Marketers discuss catalysts for use of behavioral science techniques

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What's been the biggest catalyst for drugmakers' use of behavioral science techniques in marketing?

Tom Kottler

Cofounder and CEO, HealthPrize Technologies

In a survey we conducted a few years ago, 47% of people said they would rather take out the trash than take their prescribed medicine, while 10% said they would rather have a cavity filled.

Taking your medication can be a daily reminder of an illness. It can also be difficult to connect today's dose of preventative medication to tomorrow's health problem, especially in the case of silent conditions such as diabetes.

Once we accept the fact that people choose to take or not take their medication because of its perceived value, we can find ways to help. The lessons behavioral science offers are proven to do just that.

We're able to give patients a different, positive value proposition to support adherent behavior, which results in enhanced revenue for the drugmaker and improved outcomes for the patient. For pharma, it's a win-win opportunity.



Meredith Terry, Ph.D.

Lead behaviorist, innovation and practice, MicroMass Communications

Many pharma brands are recognizing their standard marketing approach has limitations. Marketing teams understand behavior is complex, and that underlying beliefs and attitudes impact how customers interact with their brand.

Patients are under the emotional weight of a chronic or serious condition, and often carry the baggage of failed treatments. They may struggle to know how to communicate or manage their stress.

Providers are not immune to cognitive, emotional, and motivational factors that predict behavior. These factors may get in the way of their willingness to prescribe a brand, even with strong data.

Behavior change isn't easy and can't be accomplished through information alone.

Research demonstrates that approaches from behavioral science change how patients and providers think, feel, and behave.



Dennis Urbaniak
Chief digital officer, Havas Health & You

A significant catalyst is a growing understanding that most patients didn't sign up for the health conditions they are dealing with.

That critical nuance completely changes how content should be constructed and introduced, and affects how experiences are perceived.

The direct functional mass market approaches of the past generally ignored this key principle.

Today, thanks to the abundance of data sources, we can better understand where people are in their emotional journey and what they need to satisfy those concerns.

That's the first path to relevance for doctors to connect better with their patients.

From there, we can monitor emotional triggers and create sustainable, precise, and effective experiences.

It's less about the data and more about using behavioral science to learn from it.



Kate Perry
Director of behavioral science, Atlantis Healthcare

The attention to behavioral science may be born out of the realization that to properly support a patient, you must understand their needs from their perspective.

There is a growing awareness that each patient is more than a diagnosis, and outreach must provide more than treatment information.

It's critical to understand other emotional, physical and belief-based factors at play as each person manages their disease. Behavioral science can help.

That said, we wonder about the degree to which pharma effectively leverages behavioral science theory and techniques.

Effective application demands a rigorous approach grounded in the evidence base of what works in health behavior change.

Got a forum comment? Email larry.dobrow@haymarketmedia.com or marc.iskowitz@haymarketmedia.com.

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