How to Capitalize on the Top 3 Factors Behind a Successful Product Launch

How to Capitalize on the Top 3 Factors Behind a Successful Product Launch

Learn how tapping into fast, targeted physician insights can get your next drug off to a healthy start.


In the pharmaceutical industry, it’s a well-known adage that when launching a new drug, the first six months of sales often dictate performance across the entire product lifecycle.

According to a study by Deloitte, 70% of pharma products that fall short of sales targets at launch will continue doing so in subsequent years. The same is true for drugs that meet or beat expectations – with 80% continuing to do so afterward.

Consider the rising costs of development and threats from increased competition, and the stakes of a successful product launch have never been higher. Long-term company performance (not to mention the entire careers of commercial team leaders) is riding on launch performance metrics.

Here’s the good news: While you may not be able to control every element of your next drug launch, there is a simple way to mitigate the risk of poor performance – by tapping into valuable physician insights with KeyOps.

In this post, we’ll examine the top three factors that contribute to a successful pharma product launch. Then, we’ll share how timely, targeted physician market research can become a valuable “safety net” for sales and marketing leaders aiming for a drug’s commercial success – before, during, and after launch.

3 Critical Success Factors to a Successful Product Launch

To plan for a successful drug launch, it helps to first understand the factors that are critical to commercial success. According to Deloitte, here are the top three reasons why new drugs can fail to meet initial sales expectations:

  • Market access. Half of all products that missed their first-year sales targets had issues with market access.
  • Understanding of market needs. For 46% of product launches, a lack of understanding the needs of both patients and physicians contributed to poor performance.
  • Clear product differentiation. Nearly half (44%) of the drugs surveyed also suffered from a lack of clear, compelling positioning

What do all three of these pharma product launch risks have in common? They could have been avoided with timely, targeted physician insights.

Planning for Success Pre-Launch

The best way to ensure a strong product launch right out of the gate is through disciplined, strategic planning in the pre-launch phase.

In the 12+ months before going to market, commercial teams are hard at work crafting drug positioning and key messages, while also building a tactical sales plan. And while sales and marketing leaders do their best to ground this work in market research, let’s be honest: There’s still a fair amount of guesswork involved.

At this stage, many of your team’s assumptions are hypothetical. That’s why it’s critical to test those assumptions by getting real-time feedback from physicians that will actually be part of your target market.

With KeyOps’ short, on-demand physician surveys, you can test and validate virtually every element of your strategy. Then, armed with new insights, commercial teams can fine-tune their commercialization planning – effectively de-risking the launch budget by investing in proven tactics.

This approach is especially important if you’re marketing a drug to a new therapeutic area or disease state. For KeyOps’ pharma clients, we often serve as the bridge between drug companies and the new physicians they’re targeting. Tapping into our extensive physician network can help with everything from omni-channel testing to quantifying the size and needs of a market.

Bridging the Post-Launch Data Gap

Despite extensive upfront planning, the post-launch phase can also be fraught with uncertainty. From stock issues to changes in the competitive landscape, you can almost guarantee there will be some type of unforeseen complications.

Weekly prescription updates can help you see how sales are trending. But they fail to answer the ever-pressing “why” behind your sales challenges. In these types of situations, time is of the essence. You need immediate insights to help adapt plans and pivot strategies in light of the unexpected.

By using KeyOps, life science commercial teams can gather targeted physician insights in a week or less. As a result, you can refine your messaging, identify emerging issues, and quickly course correct during this crucial launch window.

In an environment with little margin for error, having readily-accessible physician insights can help remove uncertainties around uptake and performance. For pharma leaders, that translates to confident, informed decision making that can maximize commercial potential across the pharma product life cycle.

Plan for a Successful Product Launch with KeyOps

With so much riding on the early success of your product, there’s simply no room for mistakes. To learn how KeyOps’ on-demand pharmaceutical market research can help you ensure a successful product launch, request a demo today.

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