What to Focus on During the Launch Phase

Zebra is regularly asked about what type of research and intelligence should be explored at different stages of the drug development cycle. We have therefore created a series of posts that look to provide some answers, including those pertaining to the launch phase. The posts in this series will follow the different phases of the drug development process. Therefore, we have created an image showing the key commercial activities throughout the drug development pathway. Please click here to download the graphic that follows along with these posts.

Activities to Complete During the Launch Phase

The aim during the launch phase is to confirm the optimal positioning and branding platform as well as assessing the likelihood to prescribe, product uptake and circumstances of use.

To accomplish this, ask questions like:

  • What are the general reactions, appeal, preference, and clarity of the brand? 
  • What are the likely circumstances of use?
  • Checking the messages for launch and confirmation of key arguments 
  • Does brand awareness exist prior to launch? If so, what does it look like?
  • What global product constants are there for post-launch tracking? 
  • What is the current competitive position? Do we need to implement anything to overcome competitor resistance?

At this stage, you need to refine many elements of previous research, including the segmentation and refinement of communication messages. Furthermore, it is essential to agree on the benchmarks to monitor for launch and post launch in order to gauge the level of success.

The need for research (whether primary or secondary) never stops because, at this stage, life cycle assessment and review continues. Analysts need to be anticipating changes in the competitor and market environment in order to defend and extend the brand franchise.

There is also a requirement to reinforce brand image and heritage to ensure continued customer loyalty and use. Analysts may want to seek new opportunities in:

  • New indications
  • Line extensions
  • Formulations
  • New geographical markets

Lifecycle Management and Maintaining the Brand

As products launch, the aim is to anticipate changes in the competitor/market environment in order to defend and extend the brand franchise. Analysts should focus on strategies to:

  • Reinforce brand image and heritage
  • Maintain customer loyalty
  • Extend use, including what would be required by the company to extend the brand

Monitoring sales lines and market trends are all important to ensure maintenance, but customer insight is also important to understand why there is a particular positive or negative trend. Each will provide information on how to manage customers and either reverse a negative trend or learn why a product is selling with some customers and not others. Reviewing sales approaches such as feedback from representatives, online remote detailing and indirectly by medical liaison managers will also ensure an upward trend.

Companies may also want to consider if real-world evidence and studies work with their product; this is particularly valuable when looking at post-launch monitoring and providing additional evidence of clinical outcomes. Dash-Global has created an integrated digital healthcare platform that not only supports observational work, but links in with healthcare professionals.

Zebra supports by providing patient and healthcare professional insights regarding the data that is collected. Please contact us if you want to understand more about how this can maximise sales for your brands.


We hope you enjoyed this series on the drug development cycle.

Our next series of posts will focus on competitive intelligence. However, if there is any topic that you would like to learn about, please feel free to reach out with suggestions. With over 50 years of combined experience in intelligence and market research for pharmaceutical products, we should know the answer!

If you would like more company-specific ideas of how to conduct this work, please feel free to reach out to us.

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