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Monday, December 24, 2012

As Life Sciences Firms Target Emerging Markets, Language Translation Becomes More Critical

The life sciences industry is undergoing massive change due to a dramatic demographic shift in the age-profile of populations, a changing landscape of disease, new technologies and health care cost inflation.1 As a result, many life sciences firms are facing slow organic growth in their traditional markets.

Coming out of the recession, leading companies are positioning themselves to gain market share in the emerging markets. In fact, in a Deloitte survey of nearly 200 pharmaceutical executives, over half of the respondents said that emerging markets will contribute over a quarter of their firm’s revenues within three years.2 Factors such as growing economies, large populations, rising personal income levels and progressive political policies in emerging global “clusters” are encouraging growth and direct investment from industry leaders. According to research done by Jones Lang LaSalle, “Clusters within the U.S. and Europe remain destinations of choice for core aspects of drug discovery. Emerging global clusters, however, offer cost-advantageous manufacturing sites that provide both revenue and margin opportunities.”3

Top Emerging Markets for Life Sciences Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Asia is a major focus of FDI, with China, Singapore and India leading the way. According to Jones Lang LaSalle, China received $29.8 billion in drug and pharmaceutical FDI between 2007 and 2011, second only to the United States. Over half of Deloitte’s survey respondents voted China as the top country in terms of expected importance for their companies in the coming three years, citing a healthy growing economy, low costs and an expanding population as key reasons. The popularity of smoking in China has also led to greater interest, as epidemiologists predict two million new cases of cancer caused by smoking each year in China by the year 2025.

Singapore is another major recipient of FDI in drugs and pharmaceuticals, receiving some $17.7 billion between 2007 and 2010. India ranks third in terms of inward direct investment in Asia, receiving $12 billion during the same period. The scale and breadth of investment in these countries over the last decade suggests that companies are viewing them as both revenue and margin opportunities, as well as for manufacturing and R&D activities.

In other regions, Canada is emerging as an important location for R&D activity, while Brazil is becoming a manufacturing center. Central Europe was selected in the Deloitte survey as the second most attractive market due to low-cost manufacturing and a stable economy.

A Well-Developed Multilingual Communications Strategy is Critical to Success

To succeed in these markets, life sciences companies will need new sales and marketing strategies, localized to each culture. Deloitte’s survey respondents outlined a number of new plans to be deployed between now and 2015 to achieve their goals, but perhaps the most important is to focus sales and marketing activities on the end-users, in effect “getting closer to the customer.”

Doing business in emerging markets will require additional translation and localization for product advertising, usage guidelines, product development materials, etc. Translation will play a key role. The most successful firms will be those who quickly and efficiently produce high-quality localized and translated materials. One best practice is to work with a language services provider who has proven experience in the areas of globalization, life sciences translation, pharmaceutical translation, medical device and diagnostics translation, and technology translations.


1“The Future of the Life Sciences Industries: Strategies for Success in 2015,” Deloitte Touche Tomatsu and the Economist Intelligence Unit, 2006.
2Deloitte Touche Tomatsu and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
3“Life Sciences Cluster Report: Global.2011,” Jones Lange LaSalle IP, Inc., 2011.

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