At the conference I was challenged by a delegate who disagreed with me that the mobile (the cannibal of cannibals) would radically transform every part of the pharma industry (every bit as much as it’s already transformed the calculator, music, video and computer markets). In reply I shared a conversation I had recently with the owner of a chain of high street Pharmacy stores who also felt that “pharma was different” and that “this’ll never happen”. As an exercise I tried to show him the impact that mobile phones have already had on his business in the last (Nokia) decade.
Back in 2000 it’s worth reminding ourselves that before the public went on holiday or to a special occasion (a wedding, party etc) they’d pop into the high street pharmacy store to pick up some film for their camera, after which they’d drop it in and then make another trip to pick it up (when you’d get one last chance to pick something else off the shelves). Of course the analysts blame the loss of footfall and revenues on the growth and increased competition from supermarkets with their everyday low prices on things like sun cream, moisturisers, etc but the sneaky little camera phone has managed to completely duck the blame that it should take for the huge drop in footfall in these high street outlets. At first my friend told me this was prepostosteous and that “there is no way rubbish little cameraphones could’ve had this effect?!” until the penny dropped when I showed him some then and now pictures I had of his store fronts (which ten years ago were paid for by a photographic film brand and today don’t even mention photo development services).
There is no doubt that the pharmaceutical retail landscape in the UK and Ireland has already been transformed by mobile (as a result of the move to digital photography that took off because of the convergence of cameras and mobile phones).
Of course this has had nothing to do with the collapse of 131 year established Kodak but if you’re struggling to see the bellweather for the change in the pharma marketing industry (which is now bigger than the Drug R&D industry) check out how Sanofi Aventis are developing smartphone accessories or Merck are chasing Weightwatchers and WeightWatchers are chasing mobile…