Klick Health

How to Inject New Life Into Mature Pharma Brands

Vice President, Strategy

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Mature brands present a unique challenge for pharmaceutical marketers. After a product has been in market for 5-7 years, it becomes increasingly difficult to attract audience attention. Without new clinical data or new indications, even blockbuster brands struggle to grow market share and rekindle interest in their offering.

Klick Health has built deep experience working with dozens of brands in this situation. We have learned that by combining smart marketing principles with modern technology platforms, we can inject new life into mature brands.

Here are seven tools marketers can use to help “turn back the clock”:

(1) Customer Micro Analysis

Modern audience targeting tools (e.g. Crossix) can provide deeper insights into high value subsets of customer segments. By digging into attributes such as age range, gender, and prescribing behavior, non-personal promotion can be refined to better connect with a brand’s highest-value customers.

For example, marketing efforts for a therapy for opioid addiction need to be able reach doctors who have special waivers to prescribe buprenorphine. By creating models based on existing waivered prescribers, marketers can reach a small, yet high-value subset of doctors in a very short period of time.

(2) “Frictionless” Reimbursement

Reimbursement is just one of the many administrative headaches in health care. Frictionless reimbursement is about about asking the question: “how could we make this process as seamless as possible?”. Whether by deploying a reimbursement “task force” or offering automated reimbursement tools, there are a number of ways pharma companies can help.

For example, when patients and caregivers are dealing with the stress and hardship associated with cancer treatment, even the smallest effort to ease the burden of administrative tasks is appreciated.

(3) Long Tail Strategy

Instead of focusing solely on high value segments, long tail strategy targets lower decile audiences using low cost, high reach tactics such as email. Using modern audience targeting, it is possible to identify high-value audience segments as well as low value segments and message directly to them.

In crowded market spaces such as IBS and chronic constipation, new entrants would find themselves up against well-established “800 lb gorillas”. Instead of trying to outspend the market leaders, a new entrant could use email to reach larger pools of lower value segments in a cost effective way.

(4) Create Patient Demand

Research has consistently shown that patients who ask for specific medications by name are far more likely to have them prescribed by their doctor. When the “writing reflex” for a competitor’s product is high, focusing on creating patient demand can help break the habit.

Consider the case of a relatively smaller player in a crowded arthritis market. Instead of outspending direct competitors, the small player’s brand message could be focused on “dosing simplicity”.  By focusing their value proposition on ease of staying on the drug, the brand can appeal to both HCPs and patients with a unique message that patients will ask for by name.

(5) Target Comorbidities

Specific conditions or disease states typically have comorbidities associated with them. For example, diabetes patients often have joint pain, high blood pressure, etc. By trying to reach high value patients in innovative ways, marketers can reach prospective audiences with less competitive noise.

To illustrate, Klick Health has partnered with Instream to deliver customer-specific advertising printed on the back of in-store receipts based on purchase and affinity data. By understanding the comorbidities associated with a brand’s target audience, relevant ads can be “served” to consumers who are likely to be experiencing associated conditions.

(6) Exploit a Micro Attribute

Identifying and “owning” an attribute of a product can be an effective way of differentiating an offering in a crowded space. This approach can work even if the selected micro attribute is common to other products, provided it is “owned” before the competition.

To illustrate, when Cialis was launched to compete with Viagra, Pfizer already owned the erectile dysfunction market with their male-centric marketing campaign.  Cialis focused instead on couples and improving the wellness of romantic relationships. Owning this attribute that could be argued is common to every ED treatment helped Cialis earn a huge share of the market.

(7) Increase Support for HCPs

Research consistently shows that HCPs place intrinsic value on tools that help them treat their patients and run their practices. By providing doctors with tools such as patient education materials, support resources, and other practical tools, brands can participate in a value exchange with doctors instead of simply broadcasting branded messages.

Astellas’ resource portal houses a suite of customizable disease state education materials for HCPs to provide to their patients. This approach demonstrates Astellas’ commitment to HCPs “beyond the pill” by providing valuable materials that help them treat their patients and keep them informed.

After 5-7 years, the lack of new information to share with target audiences about a brand makes “moving the needle” a big challenge. While there are no silver bullets, a handful of well-formed tactics can have a big impact.  By combining sound marketing practices with the latest technology, marketers can inject new life into mature brands.

Thanks to Ari Schaefer, Brian O’Donnell, and Julie Batten

More About the Author

Dave Lougheed

Dave is a seasoned strategic leader and builder of teams with a technology focus. His sweet spot is at the intersection of leadership, strategy, creative, and technology. Over nearly 20 years, he has assembled and mentored some of the interactive industry's most talented digital product designers, developers, and research specialists. Dave is passionate about building great places to work and has deep knowledge of digital strategy and interactive software design.

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