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Leveraging Loyalty in Marketing Pharmaceuticals to Patients

In the first blog in this series we discussed loyalty marketing among health care professionals (HCPs). As previously stated, the notion of “loyalty” as a guide to our marketing efforts seems like a worthwhile proposition; however, the challenges associated with the delivery and maintenance of a successful loyalty program may sometimes present more grief than the result warrants.

Unlike travel and banking, the concept of loyalty in pharma goes beyond a patient’s propensity to choose one prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) drug over another. While the patient will most certainly have a range of influence on the outcome of a visit with their general practitioner (GP) or specialist, the product associated with the therapeutic intervention will be more influenced by what the HCP feels is appropriate versus what the patient says they want.

While not as complex as the relationship between an HCP and a pharmaceutical brand or manufacturer, patients have an interesting relationship with pharmaceutical brands that goes beyond habit, tradition and familiarity. First and of greatest importance to the patient, does the product achieve the desired results? That may be a function of their own interpretation of how they feel (eg. rheumatoid arthritis, COPD) or by their GP’s interpretation of a related lab analysis (eg. high blood pressure, cholesterol). Secondly, the patient will be concerned about issues of antagonism between other drugs they are taking; namely, is there any co-morbidity, or are there side effects? Price (PBM coverage), access, contraindications, ease of application, willingness to share personal data and privacy are all considerations in patient loyalty.

Adherence and persistency are the primary metrics used to measure patient loyalty. A combination of adhering to the dosing regimen and staying with the prescribed treatment over time is what quantifies the extent of a patient’s loyalty to the product or treatment. To this end, there are a number of variables that influence patient’s loyalty, including: age, gender, religion and social bias, household income, family and related household demographics, relationship (and tenure) with their GP, employment status, nature of the therapeutic condition in question, and “visibility or impact” of the disease on their daily lives.

So while the concept of leveraging loyalty in pharmaceutical marketing to patients may seem like the pursuit of low-hanging fruit, the key decision-makers, unique patient profile variables and accurate measurement challenges require cross-target considerations, and a broader analysis of the real opportunities. Whether it be among HCPs or patients, the key to achieving a full 360° view of “loyalty” within our target audience revolves around leveraging the full spectrum of available insights and designing pilot initiatives to isolate and quantify their impact.

Have questions? Contact Kent Groves for more information.

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