17 Oct 2016 13:43 IST

Understanding the healthcare industry

Advertising for healthcare is about educating the customer

Recently, around 30 students of Indian School of Business (ISB) visited Johnson & Johnson Medical (J&J) for an induction session. It was organised by Richa Sharma, Sr Specialist -Talent Acquisition, along with the marketing and healthcare clubs.

For some students, it was an eye opener to the world of healthcare; for others it was a sneak-peak into the world of sales and marketing in a healthcare firm. But largely, it was an opportunity to get to know the huge impact J&J has on the lives of billions of people.

This visit will help us in the future, to make decisions in marketing, if we choose to go down that path. It was important for us to understanding that the Indian consumer is value seeker and not price conscious. This thought-provoking insight will make us challenge our work as future business leaders. It also made us realise the importance of consumer research and the consumers themselves, who are the major drivers of innovation and new product entrants. Market research in today’s world is data rich but poor in terms of insight. Hence, marketing requires managers who can build on that.

Understanding the importance of the sales and distribution model in a franchise specific sales team versus the industry norm of having sales people for the entire gamut of products to converse with the influencers was another point we learnt.

Our questions regarding the difference between sales and marketing, and their challenges were answered. This gave us a lot of clarity about variations in marketing strategies at healthcare firms. One of the biggest take-away was that advertising in this space is more about educating the customers on the problems faced, the potential issues that might come up and the available cures/ treatments; it is not just about selling but providing a complete solution. Market research, observations, clinical inputs, product customisation (for a country), counselling patients and using the influence of doctors is a lot more important in today’s times.

We also learnt about J&J’s ‘Our Credo’; the importance of having strong core values. Another aspect to our sessions was getting to know J&J’s culture — the job training programmes, the roles and responsibilities, work-life balance, internal mobility and the openness to innovation.

Overall, it was a great learning opportunity for all of us at ISB and it gave us a deeper view of the healthcare industry and the prowess of Johnson & Johnson.