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What pharma marketers can learn from behavioural science

Pharma behavioural science and traditional emotional marketing create a powerful mix of techniques that have impact on real lives.

Trying to get people to change their behaviour can be a frustrating endeavour. Marketers know this only too well but, for pharma, behavioural science can offer many insights and suggestions for fresh marketing approaches.

The marketing industry as a whole has learnt many ways to influence its target audiences. They know which shelves to place things on in the supermarket, and the effectiveness of harnessing the impulse buy with POS items. They know which page is best in magazine advertising, or where on a webpage to place marketing messages.  

They’ve learnt to appeal to our innate desire for better lifestyles, and tell us we’ll be happier, healthier, more attractive or live longer if only we use their product.

Pharma marketing needs to go deeper than a momentary appeal to instant gratification.  

Pharma behavioural science takes marketing to new level of audience awareness, and while behavioural science used to be exclusively in the academic realm, it can offer pharma marketers the type of insight that’s needed to encourage behaviour change in HCPs and conversely, patients.

Science based on solid principles

Pharma behavioural science helps marketers by opening up research that provides a structure based on both evidence and theory. An example is Nudge Theory.  

The Nudge Theory posits that people respond best to behaviour change programmes when those programmes are based on how we actually think and make choices, which is by instinct and can often be irrational. The theory contradicts the ways in which authorities often assume people make decisions, by choosing rationally and logically.

The idea is that offering gentle, alternative choices that are relatively easy to achieve is better than making dictatorial statements that demand change. An example would be to provide more litter bins instead of putting up notices that warn of fines for littering. It is based on the reality of everyday situations, encouraging people to make positive decisions. This approach is an almost perfect match that could be adopted into behaviour change applications intended to encourage better choices.  

Understanding what makes people tick

Of course, this isn’t the only theory that comes straight from psychological sources and which could be adopted for behaviour change development.  

When used effectively for marketing, behavioural science can help with:

  • Creating change programmes that deal with issues people are experiencing.
  • Drawing on a deep pool of knowledge gleaned from many years of behaviour change work.
  • Evaluation to measure impact, followed by offering suggested improvements to a programme or campaign.   
All too often, behaviour change interventions are ignored or passed over by the very people who need them most. There are all kinds of reasons why people resist or reject change, from emotional low self-esteem to physical barriers such as travel difficulties or family and peer pressures.  

When behavioural science and traditional marketing come together, the result is a powerful mix of techniques that can bring commercial advantages as well as real improvement in real lives.  

Making people want to change is half the battle, so just as marketing in other industries makes an emotional appeal that promises a lifestyle improvement, so too could pharma behavioural science be used in marketing.

This blog was original published here:

21st May 2018



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