For the People, By the People - Pharmaceutical Executive

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For the People, By the People


Pharmaceutical Executive


Engagement Marketing Is Inevitable

The mass consumerization of healthcare has ushered in an unprecedented level of brand engagement.

In other consumer businesses, companies are creating branded communities at the center of their marketing mix, with content driven by users. Those companies that are engaging consumers as de facto brand managers are reaping significant rewards in the form of customer loyalty and higher sales.

As public knowledge about health, treatment, and disease continues to grow, pharma companies will also benefit from engaging consumers.

Trusted online destinations using information validated by experts, where users come to get smarter about their health, are the wave of the future. As A.G. Lafley, CEO of Proctor & Gamble said, "The power is with the consumer. Consumers are beginning, in a very real sense, to own our brands and participate in their creation. We need to begin to let go."

By its troublingly slow pace of adoption, the pharma industry is missing the opportunity this new healthcare marketing paradigm has to offer.

The risks are manageable; the benefits, enormous. And the case for becoming digitally driven, clear. We won't get there simply by bolting digital tactics onto marketing programs, keeping digital expertise hidden in a silo, or our heads buried in the sand.

Marketers must serve as role models for clients, evolving our own companies from having digital specialists to having digital specialty as a core competency.

For the healthcare industry, this is a new way of thinking. It requires a massive shift in the orientation of its communications—from monologue to dialogue, from push-only branding to real-time experiential marketing, from total control to shared control. It's risky, and it won't come easy. But consumers are out there searching for the healthy answer. And we must help them find it.

Lynn O'Connor Vos is CEO of Grey Healthcare Group. She can be reached at


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