What exactly do people do when they’re interested in a DTC advertisement?

The idea that people who see and are interested in an advertised prescription drug will ask their doctor about it is outdated. Today, potential patients looking for new treatments go online to learn more or talk to their doctor at their next appointment.

I’m in the second month of extended research for a client who wants to understand better what people do when they see a DTC TV advertisement. Over two dozen focus groups have consistently told us the same things.  Here’s what we learned…

1ne: If they’re interested in the product, they look for more information, usually online or with their doctor. What they’re most interested in are the drug’s side effects and potential cost. If they’re currently on therapy, they need good reasons to make a switch.

2wo: They will visit pharma product websites, but those sites very rarely influence their decisions.  Pharma industries’ positive ratings are the lowest Gallup has recorded for each in annual trends since 2001, according to Gallup.  We’re hearing that in our research as people are saying “they just want to make money” and “the side effects are usually worse”.  They also complain that most pharma websites are difficult to understand and don’t contain the information they need to make decisions.

3hree: They still trust their doctor when making treatment decisions, although younger demographics tend to trust what they find online.  Younger demographics pride themselves on being able to find information online that may influence their choices.  HCPs should be made aware of what’s being discussed among patient populations.

4our: Cost is still a big part of the puzzle, but they believe “someone is paying”.  Coupons may help drive new scripts, but they want to know what happens when the coupons expire.

5ive: Caregivers play a big part in the decision-making process and decide based on what gives them peace of mind in caring for the people under their care.

6ix: They get annoyed when certain ads are repeated too much.  They believe the money spent on TV ads could be better spent on lowering prices.

In summary, very few in target audiences make decisions based on TV ads.  DTC marketers need to understand what their audience is doing when they become aware of their brand and decide where best they can reach these people as they’re making decisions.