Healthcare Professionals to Remain a Key Target for Marketers

Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars every year on direct-​to-​consumer advertising. But consumers are considering a variety of sources when it comes to their health. As a result, pharma and other health-​related product marketers must be sure to win over the key influencers on consumer health when they are rolling out new campaigns.

The 2011 Health Barometer study from Edelman sheds some light on consumer attitudes about their health and healthcare products. About 62% of survey participants admitted that they engage in unhealthy behavior. The majority of these consumers have tried and failed to change these behaviors which range from smoking to excessive drinking to overeating.  Reasons for failure include:

  •  Addiction/​dependency
  • Lack of immediate reward for making a change
  • Lack of support

When consumers seek to initiate change, such as healthier eating, about 36% turn to friends and families for advice.  Here’s how a variety of sources stack up when consumers are seeking credible health information:

  • Doctors: 88%
  • Pharmacists: 81%
  • Nurses: 77%
  • Nutritionists: 75%
  • Celebrities: 17%
  • Reporters: 29%

Clearly, marketers with new healthcare products to promote must be sure to win over medical professionals ranging from doctors to nutritionists to get their products recommended and prescribed.

Edelman's Nick Fahy sees another marketing channel emerging in these findings and notes “Individuals have a powerful influence not just over their own health but also those around them.” Fahy indicates that social networks can play a role both in influencing behavioral changes and in determining which products and services are purchased. For now, pharmaceutical companies, in particular, must adhere to strict guidelines when using social networks. That may change, however. New research from McCann World Group indicates that consumers largely trust the pharma industry online. It’s the personal reputation and financial threats that concern consumers with respect to privacy point.

[Sources: Friends and family top health influencers, says survey. Mmm​-online​.com. 12 Oct. 2011. Web. 2 Nov. 2011; Arnold, Matthew. Consumers May be Savvier. Mmm​-online​.com. 27 Oct. 2011. Web. 2 Nov. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.