Challenge: In the summer of 2014, one of Canada’s largest innovative biopharmaceutical companies had embarked on an enterprise-wide market research initiative to better understand its external environment – specifically, how the company and its products and employees was seen by key customers and stakeholders. Capturing and collecting the views of physicians was relatively simple. Discovering how public payers and policymakers felt about the company, however, was much more challenging.
The company was especially interested in accomplishing three goals. First, it was looking to establish a qualitative sense of how key government contacts and influencers view the company today – in order to track evolving views over time. Second, the company was interested in better understanding how its own reputation compared or contrasted with the broader industry reputation. Was it an outlier or one of the herd? Finally, the company was looking for insights and advice into how to better articulate and communicate its value proposition.
Santis’ Solution: Santis identified a list of 35 potential interview targets – a diverse mix of current and former political staffers, bureaucrats, and stakeholders from across the health care and innovation sectors. The list included senior drug plan managers, Assistant Deputy Ministers, multiple advisers to various Premiers of Ontario and Ministers of Health and Long-term Care and representatives from intermediary organizations focused on commercializing life sciences innovation.
Over an intensified 3-month period, Santis secured 28 interviews from this set of key contacts. By committing to anonymizing and aggregating the insights it received, Santis was able to gather a uniquely candid assessment of the innovative pharmaceutical sector, and of the company itself – whose identity we only revealed after first determining each contact’s perspective on the broader industry.
Results: These insights formed the basis for a key set of strategic recommendations designed to help the company identify specific measures it could take over the next 3-6 months that would reflect and leverage the newfound clarity it enjoyed around its reputation with a key set of customers.
Santis presented these recommendations to the company’s national External Relations and Market Access team and engaged leaders from across the country in a dynamic discussion that highlighted the important insights we’d gathered, and that identified areas of commonality – and divergence – between how the firm was seen in Ontario and how it was viewed in other key regional markets.
This presentation in turn led the company to dramatically revise and reshape its public sector stakeholder outreach strategy and the core set of communication materials it relies on to differentiate itself with one of its most important constituencies.