Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tom and Jerry Pharma Marketing


It is really getting hot ... here in pharma marketing. There were those golden days where pharma companies used to invent a nice drug, appoint medical representatives (MRs) who would go to clinics, the doctors would welcome their presence. In these clinics the MRs would provide a detailing talk with the help of communication aids, give literatures of the clinical data, some samples for the doctor to try out the medication on suitable patients, and this exercise would create prescriptions to ensure sales of the pharma product. As a form of thanksgiving, MRs would provide doctors with small clinically relevant gifts. They were the warm sunny days of pharma marketing.

Slowly however, things got a little more complex with time ... doctors would indirectly require more inducements for prescriptions, and MRs would provide them, to increase sales and earn more incentives.

With time, more companies entered in to the lucrative pharma business and the rat race got more fierce. Doctors would get pampered with cash, gifts, sponsorships to medical conferences and other things and the pharma marketing game became a lot more fiercer. The warm sunny days of pharma marketing gave way to hectic stress filled days of hot oven pharma marketing.

Sales and marketing pressure became the order of the day in pharma companies. Earlier, it was a patronizing atmosphere in pharma companies and at clinics. Managers would patronize their MRs, doctors would patronize MRs and so on. Today, it is a game of pressure tactics, negotiations, inducements and just about everything to generate prescriptions, and sales.

Pfizer: in an unenviable position

The above pharma marketing picture is reflected in La-affaire-Pfizer. Just imagine the predicament of Pfizer. On one hand, there is a huge pressure to maintain the topline and bottomline. On the other hand, the new drug R & D pipeline shows no promise of a blockbuster drug and the pharma market gets commoditized with severe competitive pressures.

Now, if Pfizer does not shore up sales, it will lose its pole position in the global pharma firmament. There is, after all, a lot at stake - shareholder value, share price value, profits, sales, its position as the numero uno pharma company, its reputation, and so on.

In this backdrop, Pfizer did the most logical thing - upped its sales generating tactics. Pfizer focused on strengthening its sales of promising products (like Bextra the withdrawn valdecoxib brand,Geodon (antipsychotic - ziprasidone HCl), Zycox (linezolid) and Lyrica (pregabalin)), and Pfizer even went in to off-label promotion and special services to doctors (kickbacks), which were risky from the legal point of things.

However, Pfizer did it with courage because it still had a mindset of operating in a patronizing atmosphere. BUT LITTLE DID PFIZER REALIZE, THE RULES OF THE GAME HAD CHANGED ...

Whistleblowers took advantage

Whistleblowing is an interesting phenomenon. Whistleblowers are persons who raise concerns about wrongdoings in an organization. Normally, whistleblowers are part of the organization. Whistleblowers voice their concern internally or externally and may take their complaints to legal authorities of the wrongdoings in the organization. If whistleblowers are proved right, the organization pays for it - in terms of criminal fees and also sees its reputation fall. Whistleblowers are not only pharmaceutical personnel, the tobacco industry too has seen a famous whistleblower (Jeffery Wigand). There are governmental and nongovernmental whistleblowers (many of them Indian) too.

This is exactly what happened in La-affaire-Pfizer. Due to wrongdoings of Pfizer in its marketing activities, 6 whistleblowers were paid by Govt. of USA a total of 102 million USD. John Kopchinski got the lion's share of 51.5 milion USD. The other whistleblowers who earned millions include Stefan Kruszewski (29 million USD), Ronald Rainero (9.3 million USD), Glenn DeMott (7.4 million USD), Dana Spencer (2.7 million USD), and Blair Collins (23.54 million USD). Pfizer's marketing activities has been dubbed fraudulent marketing. Pfizer's financial damage due to this event is 2.3 billion USD to resolve the criminal and civil healthcare liability. Of course, it has also damaged Pfizer's reputation too. That is incalculable.


Pharma marketing is entering in to a new era of a cat and mouse game. IT IS THE ERA OF TOM AND JERRY MARKETING. Pfizer's historic fine of 2.3 billion USD is a watershed event in the history of pharma marketing. It is a major wake-up call to pharma marketers. Gone are the patronizing days in pharma marketing. There is nothing funny about TOM AND JERRY MARKETING. It is in fact painful to the pharma marketer.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that we may even start having doctors acting as whistleblowers, and others who want to point out wrong doings and make a fast buck (AFTER ALL WHO IS PERFECT? IT IS EASY TO POINT OUT WRONG DOINGS AND PUNISH, BUT IT IS DIFFICULT TO TAKE RISKS TO ACHIEVE AN OBJECTIVE.).

Risks in pharma marketing

The whistleblowing event mirrors the minefields in pharma marketing. Step on a legal mine, even accidentally, and BOOM it goes on the face of the pharma marketer. It is time to put processes above targets. The race for numbers is fraught with risks. Processes in marketing should be robust and bullet proofed. Nos. can wait, there is no point in being No. 1 in the pharma market if you have to cough up billions of dollars AS FINE and get your reputation tainted. In business, reputation is paramount. Goodwill of a concern, if lost, causes incalculable damage. Today, in trader language, Pfizer is only a sophisticated PCD (propaganda cum distribution) company. In India, we have plenty of PCD companies. They cater to every whim and fancy of doctors to gain prescriptions and sales. So it is time to work out processes in pharma marketing that will bullet proof the organization from the legal mine fields.

Pfizer: the master marketer

Pfizer's corporate USP is their marketing ability. If one goes to the crux of Pfizer's controversial marketing tactics one realizes that they once again proved that they (Pfizer) are masters of marketing. All along in their controversial marketing activities, Pfizer positioned Bextra for acute pain, surgical pain, and other unapproved uses, created sales materials and messages, to promote Bextra for these uses, commissioned market research to test its sales materials, confirmed these unapproved messages and allowed the promotion of Bextra for these purposes to continue. So what this indicates is that all the kickbacks and other activities were done to strengthen MESSAGING. Exactly, this is what brings in business. Messaging. This is what Pfizer the master marketer did. It focused on messaging (kickbacks, gifts etc were used to create the platform for messaging). That is the mastery of Pfizer. Its power in the market is not from its gifts, or kickbacks - IT COMES FROM ITS POWER OF MESSAGING. Master marketers are great at messaging. Pity, the messaging tactics backfired for Pfizer in this case.

Pfizer is not really to blame

Pfizer has acted as a professional marketer. One has to realize that in pharma business, pharma marketers message to informed target customers ie., doctors. It is different from consumer marketing, where messaging is done to ignorant customers. Doctors, on the other hand are educated and informed customers. They have the ability to discern, and they are at a liberty to reject messages. Of course, Pfizer the master marketer should take some rap for overzealous marketing, but not so much.

In the case of kickbacks, once again there is no purpose in merely rapping the provider of kickbacks. In fact, the taker of the kickbacks is at greater fault. If Pfizer is guilty of providing kickbacks to doctors, then why are the concerned doctors not booked for taking the kickbacks? Why is the PHARMA MARKETER PILLORIED? The doctor is equally guilty. The doctor who takes kickbacks is no angel!!

This point needs to be addressed in an emergency mode. Doctors guilty of taking kickbacks should be brought to book. They are the ones who patronize kickbacks from pharma companies. If a Govt. official takes a bribe, the Govt. official is arrested. Not the giver of the bribe. In the same way, the doctor who gets pecuniary and other benefits from pharma companies is more guilty of a crime against his patients than the pharma company.

A case for legal off-label product promotion

This is the age of internet and consumer led conversations. The law against off-label pharma product promotion is stone age, preinternet. It is an outdated thought to disallow off-label pharma product promotion. Suitable changes in the system ought to be made to permit valid off-label pharma product promotion. Regulation is fine. But over-regulation is stifling. If fear stalks marketing activities, creativity will be suffocated. When creative business is not permitted, progress is halted. Society suffers. In this web 2.0 era where a nobody like me can comment freely through this blog on La-affaire-Pfizer, a valid off-label pharma product promotion should be permitted, in the best interests of the modern day information society.

There are many aspects to La-affaire-Pfizer. It is easy to call it Pfizergate. It is nice to watch a formidable Goliath take a beating. But this event of La-affaire-Pfizer has many more ramifications to the PHARMA MARKETER COMMUNITY. ALL PHARMA MARKETERS SHOULD JOIN HANDS COMMUNICATE, COLLABORATE, AND RAISE VALID POINTS THAT WILL IMPROVE THE ENVIRONMENT OF PHARMA MARKETING. It is not good to market pharma products with an eye on one's back. There is no fun in pharma marketing if you are policed and in a cat and mouse game. Tom and Jerry is funny to watch, but in marketing it is no fun. Tom and Jerry marketing is most painful.

If Pfizer is trying to muzzle all conversations about La-affaire-Pfizer, thinking it is negative press, well then, it is doing more harm than good. Pfizer should use this event to stir up open debates on the state of pharma marketing today. Pfizer should get on with life, join hands & unite all pharma marketers to create a more open, trusting and transparent pharma marketing field. La-affaire-Pfizer is an invitation event for pharma marketers to join hands, address common issues, and strengthen themselves. No point, sweeping issues under the carpet.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Leaks in pharma marketing


Carry on doctor!

Pharma marketers lionize doctors. Prescription flow is the bread and butter of pharma marketers. To engage prospects and prescribing doctors, pharma marketers look at various formats of messaging. The MR too puts on his charms and persuasively feeds the doctor's senses - literally by sponsoring lunches and figuratively, by providing clinical data literatures. Small freebies, mega gifts and sponsorships - particularly to medical conferences is the icing on the promotional cake! Doctors like being lionized by pharma professionals.

The impasse: With market spends going northwards day-by-day (marketing budgets never come down do they?!) it is increasingly difficult to accurately judge which item of the marketing and promotional mix is providing the best bang for the marketing buck. Identifying the most powerful market-mix elements and investing most on the best options will certainly plug the leaks in pharma marketing.

MRs the biggest marketing investment

MRs (medical representatives) get a lot of the market spend. Their salaries, incentives, and expense reimbursements take a lot of the marketing moolah. Added to this are the doctor oriented spends through MRs. These include monies invested for samples, print inputs, gifts (small and big), and specific sponsorships. These items are provided by MRs to doctors based on company guidelines and business requirements. So essentially, the product per se takes the back seat. It is the marketing effort and resources that take up a lot of marketing monies. Without intelligent market spends, the product inevitably has a lack luster market performance. So the market spend through MRs to doctors and chemists is a necessary millstone round the company's neck!

Let us say, the company allots 25 units samples for a product/MR. Now is this less or more? If the samples are stopped will it increase or decrease the sales of the product? These type of nagging questions do not have clear cut answers. And hence, there are a lot of marketing leaks.

There is one more conundrum: typically, some MRs are heavy samplers and others get the business without much sampling. Yet each MR gets the same aliquot of samples. So how do you identify and judge the marketing leaks?

Certain areas of India are sample oriented, others - gift oriented, and still others require both. How to identify the right marketing cocktail to ensure that marketing leaks are minimal?

Distribution leaks

The penetration of products into the nook and corner of the target market is the key to product success. Products move from stockists (wholesellers) to retailers; however, products also move from the wholeseller to sub-stockists or even to unlicensed hawkers, and then on to retailers or dispensing doctors. Even these market forces (sub-stockists and hawkers) influence market penetration. So does one classify the sub-stockists and hawkers as leaks in the distribution process? Normally, they are valid marketing leaks!!

Schemes (bonus offers or free goods on purchase of a certain quantity of goods) on pharma products are a vibrant dimension of the commoditized pharma marketplace today. Schemes are an addiction. They can take product sales upwards, remove the schemes - the sales can drop like a stone in water. So where do you strike the balance? Should the corporate honcho summarily dismiss schemes as a massive leak in the distribution activity or should he identify it as a strategic investment for market penetration?

Leaks in messaging

Let us say the product manager (PM) creates a 10 sentence visual aid page for a product. During the briefing session to the MRs, the PM lays emphasis on 5 sentences. During the practice session, the MR focuses on 3 sentences, and finally on the first call with the new visual aid page, the MR in his very brief encounter with the doctor focuses on 1 sentence and tries to detail the second sentence. During his subsequent calls, the MR manages to only say the brand name and the pay off or tagline sentence. Finally, as the visual aid gets worn out, the MR stops detailing all the visual aid pages and randomly shows one visual aid page based on the time available and the target focus product. So do we conclude that the visual aid creation activity and all the investment to create the visual aid was a waste or a marketing leak?

When a MR gets a bunch of leave behind literatures, out of the 50 pieces, he uses only 28 and the rest are sort of discarded (he may even give some to his young niece). So should the firman be that leave behind literatures are an expensive fancy and to curb expenses - let us reduce the literatures and also the nos. given? This way it is hoped that the marketing leaks in messaging inputs are plugged. Now, is this a sagacious approach?

Where is the ROI?

During a lunch break, the finance genius cum finance departmental head sits across the table with the marketing head and asks him with bewilderment and justified consternation, "If each MR gets Rs. 150 worth of samples of a product, should he not get atleast Rs. 1500/- of business for the product?" And the finance head continues "There is that guy in place XXX who gets Rs. 15000/- worth of business for the product A with samples worth Rs. 150/-". "Why?" he thunders, chewing on a chicken kabab. Is the finance head right in identifying the tasty morsels of so- called marketing leaks (?) that can be plugged? After all the finance whiz has to ensure financial discipline. Nothing is free. There are no free lunches (or free kababs for that matter)!

WHITHER DO WE GO TO IDENTIFY AND PLUG THE MARKETING LEAKS? Hey, wait a minute, do we all agree, first of all that there are marketing leaks, or are they all necessary strategic investments?

The mind game begins

Baby, marketing is a game of PERCEPTIONS. The cup is half - full and/or half - empty. What goes up should come down. In life, the full circle phenomenon is the complete truth.

What is this full circle phenomenon?

An example of the full circle phenomenon is this: let us say a guy is a strict veggie, nonsmoker and teetotaler. Slowly, he starts breaking from this mould. He begins occassionally dabbling in nonveg foods, tobaccoism, and alcoholic beverages. Then the frequency increases and it starts peaking. At its peak, the guy starts thinking of altering his lifestyle and starts reducing intake. Finally, after some more time he tends to come back or atleast wants to come back to where he started from.

Let us say, a company starts upping the market spend slowly, then it peaks, the company then tries to curb and come back to a lower position.

It is all about balance.

When a company starts getting the general feeling that market spend is high, perceived marketing leaks are plugged to try and get a balance. Each stakeholder has his own agenda in creating a positive perception about the marketing strategies, inputs, and approaches. In marketing it is very difficult to get the right picture, because each element of the marketing mix does its bit in creating the business result. It is difficult to define a perfect marketing leak. Sponsorship of a stall in a medical conference is a marketing leak to some marketers, but to some it is an opportunity to prospect, convert doctors, and message powerfully.

Marketing is the only field of business activity where apparent leaks can be converted into opportunities that create customers, and increase sales revenues. True marketers do not visualize leaks they see opportunities, and work on how to create customers, retain customers and increase sales. through the marketing leaky hole!

If marketers start thinking of leaks, creativity gets bogged down, and it is the deathknell of marketing. There are no marketing leaks, only marketing opportunities.
Oh yes, there should be budget and there has to be a framework to work on the marketing approaches, otherwise it creates imbalances.

The thumb rule is that marketing activities should be a mix of activities that provide short-term results, medium term results, and long term results. This will automatically ensure that alleged marketing leaks are not there.

UP(in India they market an (in)famous cough syrup called Corex) 1.3 billion USD for misbranding and illegal kickbacks to doctors - this is a massive criminal fine. The total fine to be paid by Pfizer is as is now well known 2.3 billion USD (that is one third of the annual retail Indian pharma market in Indian rupees!). And mind you the massive criminal fine payment by Pfizer has happened because of a whistle blower Pfizer sales representative. The sales representative involved was John Kopchinski who fought legally for six years with Pfizer, and in the process has gotton himself 51.5 million USD through his victory. NOW THAT IS A MASSIVE MARKETING LEAK!!

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The bottomline: create a budget and work on the apparent leak (because it is actually an opportunity). Work with a sense of balance towards short term objectives, medium term goals, and strategic long term goals. There will be no sense of marketing leaks.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The coming OTC boom in Pharma India




OTC in pharma industry parlance stands for over-the-counter (mainly with reference to drugs). It refers to the purchase/sale of drugs across the counter without prescriptions. In fact, in India every pharma product market is OTC. You can orally ask for any product and buy it across the counter. Abroad in Europe and America there are prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs. The prescription drugs are strictly sold only on showing the prescription (Rx). In fact, in some countries once the products are dispensed as per Rx, a seal is put on it to indicate that the "Rx has been filled". If the patient goes in for refill of the Rx, the pharmacist does it only if it is legally permissible; again a seal or stamp is put on the Rx to indicate that the Rx has been filled once again. But in India, such procedures are not strictly followed. Hence, in a way, the Indian retail pharma market is OTC - or rather it is better to call it OTX (combination of OTC and Rx).

Drug consumption and marketing

It is said marketing is business and business is marketing! This saying only highlights the importance of marketing. When customer conversions are taking place through the messaging and the value delivery process, consumption of the marketed product increases. Messaging in pharma takes place chiefly through in-clinic product promotion by MRs (medical representatives) to doctors. Pharmaceutical messaging processes also seek to strengthen the word-of-mouth for pharma products between doctors, through various forums where doctors meet and discuss clinical and medical matters. Hence, in-stall promotion (where MRs promote pharma products to doctors through stalls at medical conferences) and CME (continuing medical education) event based promotion also are very important. 'Marketing messaging' also takes place to patients through patient information leaflets and during meetings where doctors talk to their patients collectively ('patient seminars' where expert personnel give talks on disease management and pharma companies reinforce use of products). Hence, marketing activity is the core of pharma businesses.

Marketing and the media

Messaging takes place through media. The carriers of messages are most vital for the messaging processes. The MR based pharma product promotion model is age old, time-tested and proven. The MR is the relationship and event manager between pharma company and doctors, the message carrier, and channel manager (managing relationships with chemists and stockists). This MR based marketing model is of the pre-internet and pre-electronic media period. Particularly, in the late 1960s when the first MNC MRs made their way in to the Indian pharma market, even the print media had limited penetration. Literacy was very low too. Today, the penetration of print media is much better but is competitively inhibited by the internet and electronic media.

Earlier if the newspaper did not come to the doorstep in the morning one would get information hunger pangs
!! Now - information hunger pangs for newspapers are milder. Many a times, people do not get time to read the newspaper in mornings, yet they are well informed, thanks to the breakfast TV programs. Recently, most people were informed that Obama had won the Nobel prize for Peace much - much before the newspapers carried the news (only the next morning). By about 3.00 pm many people had come to know about Obama winning the Nobel prize (office goers got to know through internet and radio, and the ones at home and travellers came to know from word-of-mouth, TV and radio), while newspapers carried this news the next day morning (as the headlines).

Internet (which can be accessed through mobile phones too) and electronic media are instant and prompt in terms of messaging. Messages are also consumed much faster and the audiovisual nature of these media makes customer engagement much better compared to print media products. Messaging through internet and electronic media can be done to prospects directly bypassing the sales personnel and strengthening the messaging process done by sales personnel. In the context of internet and electronic media penetration, it is inevitable that the role of front line pharma personnel will slowly evolve to being more of relationship managers, event managers (organizing in-stall events in medical conferences), clinical experience facilitators and managers, channel managers (managing relationships with chemists, stockists, institutional buyers, and dispensing doctors); and, of course, reinforcing the product and brand messaging.

Engaging customers through internet, mobile messaging and electronic media

In face-to-face selling and messaging experiences there are many subjective and relationship aspects that influence the encounter. In internet and electronic media based messaging processes, such subjective influences can be curbed. These media also have the advantage of gaining the full attention of the doctor. Furthermore, the doctor can receive the message during his free time or when he is at leisure to gain the messages. Distraction of doctors, which is a major obstacle in communication between MR and doctor can be avoided. MR based messaging is heavily based on the behavior of the MR. Electronic media, mobile and internet based messaging are not sender behavior based activities.

The tranche of messaging options are ever-increasing

Messaging is the core of marketing activity. Without value delivery and communication in today's world, product consumption is not assured. For value delivery and messaging, the tranche of options are increasing. It is not based on MRs alone. Marketing investments inevitably have to be made on electronic media and internet, which are fast becoming the important avenues of message consumption. Pharma messaging is not inured to this trend.

Messaging and OTC pharma market

The growth of electronic media and internet is playing host to messaging on various health related matters. OTC pharma product marketers are naturally participating in internet and electronic media. When possible, Rx pharma product marketers will also increase involvement in this trend of using internet, mobile and electronic media messaging platforms. This is inevitable. When messaging increases automatically, brand registration and brand recall will increase.

Let us say, a 20 year lady gets bombarded by messages about cosmeceuticals and cosmetic therapies. It is only human that she will get influenced by it and start consuming the marketed product. Get the price right and put the messaging processes in place - markets for the brands will get built. Of course, the dicey matter is how long will it take for the market and trust to get built. That is the hazard of marketing activity. Most OTC marketing activities require stamina and intelligent messaging to engage target audiences beneficially and economically (for the marketer).

Similarly the nonprint media is abuzz with talks on lifestyle diseases. OTC healthcare product marketers are cashing on this buzz. There is improved sales of skincare products, general health, cardiovascular health, respiratory products, and other lifestyle prophylactic (preventive and wellness) products. AN IMPORTANT INDICATOR OF THIS OTC BOOM TREND IS THE FACT THAT FOR RANBAXY, REVITAL IS THE TOPMOST SELLING PRODUCT TODAY. Ranbaxy is following up on this success with launch of an OTC brand protein supplement named Revitalite. Taking a cue from this fact, Piramal Healthcare is improving OTC marketing focus on its brand Superactive.

The growth of the healthcare OTC market is taking pharma, healthcare and other allied marketers by a storm. Mankind is diligently and surely stepping in to OTC healthcare markets through their brands of condoms, sanitary napkins, and artificial sweeteners. Britannia, a bakery and biscuit marketer, uses the health platform emphatically to improve business results. Many regional and local marketers are stepping up their product messaging - particularly the Ayurvedic products (as they can be promoted OTC).

The boom in Indian OTC healthcare market is directly proportional to the growth of mobile, internet, and electronic media in Indian society. The boom has just started. The best picture is yet to come. OTC healthcare in India is where traditional pharma market was in the early 1970s. Fast clipping growth of OTC healthcare brands will continue and increase, thanks to growth of the nonprint media, increased healthcare awareness and needs/wants, improved rural purchasing power, and rise in disposable incomes (urban and rural).

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Colors of marketing


Say marketing and you think of the 4 Ps: Product, Price, Promotion, and Placement (distribution and retailing). We also visualize marketing as a value delivery process, which includes messaging and generation of customer delight. Marketing also increases consumption of the marketed product or service by catalyzing the exchange process. Marketing is verily demand creation.

During marketing messaging much of the focus in pharma marketing is on the words after all we are dealing with clinical data and experiences. We also play on visuals since a picture conveys a thousand words! However, many-a-times our choice of colors in the visual aid or leave behind literature is automatic. We do not debate much on it. We see a logic and make the color choice or subjectively zero on a color choice.

Nevertheless, color is a very important consideration in marketing. Cipla has a family color for all its product lines - white. Himalaya had a characteristic yellow for all its product packaging and later on shifted to a green shade. This green is used in their marketing communication material and product packaging. Colors are also chosen on the basis of product nature. For instance, Glucart is a chondroprotective (a drug that protects the cartilage at freely movable joints like knee or hip joint) pharma brand with a color and design that goes along with the bone, which is the organ that Glucart protects. Choice of color is most often dictated by the product policy guidelines of the top management.

There are three choices in selecting colors:

a) Pick the color in line with the corporate color for all products (family color for all brands) - easy choice!
b) Colors are selected in line with the nature of the product and based on the use of various colors by competitor brands (requires research and application of mind!)
c) Colors are selected on the subjective choices made by the powers-to-be in the organization (convenient choice!). For eg., certain company managements believe that a particular purple or blue is very lucky for their company and hence, they try to blend the purple or blue along with other colors in the product packaging or communication material. Colors are also selected on the basis of the limitations or possibilities of the printing machine or packaging material.

Colors also have cultural implications. Green is favored when communicating to Islamic communities. White is the color of death in China but elsewhere it represents purity. Yellow is a sacred color in China but stands for sadness in Greece. Yellow and Red are very sacred colors among Hindu communities in India. However, globally the North American way of associating colors with emotions or thoughts are used in marketing and packaging materials, for eg., Red stands for passion, Yellow is cheer, Orange is warmth, Black is sophistication, Green is nature and cool etc. But one color is universally non-controversial - GOLD!! It invariably stands for something like a benchmark, premium and outstanding. Hence, the wordings THE GOLD STANDARD IN ANALGESIC THERAPY is used as a tagline when promoting products (here we apply it for an analgesic). Yellow, a related color, too is interesting - it invariably attracts. When you are driving and you see a yellow car or a person walking with a yellow dress, you invariably glance at the yellow color. Yellow is the color of attraction. Color based on cultural conditioning can attract or sometimes repel. Black is such a color. Some like it and some dislike the color. Cultural conditioning matters!!

Non-subjective aspects of color

Colors are no doubt very subjective, however there are non-subjective issues of color in marketing. For marketers, there are bright colors and soft colors. They can be used in pharma marketing for providing the right effect. Bright colors are the colors that help capture attention. For eg., a prescription pad that is bright red or dark green when placed on the doctor's table will certainly get more attention than a light or soft color. The chief use of color is to get the attention of the prospect. Brightly lit shops with a shade of bright color will certainly get the attention. It is like speaking aloud. Colors need to be played with intelligently - using a blend of bright and soft colors to maintain balance and soberness. Doctors will certainly not appreciate garish use of color in promotional items although they will be warm to creative promo inputs with an interesting combination of colors.

Contrast in colors too is vital. When dark blue lettering is used on milk white background it is obviously going to stand o-u-t. Contrast gives legibility and impels the viewer to see the wordings. Contrast is very important - red and yellow are very contrasting colors.

Complementary colors are those that go well along with each other. A color wheel is used to pick complementary colors. Marketers and designers use a color wheel to create color combinations. A color wheel provides the primary colors (ie., red, yellow and blue), secondary colors, and tertiary colors.

Brand associations and colors

Brands are covenants of trust. Brands are not just words, a brand represents all other associations like the feel, color, emotion, and other experiences through the senses. Think Red. And you think of Coca Cola. Think Blue. And you think of Pepsi. That is the power of brand association. Repeated use of color in association with a brand creates powerful imagery and brand recall.

Colors have affects on behavior of people. It is reported that use of red and orange in fast food restaurants makes people eat quickly and leave fast! For doctors and healthcare professionals there are some common clinical colors. They are white and blue. The word white coat is invariably used in association with a doctor. White coat hypertension means the rise in blood pressure of a patient when he sees a doctor in the white coat! Colors influence people and patient behavior!! Colors are powerful symbols in advertising and communication. For instance, the International Diabetes Federation has created a blue circle - the diabetes symbol to give a common identity. This is a powerful use of color to convey a message and provide symbolism. This will in turn provide cues to people. There is also a concept of color therapy where color is used as a therapy. This is an alternative energy medicine concept. Colors for behavior change and healing!

Colors in marketing are very important and the issue should not be brushed aside!! Thnks for reading this blogpost, please do scroll down and read all other blogposts, clicking on OLDER POSTS wherever required, kindly inform your acquaintances of this blog!