From small town pharmacy to a multinational corporation: Pierre Fabre, culture as a competitive advantage
The case deals with the development of a pharmaceutical and dermo-cosmetics company owned and controlled by its founder, Pierre Fabre. The company (Pierre Fabre Laboratories) has made extensive use of its culture to build competitive advantage. The company history pervades its strategic choices (selective distribution through pharmacists, manufacturing and R&D localisation), its choice of product development path (natural substances), organisational capabilities building (innovation) and management style (‘humanistic’). The company’s name is not well known to the general public except in the south west of France. However, its brands (Avène, Galénic, Klorane), and products (Elancyl, Navelbine) are known among pharmacists, dermatologists and oncologists in many countries. The company has deliberately marketed its products for the last 50 years by cultivating prescribers and using selective channels resulting in an image of science-based and seriousness.
Q1. What are the distinctive elements of Pierre Fabre group corporate culture? How do these participate in building a sustainable competitive advantage?
The first point to focus on is the role of Mr. Pierre Fabre as an entrepreneur and leader. The man has successfully created a pharmaceutical multinational company starting from a small provincial town pharmacy. Pierre Fabre is an eponymous company bearing the name of its founder and current president. This gives employees a meaningful sense of “working for someone” reinforcing the sentiment of belonging to the organisation. * It is more a pharmacist company than a pharmaceutical one. It follows the ethics of that profession: seriousness, science-based research and a duty to care for the health of the customers. These values apply also to products such as family medication and cosmetics, which are developed, produced...