Would it work for pharma? Yes, it just might!

I spent many years of my career in the CPG sector, promoting brands that ran the gamut from breakfast cereals to packaged mac ‘n cheese to haircare.  I even did a stint supporting our four-legged “consumers”, creating promotional events for numerous pet food products.

cheesasaurusBeing part of the marketing team for some of those brands gave me the opportunity to play a role in some noteworthy campaigns.  As proof of that, a shelf of a storage closet at my home is like a trip down memory lane.  A jovial-looking Cap’n Crunch doll sits there, perhaps expecting me to come up with his next back-of-the-cereal-box promotion.  Standing tall next to him is a ceramic cookie jar in the shape of the venerable circular Quaker Oats box.  And then there’s the “Cheeseasaurus Rex” bowl and utensil set left over from a Kraft Mac & Cheese mail-in promotion….yes, kids actually MAILED IN their proofs-of-purchase and waited for their reward!  There were no codes to scan on the boxes and no instantly-downloadable games.

But I collected more than a few pieces of memorabilia from those days in other industries.  I also accumulated quite a lot of knowledge and experience. Tactics have definitely changed over the years; there is no doubt about that.  But the basic tenets of consumer marketing remain fairly unchanged –Know your audience, understand their needs, and deliver information and incentives based on those needs.  And that goes for pharma direct-to-consumer marketing, too, even though the DTC world, with its restrictions and limitations, is admittedly much more challenging.  Nevertheless, there is significant inspiration to be found in other sectors.

PM360 recently took a novel approach to this topic with a special feature answering the question “Could This Work for Pharma?”  Marketers with outside-the-industry experience commented on their marketing success stories and the potential applications to pharma.  Healthcare marketers were also invited to get in on the action by addressing some of their favorite non-pharma campaigns and what pharma could learn from them.  The result was a wonderful compilation of diverse insights from CPG, retail, beauty, and other industries.  One person commented on the Procter & Gamble Summer Olympics “Thank you, Mom” initiative, noting that a campaign with a similar theme, with some strategic tweaks, could be very successful for pharma companies.  Another contributor, an ad agency account director, talked about the fast and engaging cooking videos that abound on Facebook.  She suggested that pharma could leverage a similar type of video format to more effectively catch the attention of patients and healthcare providers.

picture1I also read with interest the perspectives of Amy Smith, who had previously held sales strategy and shopper marketing roles at Pfizer, J&J, and Novartis Consumer Groups as well as at CPG companies.  She noted that “Marketing works when it’s relevant to consumers’ lives, fulfills their needs and desires, and connects emotionally.”  She viewed Shopper Marketing as a key part of these strategies, pointing out that the store is an ideal marketing canvas and a critical touchpoint to reach and influence shoppers, and that relevance and value are the main ingredients to optimize shopper engagement and conversion.

The parallels between the “shopper marketing” concept and our own Solutions at the Shelf™ program are fairly striking.


Ms. Smith mentioned the importance of targeting and integrating in-store efforts with other campaign components – both major elements of our value proposition.  Perhaps most relevant is her contention that providing a “solution” is critical.  It is not just about the product, it’s about the value it brings.  That’s definitely something that pharma marketers in particular need to continually keep in mind.  Pharma brand managers have the responsibility to deliver high-quality, relevant messages that help consumers sort through today’s health noise.  The retail pharmacy provides a platform to make that happen.

While my days of promoting shampoo and cereal are long in the past, those experiences still hold relevance for me in my marketing role here at Rx EDGE.   No matter what industry you work in, it’s still about delivering powerful messages in a way that will cause people to take action.  Pharma marketers can’t give away the types of fun promotional products that populate my closet (or any promotional products for that matter!).  But by looking outside and exploring now and then, they can find some fresh ideas and possibly a springboard for a whole new campaign. 

And now, I think I’ll have some Kraft Mac & Cheese for lunch…!