Medication Marketers to Focus on Pill Color and Shape

Marketers have long known that a medication’s color and shape can sway consumer choice. Consumers form a bond with medications that pillsthey believe are helping them and they are suspicious when pills suddenly come in a different color or size.  These beliefs have implications for marketers who may be updating an existing medication or rolling out generic brands.

According to an Archives of Internal Medicine study, consumers don’t just attach themselves to the benefits they’re receiving from a specific prescription medicine. They also identify with the shape and color of the pill. This attachment is so strong that, if consumers are given a bottle of pills with a different shape and color,  they often stop taking the medicine. This behavior develops despite consumers being told that this is the same medication.

The development of generic brand medicines further complicates the issue. Manufacturers don’t want to roll out a pill that looks exactly like the branded version because of patent problems. But patients may not take the less expensive medicine consistently, believing it is not as effective because it is a different color.

The medical condition reviewed in this study was epilepsy. Patients know they must take medications consistently and have been trained to question any change in their medications. When a manufacturer plans to roll out a generic medication or a new formula for an existing drug, detailed drug information should be provided to prescribing doctors, pharmacists and patients as part of the marketing campaign in order to ensure continued compliance and to reduce resistance to ordering and taking these pills.

To learn more Pharmaceutical Advertising Responders, check out the Audience Interests & Intent report available on the Research Store at ad​-ology​.com.

[Source: Weinstein, Deborah. Study says color and shape. Mmm​-online​.com. 3 Jan. 2013. Web. 18 Jan. 2013] 
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.