Bayer HealthCare - Overcoming the Hurdles to Increase the Utilization Rate of Oral Contraceptives

Wintersemester 2008/2009 

Executive Summary

Bayer Schering Pharma AG (BSP) is the world leader in the field of hormonal contraception and currently promotes three globally successful contraceptive pills: Yasmin, Yaz and Yasminelle. They are responsible for the biggest share of the global contraception market and most important for the company’s Women’s Health Care division.

In order to defend market and technology leadership, BSP heavily invests in R&D. However, the company faces challenges likely to affect return on investments in the future: globally stagnating utilization rates of oral contraceptives and the evolution of generics.

Therefore, the main goal of this project is to make globally applicable strategic recommendations on how to overcome key barriers of oral contraceptive acceptance. Following key barriers with global relevance are identified:

  • Cultural background due to the influence of religion, tradition or society values;

  • Difficult access for BSP to reach customers due to weak infrastructure or distribution channels – as well as for women to get the pill prescribed due to difficult living conditions or long distances to the next doctor and

  • Hormone fear, frequently resulting in pill break or sterilization.

The second step is the research on both successful and unsuccessful market expansion strategies of companies in analog industries, facing similar barriers. Deep-drilling case studies are chosen which share the following relevant characteristics: They illustrate leading companies with the power to develop markets for their highly recognized premium “Western” products to be promoted in regions with different cultural set-up. The lessons learned from these case studies are then transferred to BSP and the oral contraceptive business.

Analog company cases from various industries that are analyzed include: Red Bull’s niche entry strategy in the US market, Ikea’s second market entry in Japan, L’Oréal’s entry into the Chinese mass market, Nike’s focus on guerrilla tactics and on women’s fitness, or Disneyland Hong Kong’s learnings from failures in Paris and Tokyo. These and other cases are analyzed in the same procedure to find analogies to the oral contraception market.

In a third step, the case study-oriented recommendations are synthesized and linked to the key barriers of oral contraception. The recommendations are then strategic rather than operational, in order to allow BSP to translate them to both global and local actions.

The following paragraph will exemplarily present the main strategies for the above-defined key barriers:

  • Cultural Background: For instance, use of female ambassadors to overcome male dominance in the business and to create a female product image; change the corporate culture towards consumer orientation by building up direct relationships to customers and create value by offering lifelong consultancy services.

  • Difficult Access: Offer innovative and convenient customer services to serve the consumer directly; address “educated” customers as early adopters to establish the scientific and secure image and use existing and well-established distribution channels and tie your product to a highly recognized domestic brand.

  • Hormone Fear: Increase the awareness of the existence of low-dosage pills; improve the acceptance of OCs by shifting the focus from the core function to the additional benefits included, e.g. efficient treatment of acne or positive effect on hair and nails.

This four-months-project is completed in January 2009 and will serve as a strategic impulse for Bayer Schering Pharma AG to expand the company’s global leadership and serve new target markets – following the BSP’s vision of being associated with the contraceptive pill.

Cooperation Partner

  • Bayer Schering Pharma AG

Student Team

  • Johannes Gabriel
    Moritz Jäger
    Cherilyn Knaupp
    Marlene Pichler
    Andreas Rock
    Dragana Vidovic