Kantar Health Blog

The importance of evidence in proving brand value

by Mark Sales | Jul 11, 2014
Mark Sales

Recent changes in healthcare means the pharma industry needs to produce more evidence and work more collaboratively because payers themselves are collecting much more robust evidence that will either prove or disprove the claims the industry is making for brands. They have access to the same multichannel world as pharma and are able to seek information on their own – they don’t just rely on pharma anymore. The sheer proliferation of information is a game changer, and this abundance of readily available information, from multiple sources, means that unless pharma is adding new evidence, it has no value. One also sees a shift in active data collection to behavioral sources such as Twitter, online communities and device tracking. This has to form part of the mix driving decision making.

Perhaps as a consequence of needing to provide more evidence-based data, we’re now seeing marketing as more about measurement and science in terms of the way companies want to see returns, but with more of a consumer approach from the marketing teams. The understanding is that if you can’t measure exact ROI for brand marketing in the way that you can, for example, via sales with the launch of a car, then at least companies should have a more ordered approach to where they place resources and maximize investment.

While it’s true that consumer skills have been brought to brand marketing (where the rise of empowered patients has again played a role), the emotive approaches on which consumer works are simply not enough in pharma; there is now more of a focus on internal and external evidence bases. We are seeing fewer and fewer big, super-product, blockbuster drugs coming to market. In the past there was perhaps more leeway on whether you achieved peak sales of $1.5 billion or $1.8 billion, but now if that figure is going to be more like $500 million, you have to be confident in achieving it. Consequently, companies are taking a more scientific approach to pre-launch – not scientific in the laboratory sense, but in the sense of taking care to get a brand on that peak trajectory in the first place. In the past there might have been more focus on simply getting the brand into the marketplace and working out how to beat the competition when it’s out there. That doesn’t work now.

Pharma needs this more scientific approach to launch to be driven by evidence-based research and more evidence-based measurement of results. One of the biggest organizational changes we’ve seen over the last few years is the way in which responsibility for the period “T minus two years to launch” seems to have settled more in the strategic marketing space and less in development, reflecting a need to plan out the market access pathway properly, get the channel mix right and do the classic marketing exercises, including forecasting.


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