Kantar Health Blog

Digital segmentation – the key to managing Type 2 Diabetes in India?

by Gauri Pathak | Jun 21, 2012
Gauri Pathak

My last blog mentioned a landmark report we completed to profile Indian Type 2 Diabetes patients’ and look at how they manage their disease. Having gained a detailed understanding of these patients, we started to uncover some really interesting findings about how pharma companies might change their communication strategies to improve engagement with these patients.


Traditional segmentation techniques revealed that over a third fell into the "Careless and Casual” category and another 18% into ”defiant non followers” segment, meaning that almost half of our sample were in denial and/or lacked the discipline required to comply with medication dose requests. While most complied with doctor and specialist recommendations regarding frequency of diagnostic tests, doctor visits, and brands purchased, around 64% were skipping doses and most of them did not take any corrective action in terms of diet and lifestyle.  


It’s obviously important to target these patient groups with marketing campaigns and messages that are different to the messages for those segments that want to control and contain their illness by complying. But how do you influence patients who don’t want to comply or are in denial? We know that patients suffering from diabetes are increasingly connecting with other patients using social media. Specialist community sites like D-book enable them to not only share their experience with fellow patients but to benefit from doctors’ expertise, using video conferencing and online discussion. We also know that wealthier Indian patients tend to be connected to the internet. We therefore decided to look at re-segmenting our patient types using the Digital Life online classifications, used to determine the extent of stakeholders’ activity and engagement online to see if using mainly online communication would improve our patients’ engagement and compliance.




Interestingly, we found that over half of our patient group, including those non-compliant patients, fell into the "Aspirer" category  with high online involvement. They would therefore be very susceptible to the use of social media and online chat for disease education and also marketing even although their usage of these channels was not as high as some of the other groups. A further quarter of patients were power internet users or “Influencers”, meaning that almost three quarters of the sample would have strong engagement in digital campaigns. So whereas a traditional brochure or educational campaign may fall on stony ground, digital engagement was certainly identified as a strong means of getting our previously non-compliant patients to engage.


Our strong recommendation to pharma companies looking to educate Type 2 diabetes patients in India or encourage them to take their medication is to look at how to get that message across digitally. We can’t stop the spread of this dreadful disease but at we can at least choose the best means to educate patients, help them come to terms with their disease and and help them manage their symptoms to achieve a better quality of life.








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