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Do you want to see a magic trick?

Key points that drive behaviour change

Sadhi MirzaI can get you to change your behaviour in three easy steps and probably without you even knowing I’m doing it. Within the pharmaceutical industry, behaviour is still firmly entrenched in the biomedical model where pathophysiology, pharmacotherapy and technology are the focus when intervening in disease and illness. This biomedical model fails to acknowledge patient and clinician behaviour; that essentially determines the success or otherwise of your brands. The way we act and the decisions we make are heavily influenced by our perceived beliefs, the information we’re exposed to and the beliefs of those around us. When we can modify those beliefs we can start to affect targeted behaviour change in others.

Since the early 1990s behavioural scientists have developed several models for evaluating and understanding what influences behaviour, with regards to health-related outcomes. It’s now clear that there are key points of influence that can be targeted commercially, to induce specific outcomes that benefit patients, clinicians and your brand.

If we think about this as marketers, this is the science that sits behind the fact that we want people to identify there is an issue, be motivated to address that issue and to choose your product as the solution. So how could we use some of these insights in the work that we do? Well, three of the most powerful influencers are motivation, capability and opportunity.

Motivation is perhaps the most obvious driver of behaviour change and here we need to ask, what will motivate the individual to perform the desired behaviour? Let’s say we are promoting a quitting aid for smokers - what’s going to motivate our target demographic to quit? What type of messaging will resonate with them most? It may be the impact on their health, the impact their smoking has on others or from personal experience, plain old vanity. At this stage we would also need to ensure we help them understand that the advantages of any changes we’re coaxing them into making outweigh any disadvantages. The reality? You might miss the social aspect of smoking at parties but you won’t have yellow teeth.

Next comes capability. Do our smokers actually have the means to perform the behavioural change? Are they physically or psychologically able to make that change? Do they have the willpower to stay smoke-free now we’ve motivated them to quit, for example? If we can reflect this in the creative we develop it allows us to present our product in a way that instantly engages and resonates with our target. We understand what’s involved in helping you to quit and here’s how we’re going to support you to do it. Examples of physical capability we might need to address, though not relevant to our example here, could be anything from do they have the skills to enact this change to are they physically able to do it?

Remember, although we’ve focused so far on individuals and how these influencers can be used to affect behavioural change directly in them, these principles can also be flipped and reflected in what we communicate to clinicians as well - no one ever got upset about some passive upskilling.

Finally comes opportunity. This one is all about the environment our individuals are in. Does this environment allow our smokers to quit? Does it support them? What are the physical aspects of their environment that could present a barrier to them adopting this healthier behaviour? Maybe they are time-poor - so we push the convenience of our product. You can go straight to your pharmacist, no need to make an appointment with the doctor. What are the social factors? Perhaps all of their friends smoke as well? In which case we provide a vision of idyllic smoke-free socialising and hints and tips for how to cope in the face of temptation.

This snapshot into influencers of behaviour change demonstrates how we can use scientifically-validated principles to develop a seamless narrative, helping us reach successful, long-term, health-related and commercial outcomes. As marketers we can use our creative strategy and specific, relevant content to support your target audience at every step of the way, because we know what they’re facing, ultimately taking them on a journey that ends with your brand.

Sahdia Mirza is a senior account director at ghg London

Article by
In association with

Ghg London

21st November 2017

From: Marketing

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