Sunday, July 5, 2009

Target marketing, THE YOOBOT WAY!


Target marketing pays, because you do not work with a large market spend budget. You work with imagination and creativity to get the best bang for the marketing buck. Some of the best targeted marketing campaigns come from nonprofit organizations. There are two reasons for this -

a) marketing gets a shoestring budget
b) people there work for key result areas - with a passion, with philosophy, a commitment not linked to salary, and social drive.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is an example of such a charity that works and funds research, education, and life saving equipment for heart patients. Their main goal is to help heart patients. The target segment of BHF is very clear. The BHF has produced many creative communication campaigns to highlight the importance of heart care.

Their latest captivating and successful campaign is the Yoobot game as part of the food4thought campaign. The interesting goal of this game is to empower kids with thoughts that encourage them to take responsibility of their health. The Yoobot game is a preventive campaign against childhood obesity that plagues modern Western societies. The target segment of this game are children of 11 to 13 years. Yoobots are digital characters created in a game by children who play this game. The children feed their Yoobots with food of their choice, watch it grow, and ultimately based on what they feed, the Yoobot acquires body weight and other characteristics. It gives an idea of how obese Yoobots are more susceptible to heart disease in a very subtle and game like manner. This gives children a first hand feel of what food does to bodies. In one year's time, more than 1 million (10 lakhs) Yoobots have been created. Surveys have revealed that it has enlightened kids on obesity and made them more responsible about eating habits.

It is interesting to note that the target age of the Yoobot game, is 11 to 13, this is the age when children start to make their independent decisions. What a wonderful approach to engage target markets with concepts that inspire, are fun, and obtain desired behaviors without appearing educative. That is target marketing at its best!!

The BHF has also produced other TV advertising campaigns that have delivered the message with sharpness and alacrity. 'DOUBT KILLS' TV campaign was about creating awareness of heart attack. In the initial phase, heart attack was portrayed as a pain that is similar to a belt tightly strapped to the chest. Later, when the desired results of the campaign were not reflected in marketing surveys, BHF started to highlight other symptoms of heart attacks like nausea and vomiting. The idea was to prevent complacency because patients may feel it is indigestion. In fact, time to death due to untreated heart attack is 2 hours. The DOUBT KILLS campaign was then very successful.

Both of the above campaigns have got a thumbs up by the jury of the Marketing Society Awards for Excellence 2009 and BHF has won a Marketing Society award for their Yoobot concept.

Target marketing involves identification of a target market and understanding this segment. The target market may be a geographic segment, demographic segment, or psychographic segment (based on lifestyle). Then based on the target market definition and its characteristics, suitable marketing communication inputs and other activities are designed for best business results.

Target marketing is applied in Indian Pharma marketing by some marketers. Many market launches and product promotional campaigns are being designed for target markets (eg. certain geographic markets, or psychographic markets or demographic markets). This is because focusing most resources to a defined target audience makes the marketing process more efficient, controllable, and helps in quick product establishment due to better follow-up with key prescribers (in case of new product launches). For eg., Cpink a haematinic brand followed up for prescriptions with key obstetric and gynecologic doctors during the launch phase, concentrating powerful resources on them, rather than go for a large geographic segment. Hence, although the market penetration of Cpink is not too high, yet the brand Cpink enjoys good brand sales. The concept of target pharma marketing seems to have a lot of relevance in contemporary times as new product launches have become costly and dicey. Mass prescription marketing is a costly process. Sun Pharma has traditionally been a target market operator. Sun Pharma concentrates on the specialist segments rather than GP segment. This is a demographic cum psychographic target marketing concept.

While one can get a high value through target marketing in pharma, the pitfall is that by depending on certain target segments, the market is narrow and is controlled by the needs, wants, demands, whims and fancies of the prescribers of the target market segment. The company hence, needs to be a good negotiator to operate in narrow target prescriber segments as prescribing doctors in such segments, can call the shots and choices are few for the pharmaceutical marketer.

So the choice of target prescriber segment marketing or mass prescriber segment marketing or OTX (over-the-counter plus prescription) marketing depends on the pharma marketer's philosophy, policies, product profile, and ability to titrate to prescriber requirements with speed.

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