How crowdsourcing and AI help OTC brands make their retail execution perfect in every pharmacy

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Likewise other go-to-market strategies – Brand Recommendation (advice given by pharmacists on specific brands when consumers ask for a recommendation for medicine) is one of the most crucial elements for any pharmaceutical brand wishing to increase market penetration and sales, yet only a few manufacturers are actively focusing on implementing valuable strategies alongside this growth driver.

Brand Recommendation — Make Pharmacist Your Brand Advocate

According to recent shopping behaviour studies about 70% of purchase decisions are driven by pharmacists’ advice on a specific product. As a consequence, this has a massive impact on brands market shares and sell-out performances. Despite this, many OTC Pharma brands are still failing to implement effective strategies to inform the majority of pharmacists on key features and benefits of their products. The challenge of monitoring this kind of information is certainly huge: the retail execution landscape is nowadays extremely fragmented, especially when it comes to the pharmaceutical channel, where nearly 100% of European pharmacies are classified as a small or independent point of sale.

Today, all major players are using their internal or external field teams to collect in-store data to measure their performance KPI during their visits to the pharmacies to do the detailing. However, this data collection method has its obvious downsides. First is the cost. Involving field teams in data collection means distracting them from their primary function, which is detailing. Second, is the coverage, which is limited to the pharmacies that they have on the route. And the last by not least, is the objectivity of this data, especially when it comes to Brand Recommendation. This type of information should be collected objectively using the mystery shopper type of approach.

The use of market research agencies is not perfect either, due relatively small size of the samples they used to extrapolate insights to the entire universe. But the biggest issue is data delivery lead time. Brands usually obtain the data a few weeks after the data collection happened in the pharmacy. By that time, it is already too late to solve the problem. As a result, clients receive very generalized data (very often this info is not provided on pharmacy level), with a critical delay, and cannot use it to efficiently action on identified issues.

Luckily today, OTC brands can leverage a totally new technological approach by using Crowdsourcing in combination with Artificial Intelligence to collect, process and deliver this data in near real-time to field team to optimize their routes and intelligently direct them into the pharmacies they can make the most impact, and eliminate wasted calls to the “compliant pharmacies”.

 

Simple, Fast and Accessible Tool

A few years ago, we realized at BeMyEye that in order to solve these problems of actionability and objectivity of field data we need to unite two key elements — collective activity and technology. On the one hand, the ability to collect data at a low cost, in all retail channels is crucial. On the other, it is important to analyse this information quickly and turn it into a map of activities for the clients to make data-driven decisions faster.

At the moment, there are more than 2 million data gathers, so-called Eyes, at BeMyEye involved in data collection. These are ordinary people who installed BeMyEye mobile app on their smartphones to make some extra money by going to retail locations to take pictures of products on the shelf or to check what are brands that pharmacists recommend the most. Some people do this work from time to time while others treat it as a full-time job and visit dozens of stores every day. Thanks to game elements integrated into the app, many users take it as a fun quest and therefore can accomplish these missions for the lower cost, involving new Eyes in this activity.

When data is collected by the crowd, AI technologies automatically validate it and translate the numbers into KPIs instantly to present it in the online dashboards for the Clients’ HQ users and in the mobile devices to the field teams. This service is currently available in 20 European countries and Russia, which allows manufacturers to have a single international view at once using the same methodology.

Today, BeMyEye helps pharmaceutical companies and distributors to translate brand recommendation data into actions. The insights collected by the BeMyEye’s crowd are directly put into the hands of field sales management, which can easily track through a dashboard what happens – in real-time – across the entire retail estate. Sales managers are empowered with the recommendation rate of their brands at the country, region, territory or pharmacy level. Moreover, they can monitor performances by single field rep and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the members of their field team, for coaching, training and driving remuneration schemes.

Alongside filed management insights, we provide field reps and pharmaceutical detailers with a list of prioritized pharmacies where brand advocacy is high, low or non-existent, to dynamically plan their visits to the pharmacies with low brand recommendation scores. They see a map with the pins of different colours, depending on score. For example, an orange pin indicates there are mild problems, and the issues can be solved by calling the pharmacy and asking their staff to do something. The red pin stands for more complex issues which usually can be resolved only by visiting the pharmacy.

This information allows to dynamically optimize field resources and intelligently directing them to the pharmacies that most need visiting, so they can focus 100% of their time on building relationships with pharmacy managers and ensuring their detailing messages are coming across well. Fields reps and pharmaceutical detailers are also empowered whit a list of reasons why their product is (or is not) recommended, so they can have all the information they need to educate pharmacists before even entering the pharmacy.

 

Lean Go-to-Market

By empowering field forces with brand recommendation data, manufacturers can now implement a Lean Go-to-Market strategy. Exactly like Lean Manufacturing, Lean Go-to-Market reflects a process of continuous performance improvement and progressive elimination of waste, segregating those who monitor and those who act. This approach boosts field team performance because field reps are liberated from data collection tasks so they can focus 100% on selling and taking remedial action. It also eliminates “waste” as they are empowered with the data needed to prioritise their visits to the least compliant stores and, crucially, know what to do once they get there.

This process offers a much higher ROI on the field force investments, provides more visibility and a stronger presidium of your retail estate as well as a massive improvements of the field productivity, since filed forces are no longer burdened with data collection tasks, instead, they’re empowered with granular insights that can help them prioritize where to go and what to do.

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