Vantage Point: PMRG

Despite a 2009 that both sides of the healthcare marketing research table would readily admit was less than uplifting, PMRG attracted several hundred people to its fall event in Philadelphia. Especially encouraging was the client turnout, indicating that pharma marketing researchers continue to find value in attending.

A number of other good things happened at PMRG. Let me highlight two. First, I would like to congratulate my colleague, Susan Schwartz McDonald, PhD, president and CEO, National Analysts Worldwide, for receiving the RR Fordyce Award for her contributions to our profession. She has been, and remains, an intellectual leader in our field, a staunch advocate of our specialty in the broader field of marketing research, someone who is not afraid to appear in court to apply her expertise assisting litigants who she believes are right, and a successful businesswoman to boot. Our industry could use a lot more people like her, and that is what the Fordyce award is supposed to signify.

The second thing that grabbed me was Jonathan Salem Baskin's keynote presentation. Based on his book, Branding Only Works on Cattle, Jonathan made the point that while branding can get someone to remember a product's personality, it doesn't sell anything. Sales require “behavior.” In the eye of this beholder, Jonathan's presentation supported a theme that the healthcare marketing model needs a major overhaul and must separate itself from the practices of other marketing sectors on which we have relied for decades. Cute taglines, creative graphics and similar ploys will increasingly fall by the wayside, and the “behavior” to which Baskin alludes, e.g., superior performance at optimal pricing, will carry the day.  

Richard Vanderveer is CEO of GfK Healthcare

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