Is it time to rethink DTC marketing?

newideapharmaPOST SUMMARY: DTC marketing has not really kept pace with changing consumer needs and wants.  While pharma is under increasing pressure to show ROI perhaps not everything we do has to have a hard ROI but rather meet patient needs.

Has DTC marketing really changed that much since it was approved by the FDA?  Overall you could probably say it’s evolved a little but it hasn’t kept pace with the changes in the consumer environment.


What we are starting to see in CPG is that consumers just don’t have the time to interact with brands unless those brands provide real value.  The fundamental objective of DTC marketing has always been to convert consumers to an Rx.  Not to long ago this was easy to because co-pays were lower and consumers wanted medication that could often provide “quick fixes” for health problems.  However, that model has changed.

The biggest change in consumer behavior, when it comes to Rx drugs, is that patients don’t want medications whose side effects are often worse than the health problem.  It has moved from treatment to quality of life treatment options.  The second challenge is the increasing power of insurers.  Today insurers are often penalizing cutovers who get brand name drugs when there are generic alternatives.  Insurers often dictate first and second line treatment options.  Finally there is fragmented media on different devices.  According to MillwardBrown “a typical multiscreen user consumes 7 hours of screen media per day during a 5 hour period. In most countries, smartphones are now the primary screen, taking up 2.5 hours of time daily. Smartphones and laptops dominate daytime screen use while TV takes center stage in the evenings, when tablet use also peaks.”

DTC marketers need an in depth understanding of their patients including current patients and patients considering treatment options.

Moving forward…

-DTC marketers need to better understand why and when patients are coming to their site and they have to better customize the online brand experience.


OPPORTUNITY: Create different landing pages/sites for each patient segment as the landing page is often the first thing customers see when they interact with your brand online. Whether it is a web page, Facebook app or mobile interstitial, landing pages exist to deliver relevant messaging that converts visitor traffic.

-Big data is meaningless without action insight implementation.

OPPORTUNITY: Review and update processes so that you can better react to consumer/patient voices online.

-Think of your online marketing as a living brand presence that needs to be updated.  However, content marketing may not be the answer as 63% of marketers have yet to see an ROI from content marketing.


OPPORTUNITY:  I know it’s hard but we may have to try and move away from showing an ROI for everything we do.  We need to work with key organizational influencers to win them over so that we can start to build trust with skeptical consumers.

The idea that running a TV spot again and again, like Cialis and Advair, is going to result in a positive ROI is flawed and irrelevant today.  We need to get closer to our audience, bot to sell but to listen and respond to their needs.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *