Allergan China: Straddling Pharma, Medtech, Cosmetics & Digital


Within the industry, Allergan already stands out for the interesting composition of its portfolio. For China President White Wang, this was precisely the attraction. He enthuses, “Allergan is truly a very unique company. It is at once a pharma company, a medical device company, a cosmetics/aesthetics company and a digital company – I think there is no other company in the industry sitting at the convergence of all these areas, like Allergan is, leveraging so many business models and talents. As a result, Allergan is a fast-moving, bold and innovative company that dares to make hard decisions.”


Allergan is truly a very unique company. It is at once a pharma company, a medical device company, a cosmetics/aesthetics company and a digital company

White Wang, Allergan China


For a company that still makes a majority of its global revenues from the US, the China market could so easily be overlooked but Allergan has decided to invest strategically in the market. Wang lists the three fundamental roles of the China market: “firstly, we are a significant growth driver – perhaps the most important growth driver – for our International business. Secondly, we also represent a very important talent pool. Our International Business (sales outside of the US) is still seen as an emerging business so talent is in great demand, and Allergan China contributes a lot of talent and resources to support our regional and international teams. Thirdly, we are also an innovation hub with flagship initiatives like the Allergan Innovation Center, the Customer Experience Center and our digital health platform with Alibaba – all of which are first for Allergan globally.”


Some of the most exciting potential the China market represents for Allergan is on the digital front. Wang underscores, “the digital industry in China is extremely strong and has already reshaped many industries, including highly conservative industries like finance. However, tech companies have not seen that much success when it comes to working in the healthcare space due to a few fundamental barriers. Healthcare is a very serious, individualized industry while the Internet business relies more on standardized delivery to achieve widespread penetration. Quality is also far more critical to the healthcare industry compared to other industries.” For Allergan, digital represents a great opportunity to expand their customer pool, with Wang explaining, “the challenge here is how to identify and reach out to consumers – because everyone could be a potential consumer, unlike in traditional pharma, where ‘consumers’ self-identify by going to see a doctor. Through digital channels, we can reach and target potential consumers much more efficiently and effectively.


A diversified company model requires an equally diversified talent strategy, and Wang has it covered as well. He shares, “When I build teams, I like to choose different profiles and include a mix of people with first-line sales experience; strong business credentials like MBAs; degrees from top schools; top consultancies like McKinsey; and functional expertise. A team with similar people can go faster but a team with diverse talents will go further.”

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