Jan 222014
 

I wrote last week about the changing demands on communicators in healthcare. How does this frame up from the perspective of the Asian region?

  • Some of the critical challenges in AsiaPac are the same as anywhere else; an increasing need to determine insights into an ever more specialised and fragmented environment for pharma and healthcare providers
  • To find these insights means understanding increasingly complex networks – compared to the social network mapping of physician insights and physician-patient connectedness happening elsewhere it’s still a bit desk-based and ultimately hierarchical/deferential in Asia
  • In my experience in AsiaPac though there is a determination to achieve the notional ‘integrated’ agency, this is a rare beast. An agency that can communicate cross-disciplinarity in the key areas described above (ie not dominated by a visual creative/overwhelmingly advertising heritage) has a potential space to occupy
  • Agencies, regardless of their networks tend to focus on their heritage business and do not maximise use of either their local cross-discipline networks, nor globally leverage their peer set within discipline
  • Networked agencies have recognised opportunities in the space for more market-shaping science-oriented comms, but they have not historically effectively activated their acquisitions – ‘integrated network’ descriptions tend to be capabilities presentation rhetoric
  • Within pure play medical communications the independents are relatively strong in their niche –leveraging their global intellectual therapy area value to maintain reasonably consistent business in Asia – they are the right size to be firewall-free
  • Boutique independents in med comms survive on project-based business – hard to sustain
  • In advertising, the networks have the lions share of the business, reflecting their heritage
  • Digital is a space competed for ever more vigorously by independents, ad agencies and generalist networked digital agencies
  • The recognition of the value in data insights and examples relating to health is starting to come to the fore, as per the example here http://www.dextra.sg/ in Singapore
  • For an agency to position itself successfully in Asia it needs to disrupt both the networked and specialty agency categories – in a sense create turbulence, the ripples of which speak to the new entrant’s energy more than its size
  • How capability to deliver is established is critical – it tends to mean a core of implementers on the ground combined with transferable global strategic insight. Developing a network of partners as the business grows is important
  • Must be able to demonstrate genuine and tangible integration of its components – larger independents are probably in the sweet spot. Sitting within the the walls of an acquisitive network is increasingly showing stymied growth
Independent firms, meanwhile, continue to outperform the holding companies in terms of growth, with Edelman only the most prominent example. Overall, independent firms submitting information to the Holmes Report 250 experienced growth of better than 12%, compared to average growth of around 4% for the public relations operations of the major holding companies. – See more at: http://worldreport.holmesreport.com/top-10#sthash.r4KFtmFX.dpufPharma spend is often – and perhaps increasingly – determined by globally-led strategy; without effective joined-up global-Asia engagement, opportunities will be smallerAgency-side cross-discipline talent in healthcare is not widesprea

“Independent firms, meanwhile, continue to outperform the holding companies in terms of growth, with Edelman only the most prominent example. Overall, independent firms submitting information to the Holmes Report 250 experienced growth of better than 12%, compared to average growth of around 4% for the public relations operations of the major holding companies.”

  • Pharma spend is often – and perhaps increasingly – determined by globally-led strategy; without effective joined-up global-Asia engagement, opportunities will be smaller, perhaps unsustainable
  • Agency-side cross-discipline talent in healthcare is not widespread