Virtual Reality Relationships
Analysts interviewed for last year's Media Spend Trends Report (see Pharmaceutical Executive's "Media Spend Trends: Change the Channel," April 2006) predicted 2006 would be an "infrastructure-building year" for companies.
At the heart of it, they predicted that the industry would be building up the skill sets and tools to focus on more sophisticated
disease-awareness and medication-compliance efforts. This prediction seems to have come to pass both on the professional and
on the consumer side, with pharmaceutical companies actively embracing "relationship marketing"efforts.
The Detail Drop: Sales Dollars Decline Again
Company executives see this wave of relationship marketing focusing on medication compliance and adherence strategies and
getting patients to fill a prescription—whether it is for the first time or the 50th. "We found that 20 percent of people
who type a brand name into an Internet search engine are already holding what we call an 'unfilled first script' in their
hands," Nalen says.
One of the hallmarks of relationship marketing is constant, steady, and strong messages to stakeholders. In this way, if pharmaceutical
marketers want relationship marketing to work, they need to take a tip from the tactic they are seeking to employ, and stick
with their marketing efforts for the long-haul. "Pharma is finding that relationship marketing is a trust account that is
not susceptible to the winds of the day," he says. "So they need to make a commitment and put it at the 'adult' table."
One might say that at 10 years old, DTC is growing up.
Diane West is a freelance contributing author. She can be reached at email@example.com.
One Decade of DTC Advertising
Companies hone their communication craft to focus on the next 10 years of DTC challenges
Direct-to-consumer advertising has come a long way in its first action-packed decade. "There was a big lack of knowledge in
both the approach to DTC advertising and the measurement of its effectiveness 10 years ago," says Tim Kelly, practice leader
of promotion management for IMS. "Pharma companies had a lot of money to throw at it, and they did."
Journal Spending: Bumpy Ride
If pharma companies were throwing money at consumer advertising, then their aim has gotten better. "The ad agencies who did
early DTC were the same ones that advertised laundry detergent—so they didn't really know how to drive someone to the physician
to talk about a condition," says Kelly. "But companies became smarter and quickly formed whole brand teams around the drugs
they were promoting."
Looking to the next decade, Kelly sees three key issues that DTC must face. The first is adherence to PhRMA's Guiding Principles
on Direct-to-Consumer Advertising. Announced in August 2005, the Principles urge healthcare companies to follow industry-generated
guidelines for responsible DTC. "Some companies follow the principles religiously," Kelly says. "Safety issues are a public
relations nightmare, so it's actually better to wait until the second year before making a big marketing push."
The second issue is regional managed care networks. Marketers must wrestle with understanding if their advertising can be
effective in the face of high co-pays. Says Kelly: "What good is the best advertising in the world if patients don't have
access to the drug because of a $30 or $50 co-pay?"