Let's see how this thinking plays out in terms of a process. We often characterize marketing as a process that moves prospects
from awareness, to interest, to desire, and finally to action (AIDA). With challenger brands viewing the process (and our
job as marketers) as moving customers from their comfort zone to a point of discomfort, then into a new comfort zone that
includes our product or service, this multiplies the impact of the marketing plan (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Deconstructing the discomfort/comfort process.
Some call it disruption. Some call it creating a tipping point in the customer's beliefs. But it's all based on creating discomfort,
then moving the customer to a new comfort level. This creates a more productive framework to evaluate challenges, develop
strategies, and formulate the marketing mix. The process consists of five stages:
Stage 1. The customer is in his or her comfort zone with the product currently used.
Create discomfort—open a dialogue to make the status quo less secure.
Stage 2. The customer becomes engaged and neutral/mildly open to discussion or consideration.
Create discomfort—clearly define unmet needs with current product.
Stage 3. The customer becomes uncomfortable with the current practice and is open to considering new solutions.
Create a new comfort zone—align your product's strengths and values with your customer's needs.
Stage 4. The customer moves to a new comfort zone with your product.
Strengthen the comfort zone—make the change as easy as possible and reward the new choice.
Stage 5. The customer settles into the new comfort zone as competition begins to attack.
Strengthen the new comfort zone—defend the comfort zone with expanded support and value.
Finding unmet needs
Behind the process is an assessment of the underlying comfort and discomfort drivers, somewhat akin to an ATU study. This
begins with key questions about the physician and his or her practice.
How comfortable are your target customers?
» How long have they been using the product or service?
» What's the risk involved in the use or treatment?
» How well do they understand the disease or drug category? (For example, a PCP may be the initial treater for a specialty
disease and would not have in-depth experience.)
» How difficult is it to administer or use the product?
How and when do they use the product(s) you plan to displace?
» At what stage of the disease?
» On which type or profile of patients?
» Which treatments do they use and when?
Do they recognize specific unmet needs?
Is their attitude open or closed?
» Age of physician
» Department or individual formulary?
» Do they practice at a teaching or community hospital?
» Are they the decision maker?
Armed with the details of your customers' basic attitudes, trial, and use drivers and a well-structured process, moving them
from their comfort zone to yours can help convert a challenger brand into a significant contender.
Al Topin is President of Topin & Associates, and a member of Pharm Exec's Editorial Advisory Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org