Direct to Consumer: Inspirational Insights

Get to the heart of it. Revolutionalize your brand.
Apr 01, 2006


Bob Sukys
Ask for their favorite new products or advertising campaigns, and most folks in pharma marketing can easily rattle off a whole list. But ask, "What were the consumer insights behind the product or advertising?" and you may be met by a blank stare. That's too bad, because whether brand marketers are developing a current product or launching a new one, powerful consumer insights are what they need to get into the hearts and minds of their target consumers. Insights are about what customers are saying and thinking, and what truly matters to them. Once you've identified a consumer insight, you can use it to transform the brand's basic benefit into a distinctive proposition that will have customers saying, "You're talking to me," or, "I've never thought about it that way before." Insights overcome barriers to belief in what your brand delivers. They become the pathway to your product's ultimate success in the marketplace.


Bill Vernick
Here's a classic example of the concept at work: In the 1980s, Folgers Coffee went to consumers to find out what coffee really meant to them. At the time, logically enough, most coffee makers marketed their products on flavor. But Folgers discovered that waking up to the smell of coffee was important to consumers. Armed with that simple, striking insight, they created a memorable slogan ("The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup"). They also created a direction for the brand; over the years they came up with special roasting and packaging techniques, designed to enhance aroma. Their consumer insight has been a part of the brand ever since.

Elsewhere in this issue, the editors of Pharm Exec present their picks of the year's best in pharma advertising. Here, we have a slightly different goal. We'd like to nominate our own list of "The Ten Best Pharmaceutical Consumer Insights." We can't claim to have inside knowledge of what the managers of each of these brands were thinking, but we've reviewed thousands of product launches and ad campaigns, and sifted for a common thread: what we believe is a brilliant consumer insight that was exposed to the public in a simple, memorable way. We like to think that these are the sort of consumer insights that make you say, "Holy Cow—why didn't I think of that!"

Well, why didn't you? And next time out, why don't you?

So there you have it, 10 excellent examples of how an insight can lead to inspirational marketing and advertising. Sometimes its strength lies in the simplicity of the thought, as in Abilify, and sometimes it's in the clever way it's brought to life, as in Vytorin or Lamisil. In any case, when you can truly connect with your consumers by getting into their hearts and minds with the magic of a powerful insight, it's not necessarily a soft sell, nor a hard sell—it's a strong sell. And it works.

Bob Sukys is director of BrandMine. He can be reached at

Bill Vernick is creative director of Insight Manager. He can be reached at