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Eli Lilly's depression treatment Cymbalta encountered various obstacles on its 13-year journey through a regulatory review process that culminated with the drug's approval in 2004. Faced with a small window of exclusivity, Lilly used the approval delays to sharpen its marketing plan to reflect deep customer insights. Using these insights, Lilly created a strategic plan - for not only Cymbalta's market entry but also its initial years on the market - that revolved around multiple tactics that helped differentiate it in a crowded marketplace.
These tactics included establishing a clearly defined target patient population, differentiating on pain relief while touting comparable efficacy, following a lifecycle plan that included multiple indications that increased reach, expanding selling power through a contract sales force, and using DTC advertising and online tools to increase patient and physician awareness. These tactics and others helped Cymbalta quickly break into a crowded antidepressant market and hit blockbuster status in its second year and $4.2 billion in sales by 2011 - eight years after launch.
Using secondary research and interviews with a Cymbalta product team director, Best Practices, LLC created this case study to highlight how using market research to develop customer insights can dramatically affect a product's marketplace performance. Executives can use this study to understand Lilly's approach to using customer insights to help a product that's entering a crowded market.
Insights were drawn from extensive secondary research and an interview with a Cymbalta Product Team Director.