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What’s in a (Brand) Name?

Pharma and healthcare companies spend billions (1) on marketing and promoting their brand – but it may not always be worth it, according to a recent patient survey. The global professional services company Accenture Life Sciences quizzed 8,000 patients from the US, UK, France and Germany on their attitudes to brand loyalty and treatment decisions. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that the vast majority of patients (69 percent) consider the benefits of a product more important than its brand. But on the other hand, 25 percent of patients – a significant number – did rate brand loyalty or popularity as a top factor in their healthcare decisions.

Other important factors for patients when considering treatment choice were their relationship with their doctor (66 percent), the ability to maintain their current lifestyle (55 percent) and ease of access to care (53 percent). Of the 14 factors in the survey, product brand came in 12th.

The Accenture survey authors, Jim Cleffi and Boris Bogdan, suggest some key things to bear in mind when launching a new product.

Bring an outcome to market, not just a product

Begin focusing on outcomes at the clinical trial stage, and focus on launching evidence-based solutions rather than just products. Use this mindset to inform your launch strategies and commercialization plans.

When you launch a product, lead with the evidence

Demonstrate that your product can provide better outcomes, and consider how you can best communicate this to different patients – what evidence matters, and to who? Data-sharing and analytics are crucial to understand what and how to communicate with healthcare providers and patients. Also, remember that patients might not speak your “language” – speak to patients in a relevant and understandable way.

Tailor your product launches to match the needs, preferences and motivations of patient sub-segments, considering factors such as, geography and the specific disease

Consider who your patient is; for example, younger patients are generally more likely to switch if they think there is a better option available, whereas many baby boomers reported that their treatment decisions are affected by a lack of knowledge about what’s available. The location of patients has just as much impact as their age, making local launch teams are crucial.

Consider whether allocation of resources is optimal

The authors also question whether some of the resources and expenditure currently dedicated to brand promotion might be better used to fund things that really matter more to patients, such as more real world evidence for your product, or patient access programs.

“Our research makes it abundantly clear that product launch strategies must evolve from one-size-fits-all approaches,” says Accenture Life Sciences Managing Director Boris Bogdan. “Understanding  how patient sub-segments behave differently will fundamentally shift promotional decision-making and the development of supporting services.”

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  1. Kantar Media, eMarketer calculations.
  2. Accenture, “Product launch: the patient has spoken”, (2018). Available at: Accessed February 1, 2018.
About the Author
Roisin McGuigan

I have an extensive academic background in the life sciences, having studied forensic biology and human medical genetics in my time at Strathclyde and Glasgow Universities. My research, data presentation and bioinformatics skills plus my ‘wet lab’ experience have been a superb grounding for my role as a Deputy Editor at Texere Publishing. The job allows me to utilize my hard-learned academic skills and experience in my current position within an exciting and contemporary publishing company.

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