Sector News

Pharma, stop trying to sell drugs like they're cars or shoes

May 3, 2017
Life sciences

Most people would agree that Oreos and arthritis meds probably shouldn’t be sold the same way. However, according to branding consultant Vince Parry, many pharma companies are doing just that by using consumer branding strategies to sell drugs. That’s a mistake, says the 30-year pharma ad agency vet.

The problem lies in the difference between consumer and healthcare products, he said. People buy things such as cars, clothing, electronic devices and even food as a way to distinguish and define themselves, while healthcare products are bought as necessities to treat illnesses that people do not wish to be defined by.

“People seek out remedies not as something they want to buy, but something that they have to buy. It’s a necessary evil,” Parry said. “They’re not seeking a celebration of self, but a restoration of self. When you see commercials on TV where people are loving their laxatives or celebrating their new arthritis medicine by running around on the beach with a golden retriever, it rings false and untrue.”

His solution? Pharma companies should continue to invest in advertising, but they need to also include healthcare branding strategies.

“An ad agency’s job is to inform people about the product and trying to get it sold. Branding is about building identity, which superimposes patient values onto that brand, to create a flattering reflection of the person they want to be or want to be again,” said Parry, who details his thinking in his new book “Identity Crisis: Health Care Branding’s Hidden Problems and Proven Strategies to Solve Them.”

His “Goldilocks” three-step process for branding pharma products goes as follows: First, discover what values the brand has and what consumers want to restore. Next, decide as a team what value is best superimposed on the brand. And then create visual and verbal cues like logos, typography, color patterns, photography style and other branding hallmarks that have been proven through behavioral psychology to evoke those emotional connections.

One of the examples he offered is Eli Lilly’s erectile dysfunction drug Cialis, which he worked on in the past. Instead of being about sex, the brand is built around restoring intimacy to a relationship. Intimacy is the brand value Cialis embodies and projects.

“Consumer branding strategies are dazzling, but they’re wrong (for pharma),” he said. “It works for Nike and that’s great. It’s a great model if you want to celebrate your life, but illness is not a celebration of life.”

Parry has run his own brand consultancy, Parry Branding Group, for five years. His previous experience includes chief branding officer at inVentiv Health, founder and president at GSW, New York, and chief creative officer at Sudler & Hennessey.

By Beth Snyder Bulik

Source: Fierce Pharma

comments closed

Related News

October 17, 2021

Colorcon acquires a majority share in Ideal Cures Pvt. Ltd., India

Life sciences

Ideal Cures will operate as a fully independent entity within Colorcon. Their business complements Colorcon’s position in the Indian pharmaceutical market with a strong presence in the domestic generic sector comprised of long-standing customer relationships sustained by innovative and customized solutions.

October 17, 2021

Barriers exist, but participation urgent in breast cancer clinical trials: report

Life sciences

Across four new breast cancer treatments approved by the FDA last year, 2% to 9% of patients in clinical trials for the drugs were Black Americans and 0% to 9% were Hispanic, according to a new report from Breastcancer.org.

October 17, 2021

Danish consortium acquires part of Jernbanebyen to create one of the world’s healthiest urban villages

Life sciences

The southern section of Jernbanebyen in central Copenhagen has a new owner. The Baneby Consortium, comprising NREP, Novo Holdings and Industriens Pension, has bought the land from Freja Ejendomme. The ambition is to create a green, partly car-free environment that will also be one of the healthiest in the world. 

Send this to a friend