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  • Sheryl Heinle

Differentiate your brand with a Blue Ocean approach

Blue Ocean Strategy for pharma and biotech

The pharmaceutical marketplace is ever evolving, challenging brand and market access teams to disrupt conventional approaches to how they reach and care for patients. A new line of thinking, Blue Ocean Strategy*, has made a splash in our industry and is quickly changing the way successful pharma and biotech organizations approach their launch and patient access strategies.

Blue Ocean Strategy suggests that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans” of uncontested market space ripe for growth. In forming a different mindset that is focused on creating opportunity versus trying to beat the competition, value is inevitably delivered to the customer or potential customer.

An example of effective Blue Ocean thinking outside our industry is Cirque du Soleil. They took advantage of a declining circus industry in the 1980’s by creating a new form of entertainment that appealed to an upscale adult audience that had abandoned the traditional circus. The same approach can be applied to the pharmaceutical industry with similar results.

How pharma is using Blue Ocean thinking to differentiate

The restructuring of the U.S. healthcare delivery system, the regulatory environment, and the competitive landscape of reducing costs are challenging the pharmaceutical marketplace. Differentiation is vital to success, and Blue Ocean thinking can help.

When we advise clients on a Blue Ocean approach, we begin by eliminating the habit of separating strategy from execution. Blue Ocean thinking builds execution into strategy from the start.

We also apply the analytical tools outlined by Blue Ocean Strategy through a pharmaceutical-industry lens. When clients work through the four steps below, we see a shift in focus from the competition to the customer.

4 steps to create a new value curve

1. RAISE: Question which factors must be raised within an industry in terms of product, pricing, or service standards. How are the unique needs of your patients being addressed through your service offering?

2. ELIMINATE: Question which areas could be completely eliminated to reduce costs and to create an entirely new experience for the customer or to create a new service or market. Perhaps you’ve been offering patient transportation when home nursing visits are a better fit for your patient population.

3. REDUCE: Question which product or service is not entirely necessary but plays a significant role (it can be reduced but not necessarily eliminated.) Different generations often have different preferences for training – perhaps your geriatric patients benefit most from nurse education while your pediatric patients would prefer a video.

4. CREATE: Create a new service or product offering through differentiation from the competition. Could your method of delivery be better than what your competition offers? How about your onboarding schedule and outreach?

Whether you’re trying to create a value curve for a new product launch or give an existing brand a boost in the marketplace, Blue Ocean thinking may help. We’ve seen this approach effectively guide business models that support the voice of the customer, speed to treatment, quality of service, and strategic course corrections at low cost.

We're already seeing Blue Ocean strategy create new opportunities in our industry, as evidenced in this case study. When you’re ready to explore Blue Ocean thinking with your brand, contact us.

*Blue Ocean Strategy was first termed by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, professors at INSEAD and co-directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute, and authored Blue Ocean Strategy.

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