The International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) wanted to tap the dramatic trend in the global pharmaceutical industry’s migration of more and more operations to India and China. This included traditional manufacturing members as well as R&D which was seen as a new target of opportunity, especially in the Generics sector of the industry that is strong in China. In short, being in China was seen as a way to diversify the geographic membership portfolio in some very strong markets.
Initially, ISPE sought to grow membership in China from its global headquarters by fostering relationships with key Chinese government agencies, providing support to local members and volunteer leaders, and building ISPE brand value awareness in China. However, they encountered some challenges:
- Initial efforts to build relationships with key government partners slowed due to communication and cultural differences
- Participation of volunteer leaders was not active enough because they didn’t have proper local functional support
- Educational events and networking opportunities were not well organized or opportunities exploited
The key to overcoming these challenges was having local resources to provide scale to penetrate and then manage relationships and services using a professional local presence.
ISPE opened its Office through MCI Shanghai to provide locally relevant business service support for local members and prospects, invigorate partner opportunities, and manage critical administrative duties:
- Establish close and good relationship with stakeholders in China: the government, corporations and universities.
- Develop new training courses tailored to Chinese market
- Provide local volunteer leader support
- Revitalize the ISPE Chinese version website
- Translate all the collateral and produce a website in Chinese
- Manage ISPE’s pavilion at the China Pharm 2008
- Manage the ISPE China Conference 2008 held in collaboration with China Center for Pharmaceutical International Exchange (CCPIE) an arm of State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) in November 2008.
- Manage the audience generation through marketing and promotion activities, registration, logistics, speakers, sponsorship and on-site support
- Provide marketing including e-blasts distribution and posting conference information on industry publications
Within 3 months of ISPE China Office’s marketing efforts membership increased by 12.7%, the prospect database grew by 36%, and 85% of e-marketing recipients were reading ISPE conference information. Conference sponsorship reached 58% of targeted goals after only one month of promotion. Top officers from SFDA (China’s State Food and Drug Administration) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) were reengaged and agreed to give speeches at the ISPE China Annual Conference in 2008. And CCPIE agreed to send its first Chinese delegation to the ISPE Annual Meeting.
At the end of the first year, ISPE realized: a successful annual conference in Beijing developed with the China Center of Pharmaceutical International Exchange (CCPIE), Chinese membership grew from 124 to 407 members, the first student chapter in Sichuan University was formed with more than 100 students members, translation of marketing collateral, an ISPE China website, and a monthly e-newsletter.
To continue this success, ISPE China Office will concentrate on continuing to build a strong local presence to raise local brand awareness, provide strong and timely support to ISPE’s growing volunteer leader network, and continue to provide relevant products and services tailor-made for the Chinese market.