Net practice for healing: Netmeds unveils brand campaign with MS Dhoni

In a market dominated by brick-and-mortar stores, making your way into the online world can either prove to be a misstep or help chart a new trajectory. With the aim to reach the multitude that depends on the local drugs stores for their medicines, Netmeds launched its online platform in 2015 hoping to become “India ki pharmacy”.

For a country that now prefers to just tap on the phone and order almost anything online, a pharmacy store which was one click away came as a relief with most medicines available at the tap of a button and at good discounts. That the app was noted, and was able to hit the right chord was evident from the two million downloads that it received from the day it was launched.

At the time when Netmeds entered the online pharma market, the retail pharma market share stood at $15 billion. In 2017, the market grew at 5.5 per cent. In March 2018, it was at 9.5 per cent with a year-on-year sales of Rs 100.29 billion, as per the Indian Brand Equity Foundation report. By 2020, India is likely to be among the top three pharmaceutical markets by incremental growth and sixth largest market globally in absolute size.

With the aim to cement consumer trust, Netmeds has roped in former Indian cricket captain M S Dhoni as brand ambassador. Even in the twilight of his career, Dhoni’s brand equity remains high. Also, post a successful run — rather a winning streak at the recently concluded IPL season where he also displayed raging form with brute hitting for Chennai Super Kings — there couldn’t have been perhaps a better choice than him to lead the idea of a “game changing” product.

“The fact that there was a positive response from people after we launched made us believe in adding value to the trusted relationship. Thus, it was important we chose someone with whom people would connect instantly and who better than MSD to fit that slot?,” says Pradeep Dadha, founder and CEO, Netmeds.com.

Going forward from their previous campaign, where it established itself as “India ki pharmacy”, the new campaign establishes the brand’s USP as the most reliable player in the online pharma space. The campaign very aptly captures the environment that exists in a boardroom meeting while selecting a team. As the executive chairing the meeting asks for recommendations for a “game-changer”, Dhoni is seen explaining how Netmeds could be a game-changer in the Indian pharma market. The campaign director Aatish Dabral of Snowball Productions feels he has never seen any celebrity being so “easily adjustable to the demands of the script”. “The idea was to show to the world that two game-changers in their respective fields (cricket and pharma) have collaborated for something big,” he adds.

“A country that’s battling an annual rise in chronic diseases, and faces shortage of doctors and limited access to medicine in tier three and four cities and towns, there needed to be a game-changer. That’s how we see our role and the public is telling us they agree,” says Dadha adding that since its launch in 2015, Netmeds has been able to retain 70 per cent of its customer base which in his perspective has been a good feedback on the product overall.

Dadha puts the online pharmaceutical industry at 1 per cent of the overall market. “We are looking at a long-term market here. Establishing the customer base is the first challenge. Then we will target long-term medicine users such as diabetics, blood pressure patients etc who need medicine on a regular basis,” says Dadha.