When I mention consumer insights, people typically think of end-user consumers.
However, early in my career I was working on an OTC antacid when H2 receptors, cimetidine and ranitidine, were being introduced by major pharmaceutical companies. My client wanted to understand how gastroenterologists were viewing the new H2 receptors relative to OTC medications and their awareness of the active ingredients in the different products.
To find out we conducted two focus groups with gastroenterologists.
During the focus groups we learned:
- Gastroenterologists had no idea what was in the different OTC antacid brands.
- Gastroenterologists were prescribing H2 receptors at the slightest indication of heartburn so their patients would not return with the same complaint.
- They were aware H2 receptors would stop acid production which led to heartburn — they were trying to satisfy their customers!
The key takeaways for my client and me was that:
- We would have to rely on marketing our OTC product directly to consumers.
- We could save our money trying to convince the doctor have the patient try a relatively inexpensive OTC antacid prior to filling, what at the time was, a very expensive script.
The groups also spoke to the effectiveness of drug reps in getting the message to their target and were an early affirmation of the effectiveness of pharmaceutical companies’ direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising.
With the advent of social media, there has been some speculation that drug reps will no longer have a place in presenting products to physicians. However, I still believe the power of direct human interaction will be more effective in sales just as I believe it will be more effective in obtaining insights and finding the emotional link between the consumer and the brand.
What insights have you gained from having a dialogue with doctors?