Tuesday 12 June 2012

Pharmaceutical Marketing-Pharma Marketing-Medication

The Fundamental DTC Question: Why Do People Do What They Do?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the psychology behind why people behave the way they do when it comes to healthcare, and how that intersects with what pharmaceutical marketers are trying to achieve.
Rich Meyer wrote a blog recently titled It’s not your imagination; marketing really has gotten harder. He has some good points about the social shift, how customer expectations have changed and how the drug industry is (or isn't) evolving with the times.
Pharma Marketing Has Always Had It's Challenges
The idea that "marketing has gotten harder" is an interesting one to me. And I would go further to say that effective pharmaceutical marketing has always been harder. (Here's a blog I wrote on the topic of What's So Different About Consumer Pharma Marketing? Let Me Count the Ways ...)
But the difficulty of pharma marketing goes beyond the tough regulations we face every day. To me, it goes deeper into the psychology of healthcare. One would think one's HEALTH would be the ultimate motivator to take action. Get a diagnosis, get a prescription, be compliant with that medication, and hopefully things will be better, right?
But the challenge is, pharmas are faced with marketing products that patients DON'T WANT TO HAVE TO USE. Being put on a long-term treatment for high cholesterol or diabetes is considered by many to be a failure. Getting a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis and then having to give yourself a self-injection isn't good news. It's devastating. People don't think "oh goodie I get to pop this little pill every morning" or "Yay, I get to take this injection every week." They tie the disease to the drug. Very few people ever think "thank goodness the pharma company spent years in research and millions of dollars to develop this product that helps me live my life better every day." (One exception may be cosmetics. Perhaps because those treatments are elective?)
And depending on the disease category, sometimes the goal is to work to get OFF the medication. If your doctor told you that you should have a goal to quit using Tide detergent, would you think favorably of Tide?
Admit it - even those of us in the industry can be resistant to getting on treatment for whatever ails us, and we often don't follow our prescribed regimen (I know I don't).
Why Don't We Look at Medications Like We Do Consumer Packaged Goods?
There's a lot wrapped up into the answer to that question. And amazingly, in 15+ years of pharma marketing, I've never seen good research that gets to the root of it. To complicate matters, it's different for every disease category, and every person within those disease categories.
Recently I met with a health psychologist (follow her on Twitter at @drhealthpsych) to learn more about her discipline. Her job is to integrate the science of behavior change with marketing intelligence. She's looking to help companies increase brand retention, create brand advocates, and strengthen loyalty among patients, caregivers, and providers ... all while promoting positive health outcomes. In her words, "You win. Patients win."
To me, it's fascinating.
As an industry, we need to work harder to better understand the motivators behind patient behavior. Why are they resistant to committing to a medication proven to help improve symptoms? Why won't they go to the doctor, why won't they fill the prescription, why won't they take the med that will enhance quality of life, and may even save their life or, at least, add years to it?  Why don't they take their medication as prescribed?
As an industry, we need to work towards a better understanding of patients (i.e. people), their needs and wants, and their motivators.
Not to be better able to "sell" them something.
But to improve health outcomes overall. read more..

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