Today’s marketers are increasingly experiencing a side effect resulting from a decision made roughly ten years ago by most biotechnology and big pharmaceutical companies. This decision was to commit to an exclusive focus on a limited number of disease targets. The side effect is what the Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, called The Innovator’s Dilemma.
Quite simply the core principle of his work maintains that people or companies who invent a new product are usually the last ones to see (or promote) the next innovation. Think of Sony and the Walkman franchise versus Apple with the i-Pod. Sony was unwilling to call their baby ugly and missed out on the next advance in a category they invented.
As many pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies work to build or expand significant franchises in diverse disease states – Biogen Idec in multiple sclerosis, Genentech in Breast Cancer, Novartis in CML, and Shire in ADHD, the challenge they all face is successfully introducing new innovations while navigating how to appropriately position the ‘old’ inventions.
The brand manager entrusted with launching the next great advance within the franchise often doesn’t have a clean slate to operate within to define the follow-up brand’s unique positioning, launch strategies, and customer portraits. Frequently, considerations for the existing brand delivering today’s revenue often serve to stunt the potential opportunities for tomorrow’s new product. This is the personification of ‘the innovator’s dilemma.’
Without a disciplined process to serve the franchise interests along with the ‘daughter’ brands, the optimization is left in the hands of the field force that must explain to the prescriber how to employ the multiple brands. No brand (or sales organization for that matter) is best served by letting the field force address its positioning in the minds of prescribers.
How are you addressing the Innovator’s Dilemma ‘side effect’ in your organization? We’ve uncovered a few approaches that help teams with franchise challenges focus on the today while optimizing for tomorrow.