Adaptive Marketing—Means, Motive and Opportunity

Bruce Grant, SVP of Strategy, Healthcare Portfolio at Epsilon
Bruce Grant, SVP of Strategy, Healthcare Portfolio at Epsilon

In a criminal trial, prosecutors must prove that defendants had the means, the motive and the opportunity to commit the crime in which they are charged.

Today's media technologies and data sources give healthcare marketers both the means and the opportunity to create precisely individualized offers, based on personal data. But whether this new adaptive marketing will be perceived by consumers as a “crime”—more intrusive messaging and invasion of privacy—or as valued, timely, relevant content and services will depend most crucially on our motives.

We're all familiar with Amazon's data-driven ability to deliver personalized recommendations. We're also familiar with auto makers that let buyers customize their new car models online, then locate the nearest dealer that has that exact one on the lot, and with crowd-sourced product development and delivery innovations like Anheuser-Busch's gamified use of input from more than 25,000 consumers to develop a brand more attuned to America's evolving craft-beer tastes.

According to recent research from SDL, 80% of US consumers are perfectly willing to share personal data with brands they trust will use it responsibly by making their offers more beneficial to them and tailoring them to their individual needs and preferences. In other words, consumers want transparency and choice. And marketers should be clear in defining for consumers how the information they collect will deliver more relevant and valuable informational and service experiences.

Healthcare marketers today unquestionably have the means—the data and technologies—and the opportunity—the profusion of new media channels—to implement adaptive marketing. Today's data sources and analytics give us the ability to truly customize content and offers down to the individual customer level, moving away from the kind of classic mass-appeal, mass-messaging approach that inevitably leads to commoditization. And the current technologies give us the speed to respond to customers in real-time, as their needs change. In addition, the newest media channels—addressable TV, location-based and hyper-local platforms, digital out-of-home, and the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices—allow us to deliver individualized content and service precisely where and when it is most desired and valued.

But whether we in pharma achieve the same success as marketers in other sectors will ultimately depend on our ability to refocus our marketing motives from one-way messaging designed to drive customer behavior in the direction we want, to creating mutual value for our customers and our brands. If we are able to make this shift in mindset, and then to make the changes in our marketing structures, processes and culture that follow from that, we will be well equipped, not just to survive, but to prosper in the new age of adaptive marketing.

Bruce Grant is SVP of Strategy, Healthcare Portfolio at Epsilon