We spend an inordinate amount of time defining the competitive set in this industry, only to then ultimately narrow it down to our own peril.
What do I mean?
First, we start by focusing exclusively on prescription products while often ignoring medical procedures, OTC products, medical devices, imaging therapies, etc. Next, we further screen down the competitive set through overly strict adherence to the labeled indication, such mild-to-moderate, refractory, etc. There has to be some recognition here that physicians apply their training beyond just the limits of two well-controlled clinical trials.
Applying these two screens alone gets us down to maybe 3-4 competitors that feel comfortable to us as biopharma marketers because these competitors look like our own product. The problem is that it’s just not based in market reality!
Defining the competitive set is key to developing a compelling and persuasive communication platform. What are you positioning your product against in the mind of the doctor? This is the question that we should be asking to filter the potential competitors – rather than filtering on whether the potential competitor is an actual prescription or within the labeled indication.
What if your brand’s major competition is inertia, rather than a specific brand – how do you account for that? What if your greatest competition is access and reimbursement constraints—would that be covered in your typical thinking?
In order to ensure differentiation against the current competitive set in any given category, you have to start by getting the competitive set right. Don’t lose sight of what might be the most significant nemesis for your brand just because it doesn’t have a product name or a PI.