The Two Kinds of Habits That Matter in Pharmaceutical Marketing

Ever since ThinkGen pioneered Habit EngineeringSM several years ago, we have been working with our clients to help them to understand physicians’ Treatment Habits. While most pharmaceutical marketers have typically focused on prescribing decisions and have used frameworks like Behavioral Economics to help them to develop “heuristicized” messages to influence these decisions, we have worked with numerous product teams to recognize that physicians’ treatment of most conditions is actually based on habits, NOT on decisions. AND. We call these treatment habits, not prescribing habits, because everything from differential diagnosis to patient follow-up is typically habitual. Thus, marketing success needs to be understood in terms of developing physician treatment habits that support the use of your product. And that typically involves replacing old habits as well as developing new ones. Changing behavior, not changing attitudes and perceptions, has thus become the new coin of the realm. 

As we move deeper into 2022, we are increasingly focusing our attention, and that of our clients, on Engagement Habits, i.e., the ways in which a physician interacts with pharmaceutical companies.  Whether a doctor sees pharmaceutical sales representatives in her office, participates in virtual detailing, attends promotional dinner meetings, etc. are again best thought of not as decisions, but as habits. As suggested in our previous blog post, the conduct of our On Doctors’ Minds2022SM study will help us to better understand these Engagement Habits. Gaining this understanding will be a key step in helping our clients to conduct successful “omnichannel marketing,” to which most pharmaceutical companies, especially post-pandemic, are now aspiring. 

Bottom Line. For companies about to launch a new pharmaceutical product, creating a matrix, with each target doctor’s Treatment Habits on one dimension and Engagement Habits on the other, will be essential for success. What preexisting prescribing habits will need to be modified, and what forms of engagement will need to be used to accomplish this goal, will be the key elements in the new world of “Matrix MarketingSM.”

Matrix MarketingSM???  Yup!!! I’ll tell you more about it in my next post. Be sure to sign up here so you don’t miss it.

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