KEY TAKEAWAY: The anger at pharma companies is not based, for the most part, on facts, but rather is the channeling of consumer/voter anger. Pharma companies banding together to “win over” elected officials ignores patients who, more and more, are consumers of healthcare and making choices based on, what they feel, is best for them.
Pharma marketers should be watching the candidates debate for the upcoming Presidential election as it demonstrates a great lesson in consumer behavior. The more the candidates lie and stretch the truth the more the voters seem to like it clearly indicating that anger without facts is popular in today’s economy.
Despite all the facts on how prescription drugs have saved a lot of people and allowed them to live a better quality of life the media has done a great job as a soapbox for channeling anger. Think about this for a second; if all prescription drugs were free healthcare costs would still rise. Why? Because diabetes is now a worldwide epidemic and the increase in Alzheimer’s is going to strain both personal and national health budgets. However, rather than focus on these issues, it’s far easier to demonize “big pharma”. While I agree that some pharma companies need a dose of reality, most continue down the path of self incrimination with myopic pricing policies.
What does this have to do with DTC marketing? A lot! What I am seeing via ongoing research is that people do not trust DTC advertising. They are fact checking DTC marketer claims and talking to family members and listening via social media about what others are saying around certain drugs. For the most part DTC marketers have continued to ignore this. They still spend money on TV while digital marketing initiatives remain woefully underfunded. Usability studies are seen as a luxury and research, for digital initiatives, is all but non-existent.
Developing a brand to patient, end-to-end, experience requires time, money and listening. The idea of paying an agency to go off and “create a website” clearly is reflective that DTC marketers don’t understand how consumers are using the Internet to make basic healthcare choices.
Consumers are going to continue to articulate anger despite the facts because they are angry and feel that they aren’t being heard. Pharma marketers cannot afford to talk down to patients with dumbed down websites and heavy TV. Will they ever learn?