The Futuristic Insight

Jun 01, 2011

Creating and managing expectations is the most basic rule of marketing. Brands that lose sight of that—even those brands with a truly unique or exciting feature—will often stumble at some point early in their life cycle and possibly even cause their own failure. Take nothing for granted, even when marketing something as compelling and media-alluring as a nicotine vaccine.

Martin Mannion SVP Branding Director | yBrand, division of Ignite Health
Conditioning a particular marketplace is key. In this case, the promise of the vaccine would appear to sell itself, but that would be an assumptive mistake. The medical community, as well as the consumer public, has a bit of an ongoing love/hate relationship with the tobacco-cessation category. Some valid therapies have been launched, but even more have fallen flat on their promise or done a poor job at their shot at that ever-elusive first impression.

What a mistake it would be to approach or treat the vaccine category the same way one would treat a traditional pharma brand or OTC product.

Vaccines are a distinct animal with issues traditional pharma brands don't deal with much, if at all. For instance:
  • It is a highly feature (vs. benefit)-driven category
  • Most vaccines, rightly or not, are almost automatically commoditized in the eyes of healthcare professionals
  • Choice between vaccines is primarily driven by price
  • Manufacturing dynamics are often very fragile, which can cause significant disruptions in distribution throughout a brand's lifecycle
  • Patients often view the need to vaccinate with apathy and a lack of urgency
  • Vaccines are about prevention (vs.cure), which means success is an absence of the proof needed to reinforce the patient's behavior and mindset toward the product

Build the lock to fit your key. It would seem crucial for this brand to leverage interest among both healthcare professionals and consumers in its pre-launch phase, but with caveats:

  • NicVAX pre-launch efforts will fail if the brand simply joins the fray of the "smoking-is-bad" message
  • Any generic or generalized message is likely to drive interest in many other programs or resources and make the launch of the product even more difficult
  • In a world of media and sensory overload, the ability to retain information found in journals, glanced over in magazine ads, or spotted on billboards and subway posters not only challenges the most retention-adept minds, but is also unnecessary when we are always one Google search away from an answer to a stimuli we were exposed to. In a world where data-driven algorithms can freely tap into cloud-hosted databases of infinite knowledge, generalized messages do nothing more than dampen like a Maine mist in May.

Fabio Gratton, Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer lgnite Health
Even early on, the conversation must feel different and new. A brand like NicVAX has a unique opportunity to stand apart by carefully sculpting the conversation around the attributes that differentiate it from other solutions. This "shaping" and "defining" should start early—as early as the pre-launch phase, when the dialog is still in the "unbranded" stage.

Ultimately, it's crucial that the interest created by this new conversation must be paid off only by the launch of this vaccine and no other option.That way, appropriate interest has been inspired but the solution can only be satisfied by a single source—in this case, NicVAX.

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