What exciting times we are living in. Well I guess it depends on what side of the table you happen to be sitting but I think it exciting regardless. It is fair to say marketing as we know it has radically changed. The arrival of the social environment has forced traditional Marketers to rethink their strategies and tactics in the marketplace. Well, if it hasn’t, it should! Here are the reasons why:
1. The need to market to at least 4 generations at the same time. The buying, or decision-making power in the marketplace resides with Baby-Boomers, Generation-J, Generation-X and Generation-Y. Today, there are multiple touch points; from blogs, podcasts, emails, websites, mobile, social networks and more. In the past, there was little need to examine multiple touch points. You advertised; you exhibited; you had meetings; people bought. Today, it is a whole different story.
2. The need to involve the consumer. Branding has changed. It has changed from brand ownership to brand interaction. Businesses no longer own their brand; they no longer control their brand. They manage their brand. The consumer demands their involvement and interaction. It is a collaboration.
3. The consumer has changed. With at least four generations in the market space and the expectation of more involvement in the brand, the consumer of yesterday has drastically changed. No longer paternal in their thinking; they are requesting (if not demanding) more partnering with brands.
In summary, all the above speaks to the change in the attitude of a more informed, educated and active consumer with different media preferences. No longer passive, today’s consumers have much higher expectations. Furthermore, the consumer no longer just consumes, they create, participate, interact and contribute. There is an involvement that the Marketer must address and must be authentic and transparent about that interaction.
So what has all this got to do with Pharma and Healthcare?
Well, first of all, we should never look at change in isolation. There are always inter-dependencies. We need to understand the global and local social environment and how we fit into that as a whole. Secondly, consumers become patients and their demands and needs for communication and interaction does not change just because they are ill. One may argue because of the regulated nature of the industry, Pharma is exempt from these changes. Wrong. With a more demanding consumer comes a more demanding and involved patient. One could also argue with the need for clinical trials, the consumer/patient IS involved however going forward the need for “dialogue” is inevitable. So let me attempt to describe the implications as it relates to Healthcare (and consequently Pharma) and in so doing, describe the 3 key drivers that have enabled the patient to rise in their healthcare management.
1. Marketing Touch-Points. I have been in many a strategic planning sessions where debating “Who is the customer?” has become a norm in the Pharma environment. This debate is had just before the marketing strategies and plans are defined as it relates to so-called “touchpoints”. There are times the power and involvement of the patient in the healthcare value chain has been totally dismissed. That is the past! This may have been acceptable for the Silent and even the Baby Boomer generation. This is not acceptable for our current state. More information is demanded from our rising consumer base and hence patient base. The reality is that if it is not supplied by those in corporate Pharma or Healthcare Professionals, patients and care-givers are going to seek elsewhere for information and so the movement has started and the patient is rising. Pharma and Healthcare Professionals must consider these new and interactive touch-points.
2. Patient Involvement. With Pharma debating among themselves how much conversation they can have with the public and physicians having very little time for “bedside” conversations, patients are seeking alternative methods and options for their treatment and knowledge. We are indeed at the cusp of major change. Like the consumer, the patient is demanding and driving the need for more answers, more options and involvement in their healthcare. The patient has become a very active partner in their healthcare management. In what form? The form is in the shape of the e-Patient. The e-Patient is the patient that feels empowered, equipped, enabled and engaged in their healthcare decisions. A very different patient of the past and the reason I call the current era as the rise of the patient.
3. The Active Consumer. The Active Patient. With the advent of the e-Patient described above, there is an increasing rise of Participatory Healthcare and Peer-to Peer Healthcare. With the use of the social web, patients are able to reach-out to other patients on a broader scale and consequently form their own support healthcare networks. If you just do a Google or Twittter search, you will see a growing number of organized meetings and networks driven by the patient or caregiver. As a result, like consumer-based business where we are seeing the rise of the “customer–driven marketplace”, we are beginning to see “ the patient-driven healthcare management space”.
We are at the cusp of radical change in healthcare and the patient is a key component of that change.
What do you think?