Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dopamine marketing!

I got the above exciting image from here.

Modern pharmaceutical brands succeed in the market for various reasons. One important process that contributes to this success is documenting, publishing, and communicating of clinical data. This is a very vital process that ensures brand visibility, repeat purchase, confidence building, and top-of-the-mind recall. Getting word-of-mouth between opinion builders and the target audience is crucial for marketing success. Only researching and producing clinical data, documenting, publishing, and communicating this data creates the buzz. This is the main reason for the success of modern medicine.

Contrast this to the traditional healthcare systems, clinical data is not robust, documenting, publishing, and communicating is certainly not as exciting as modern medicine.

Traditional medical and healthcare systems suffer from bad marketing - in particular, the process of documenting, publishing, and communicating. Traditional healthcare knowledge systems have suffered for several years, from ' publicity phobia and secrecy'. Ayurvedic pundits do not reveal the formulae of their medications. Traditional formulations are not as noted for clinical research, documentation, publication, and communication as modern allopathic medicine. The result is that the overall market building suffers. Hence, the traditional healthcare formulations will continue to be sidestream and niche markets, while modern medicines will dominate the healthcare industry as the mainstream medicine.

Life is expansion

If a field of knowldege should expand or grow, well then, it should be alive - there should be a lot of buzz. Not noise - but excitement of failures and successes. People should be talking of the various pros and cons of a therapeutic approach; all growing knowledge is interdisciplinary - if knowledge creators and researchers operate in physical and mental silos - the growth and buzz will certainly be muted. Marketing is crucial.

New heights of pharmaceutical marketing

Those were the good old days of pharma marketing (from the 1950s to 1970s) - researchers would come up with new formulations and give it to the marketing dept. to commercialize and create profits for the company.

However, from the 1990s onwards, this departmental approach to marketing of products is creating more product failures than product successes. It is the age of HYBRID MARKETING. Considerable time and efforts are being spent on PRELAUNCH ACTIVITY - lasting even for up to 5 years before the actual launch of the product. The concept of prelaunch activity reflects the RISE OF THE PROSUMER. The consumer is a part of the production system (hence, the word - PROSUMER). Select opinion builder doctors are nurtured in the marketplace along with drug developmental activities, to ensure that the commercialization activities after the actual launch of the drug or product, will show positive financial results (for the new product).

With such sophisticated marketing approaches of relationship building, documentation, publishing, and communicating it is not a surprise that modern medicines are so powerful in terms of efficacy, safety, supply, mind-share and market share.

The roots are the same - however, the commercialization and development approach is different

If we observe the growth of modern medicines, and traditional medicine science, it is evident that the roots are same, however, the growth, science based marketing, development, and research of modern medicines is unparalleled. This has created high value for the modern medicine industry.

Aspirin (acetyl salicylic acid) the chemical has its roots in the bark of the Willow tree. Most of the antibiotics have been sourced from natural sources. Artemesia annua (a plant) has given a new antimalarial drug - artemether. Penicillin is from the fungus Penicillium notatum. Streptomycin and Cephalosporin range of antibiotics owe their origin to natural sources. Even cardiovascular medicines like digitalis alkaloids for heart failure treatment have natural origins. William Withering the Birmingham physician extracted the active ingredient of foxgloves, DIGITALIS, in 1796. ACE inhibitors are hugely popular antihypertensives and heart failure management drugs. The discovery of ACE inhibitors too has natural serpentine origins.

Nature has provided the molecular templates for both - traditional healthcare and modern medicine marketers, however, modern medicine has taken a clue from these templates, manufactured new moieties, and provided superior well studied, documented, published, and well communicated data for these medicines. Thus, in spite of the adverse reaction possibilities of these potent modern medicines, their usage and consumption, is very high. The reason for the huge size of the market for modern medicines is CLINICAL STUDIES, DOCUMENTATION, PUBLISHING THE SAME, AND COMMUNICATING (through marketers and nonmarketers). This creates the buzz, and confidence, MARKET SIZE ... and yes, a SENSE OF ADDICTION!

What is addiction?

Addiction means obsession, compulsive consumption, or excessive psychological or physical dependence. This includes, cigarette smoking addiction, alcoholism, plastic surgery addiction, video game addiction, crime addiction, money addiction, work addiction, compulsive overeating, pornography addiction and so on. It refers to a person who has lost his or her sense of balance, has a compulsive behavior, and his or her behavior is directed by the substance or the factor of addiction.

Addiction and dopamine

Dopamine is an important neurochemical or neurotransmitter. Dopamine orchestrates motor behavior and reward-driven behavior besides its other physiological functions. This property of dopamine to play a role in reward-driven behavior is important for marketers. Drugs of abuse mimic the physiologic action of dopamine by increasing their firing rate or preventing the uptake of dopamine. So dopamine mediates natural or pathological reinforcement learning. When an unexpected reward is presented midbrain dopamine neurons are activated. Repeated rewards create learnings. When the reward is not given, the dopamine neurons are depressed. SO DOPAMINE PROVIDES A CHEMICAL TEACHING SIGNAL TO CREATE NEW ACQUIRED BEHAVIORS.

Dopamine is a part of the pleasure system of the brain that provides feelings of enjoyment to the person. This also creates reinforcements in the behavior and motivates a person to proactively perform certain tasks. Dopamine is involved in the behavior of prediction of reward, motivation, and thinking. Food, sex, aggression, and drugs cause release of dopamine - and hence, pleasure. Reward anticipation creates firing of dopamine in the brain. WHEN THE REWARD IS GREATER THAN EXPECTED, MORE DOPAMINE IS RELEASED, AND INCREASES THE DESIRE OR MOTIVATION FOR REWARD. Level of desire towards external objects is influenced by levels of dopamine.

So the bottomline is that when pharma marketers through their activities increase levels of dopamine in the mind of prospects towards a brand, you can expect more prescriptions and sales. Hence, pharma marketers will continue to charm their doctors, offer free food (free lunches or food gifts in the clinic), gifts, and other rewards, and motivational tools (like public speaking engagements, prizes and honors for scientific publications, publications with photos in newsletters and other media, and other forms of public acclaims). Pharma marketers of modern medicines are more adept at such marketing approaches than marketers of traditional healthcare products. Hence, modern medicine will continue to dominate.

Pharma marketers of modern medicines are more adept at using such dopamine boosting incentives for their salesmen. Hence, modern medicines will be pushed better than traditional healthcare products.

Ultimately, pleasure or reward driven behavior through boosting of dopamine levels in the brain will create more demand for the product. Pharma marketers are most adept with this form of DOPAMINE MARKETING. So when a pharma company sponsors a cocktail dinner with a great seminar on a pharma brand, please understand that we are working at a very deep level, at the level of neurotransmitter DOPAMINE.

When documentation, publication, and communication is done on a brand a most powerful form of marketing is done, to feed the information addiction of doctors. More the information input, more the pleasure, more the addiction to the information, more the buzz, and more the prescriptions! LONG LIVE DOPAMINE MARKETING!!

Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down and read all other blogposts, please click on OLDER POSTS if required, please inform your acquaintance of this blog. DO YOU FEEL PLEASURE ON READING THIS BLOGPOST?! HARK!! I AM WORKING ON YOUR DOPAMINE LEVELS!!

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