideal patient based on key prescribing attributes?

  • In a mature market, which currently available products are we taking share from or replacing?

  • What are the behavioral groupings (not quite segmentation) that are most likely to use our product and why?

  • How well does our positioning score against critical components of positioning (i.e. sustainability)?

  • What is the baseline preference share and how does our positioning impact change?

  • What emotions are we eliciting and how do they impact prescribing?

  • What are the key proof points / RTBs to support our strategy and what value do each of them hold?

  • How does the corporate brand impact the perceptions of brands in the market?

  • Customized strategic questions based on the specific project.

These metrics deliver more rigor to the brand positioning process.  That can be a game changer for your brand. Just like Moneyball in baseball, the investment in this type of quantitative model can save promotional dollars while driving significant sales. The results give you a competitive edge to deliberately differentiate your brands in ways your competitors are not yet considering. This approach enables you to align global marketing teams and give your agencies a data-driven brand story so they can do their best work. We have phenomenal case studies that demonstrate success.

Moneyball revolutionized the business of baseball.  Isn’t it time to revolutionize Rx brand performance?