In the age of enlightened consumers, marketers need to find new ways to enhance their brand’s value in the eyes of their target audience.

 

There is a lot of discussion within the consumer products space about branding in an age of empowered consumers. While it’s nearly impossible to apply a global definition of branding to all products and product categories, one thing appears to be certain: What we, as marketers, think is branding is not necessarily so from a consumer’s point of view. This is becoming more apparent with pharmaceutical brands as well.

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The old and outdated model of pharma DTC marketing relied heavily on TV, but over the years the number of people asking their doctors about advertised pharma brands has declined significantly. Conventional wisdom says that DTC marketers should just communicate product benefits and people will ask for the product, but with prescription drugs people are now looking at a lot more than just benefits.

 

A great example is the stress experienced by most caregivers of loved ones. Research has revealed that caregiver stress appears to affect more women and about 75% of caregivers report feeling very strained emotionally, physically or financially. This represents a great opportunity for pharma brands to reach out to caregivers and help them control their anxiety with information they should know, but very rarely do we see pharma directly address this important audience.

 

Another way to enhance a pharma brand is through a great customer relationship management (CRM) program that both thanks people for using their brand and informs them of new information about health conditions and medications. We have gone from an era of too little information to too much information; however, in research that I have conducted, most eHealth consumers said that they are often too time constrained to stay on top of the health news that concerns them. Again this is an opportunity for a brand to help customers by providing good, credible information where they are and how they want it.

 

Finally, DTC marketers should look at developing online communities to bring people together where they can share information. One in four Internet users living with a chronic ailment (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart conditions, lung conditions or cancer) say that they have gone online to find others with similar health concerns. And one in five adults (21%) say that the last time they had a health issue, they turned to others who had the same condition. So why not bring them together to share their experiences of living with these health conditions. I did it 10 years ago with a drug targeted at women who had premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and it was extremely successful. Pundits will use excuses like “legal and regulatory won’t allow us,” but this is a challenge that we all have to accept.

 

DTC marketing and branding is going through a revolution. The question that we have to ask is do we want to be a part of the revolution or do we just want to wait on the sideline while consumers make healthcare treatment decisions without the benefit of the great information we have at our disposal.

  • Richard Meyer

    Richard Meyer has worked in healthcare marketing for more than 12 years and is the author of www.worldof dtcmarketing.com and www.newmediaand marketing.com. He is the Director of Online Strategic Solutions.

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