early reflections

The intention is that these blogs will cover a variety of topics, mainly (but not all) linking in to the work we do at Clarityse. Some will simply be personal musings and views on broader stuff.

I guess it makes sense that the first one serves as a introduction to Clarityse, to provide a better sense of what we’re all about. I recently took a year out, travelling around the world with my wife and 3 young children (they were 9, 7 & 4 when we left) – it was an amazing, intense experience that I wouldn’t swap for anything - if you’re interested, you can read about that at www.fivegoroundtheworld.co.uk. (I also intend to use as many photos as possible from that trip in these blogs). On our return, I set about rebuilding my consultancy business, but felt I needed a new company brand, with a clear positioning and the scope to encompass an associate network, including specialist partners, as required.

One of the challenges with setting up a consultancy is knowing how you’re going to position yourself. You need to be sufficiently focused, but you also know that your experience is broad, so you can tackle a wide range of projects & challenges. So where did that introspection lead to with Clarityse?

From a business sector point of view, we’re into self-care. But what does that mean, exactly? The WHO defines self-care very broadly as follows:

Self-care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, prevent and deal with illness.

It is a broad concept encompassing:

  • hygiene (general and personal);
  • nutrition (type and quality of food eaten);
  • lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc.);
  • environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.);
  • socioeconomic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.);
  • self-medication.

Personally, I’d re-phrase the first sentence to say:

“Self-care encompasses the choices and behaviour changes people make to manage their own and their family’s health and wellbeing“.

In terms of the sweetspot for Clarityse, it’s around self-medication, personal hygiene and lifestyle. This would include, for example, OTC medicines and devices (and associated behaviour changes), patient-centred prescription medicines, oral care and e-cigarettes / vaping devices. (The latter is a controversial subject that I will certainly be blogging about in future but is a good example - for virtually all users it involves a product choice and a conscious change in behaviour to improve one’s health).

Geographically, the focus will be primarily on projects with a European or Global scope. I’ve spent most of my career in above country roles, with a particular focus on Europe (but I obviously also know the UK well, too!). 

Functionally, we’ll be focusing on strategic marketing, including new product launches, brand re-launches / turnarounds, branding challenges, etc. But this is all within the context of a deep understanding of the regulatory constraints across Europe, both prescription and OTC. In addition to having worked on both prescription and OTC / consumer brands, I have lots of experience of Rx to OTC switches, including navigating the EMA central regulatory process with alli (another subject I’ll definitely be blogging about in future!)  Switching in Europe is a very different concept to switching in the US – in fact for the Mutual Recognition process in Europe, “switch” is a complete misnomer! Again, this is probably the subject of another blog, but things like market size, availability of DTC advertising for Rx brands (and therefore existing consumer brand equity), naming regulations, distribution, IP protection, advertising rules for OTC, etc. make the context entirely different. 

[In addition to marketing, we also have partners who are expert in Business Development, with great software that facilitates market data analysis and visualization for both Bus Dev and strategic marketing planning. I also have significant experience in Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility, plus corporate branding in the charity sector.]

In terms of our philosophy and approach to projects, I have a few key beliefs that come from having worked on both the client and consultancy side of the fence:

  • Creative and workable solutions come from collaboration and partnership

It sounds simple, but getting objectives clear and a shared view of what success looks like at the outset, is critical. And working with the team rather than in isolation gets better solutions and all-important ownership & buy-in.

  • Proposals must be actionable

I’ve seen more proposals that look good on paper but are simply not workable in practice than I care to remember! It’s quite often due to a lack of experience and understanding of the regulatory environment, but it could simply be a lack of understanding of internal constraints, eg resources or political.  Years of client-side experience leads to a broader understanding of what will and will not work – which we think is valuable!

  • Use existing data first

Many companies have more valuable data than they’re aware of, especially for existing brands. While market dynamics and performance obviously change month by month, consumer and customer insights tend not to.  We always try to mine existing data first, before recommending commissioning new research.

  • Tap into specific expertise as required

The beauty of an associate consultancy model is that we can tap into specific expertise as required. For example, we can partner with marketing consultants with client-side experience in most European countries. Equally, we have partners in market research and in data analysis / Business Development.

  • Bespoke is best

While certain concepts and tools are very versatile and frequently useful, every project is different. We believe it’s much better to create a bespoke process and methodology for each project, rather than simply adopt a turnkey / modular approach.

And finally… why Clarityse? Well, when checking potential names, almost everyone I asked saw ‘clarity’; many saw ‘analyse’ and appreciated the fact that it sounds like a verb and so is active rather than passive. That’ll do for me - I hope you agree!

I’d love to hear your feedback on all of the above and the rest of the site. Please either comment on this blog, or drop me an email (mark@clarityse.com) – I’d love to hear from you.