Finding the Hidden Behavior Solutions - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Finding the Hidden Behavior Solutions


Pharmaceutical Executive


Misapplied Attitudes

Attitudinal segmentations are in every nook and cranny within the walls of pharma. One could argue that they are an important component of the marketer's armamentarium—when they are correctly applied, that is. When they are misapplied they are the cause of budget leaks that could fill Lake Ontario, suboptimal brand performance, and frustrated senior leadership. Correctly applied they are used to shape stylistic communications—and not to direct motivational drivers. A slight diversion should illustrate the point.

Let's say that my attitude towards house cleaning is that it is boring, tiring, and time-consuming. Nonetheless, I clean my house. Let's say my sister's attitude is that it is rewarding and makes the house look and smell better. Opposing attitudes, same behavior—not what would have been predicted if attitudes were causing the behavior.

Let's say we both have extroverted personalities that would, arguably, prefer to be doing something more fun than the solitary task of house cleaning, but yet we both clean our homes—not what we would have predicted. The conclusion is that neither attitudes nor personality are driving the behavior here.

So what is driving the behavior? A possible answer could be acceptance of a social norm. Not that we would dissuade good home cleaning, but to illustrate, suppose we wanted to change this house cleaning behavior; how would we do that? Two possible solutions come to mind: A) Challenge the acceptance of the social norm or B) challenge the social norm itself. For the former approach, you could communicate to the target audience: You don't have to do everything that people expect of you; So what if you don't clean your bathroom or your neighbor/spouse thinks it's cruddy; What do you care of their opinion? For the latter approach, you could communicate a message such as: You're a full-time working mother, people don't expect you to have a pristine home, too. The bathroom looks just fine. Either way, when you are operating against the causal drivers of the behavior, the behavior will change. It's a simple case of mathematics:

Y = MX + C

Y = cleaning bathrooms; X = social norm; C = acceptance of that norm; and M = the weighting of the social norm relative to acceptance. With a simple equation to explain your market's behavior, you know if your focus should be on X or C, what bang for your buck you will get from focusing on X compared to C, and how much you need to shift both X and C to achieve your new goal of eliminating Y or doubling Y. Now, if only pharmaceutical marketing could be so simple!

What's the Next Move?

So now that we've put on the table the pitfalls of commonly accepted 'solutions' for non-adherence, where do we go from here? The answer: Where the industry has been since its inception—the sciences. In a succeeding issue of Pharm Exec we'll discuss how the scientific method and mathematics can be applied to non-adherence to finally take the bull by the horns.

Andrea LaFountain is CEO of Mind Field Solutions. She can be reached at


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