Why consumer healthcare is NEVER, EVER, EVER going to be quite like FMCG…

Muzeable Thinking No. 8 posted by Tim Brooks 8th April 2013

A very brief bit of Muzeable Thinking discussing why healthcare marketing needs to think differently sometimes. This requires deeper and more difficult thinking… which is why we avoid it sometimes. It also owes an underlying nod to some of the excellent work on behavioural economics. We will no doubt return to this in more detail in the future.

  • Brands/businesses often assume that if they can develop a great concept/claim and some ‘good’ advertising or marketing that they will be successful… obviously, these things are critical, but sometimes they are the right answers to the wrong questions.
    • Often in healthcare – where categories tend to have low penetration, minimal levels of consumer engagement [except at the actual point of ‘suffering’] and often intermittent or occasional need then the real challenge is about changing or creating new consumer behaviour[s], not ‘selling’ something i.e. the thing you have to sell!
    • This is hard! It is different from finding new persuasive communications or innovation aimed at building a ‘better mousetrap.’ Both of these will help, but they will not unlock the category unless you change the prevailing behaviours.
    • This is fundamentally about human nature and is at the heart of the often brilliant contribution made to marketing by behavioural economics…
    • We learned this reality through making mistakes and repeated acts of naivety. This has changed our approach. We no longer just focus on finding category/brand insight, but in understanding the REALITY of behaviour and adjacent behaviours and what really needs to change so we can win.
    • Obvious, but truth is we see more evidence of healthcare companies trying to bend their world to fit the current FMCG brand and marketing models rather than trying to really build a more specific model to match their specific needs. We passionately believe that the FMCG approach will never quite work in healthcare.
    • Too often when you talk to consumers about innovation or messaging consumers will give positive feedback on concepts [making you believe we have a ‘winner’] and then post launch they don’t actually change their behaviours or actually buy your shiny new offering. Or at least, rarely more than once! This is true of much NPD, but especially pertinent in health, because what most consumers actually want is an impossible to provide magic bullet that allows them to keep old behaviours in place. Their positive response to the ideas is genuine, but usually delusional!
    • Who would not respond positively to a concept that explains & educates and then delivers a benefit that will enhance or help you or your family’s health and well-being, Who would not imagine that they would embrace this sensible behavior  – e.g. weight loss concepts. The challenge; the art is to better define the barriers to penetration – these will usually work above and beyond the CATEGORY RHETORIC [which, as we are always saying, you need to understand too] – before locking down concepts…  THIS IS WHY WELLNESS IS EVERWHERE, HOLISTIC & DIFFICULT.
    • Our long experience in consumer healthcare makes us believe that most FMCG research approaches, innovation approaches and brand development inputs… will only deliver half the required truth. We have to go broader [into life, as the context] and more specifically [into the reality of the change we are asking for] in order to deliver stuff that sticks. Even then expect it to be a long haul.
    • To put it another way FMCG does many things brilliantly and one of its core skills is to reduce the category to a value added ‘transaction’ – a benefit in a box. The ability of great brands and innovation to own and then deliver against and improve on this promise makes it a repeatable transaction… one we can still be loyal too. We can’t think of many healthcare situations that consumers REALLY see as transactional – a headache perhaps… but even that is part of a continuum [i.e. it has a cause related to other behaviours]. The benefit in the box is only ever PART of the need.
    • So, let’s get beyond the attitudinal and understanding questions and explore the reality behind the consumers lives and behaviours. This way we can deliver more than just a product message, an innovation concept or me-too claims we can deliver a framework for behavioural, and then, category change.
    • We bet that if you do this it will:
    1. quickly become a longer term sell/relationship approach
    2. involve defining innovation BEYOND the product in a box and involving service and soft stuff.

Referencing our blog of a few weeks back [07/12/12 http://www.muzeable.com/muzeable-thinking/have-you-worked-out-how-to-make-your-brand-an-aggregator-brand-youd-better]  it might well require healthcare brands to be Aggregator Brands.



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