Someone Change The Channel

by Mark Sales | Nov 3, 2017

I'm sitting here listening to a Halloween music mix on the wonderful pacemaker app. What a great tool for creating mix tapes and sharing them with the world. It got me thinking about the channels in which I consume media and content, and how my choices affect the ways I'm targeted. I'm OK with programmatically purchased banner ads that link to what I just searched for on Amazon, but I still worry about what Alexa in our kitchen is actually listening out for.

Recently I saw a presentation from a Kantar colleague of mine, J. Walker Smith (@jwalkersmith), where he introduced the concept of Pivot To Passive, which explores the idea that as consumers we're no longer making all of our purchase decisions but instead it's our devices and their sensors and algorithms that's driving decision making. My mind started going off in all sorts of directions:

•             What does this mean for our traditional marketing principles?
•             Who are we marketing to now - machines, people, both?
•             Should we all just give up and let Amazon get on with it?

But more than anything else, it got me thinking about how this applies to channel management in healthcare. See, always come back to what you know.

I actually had this type of conversation at an industry round table discussion in Berlin a few weeks ago. The questions then were: how might Amazon disrupt Pharma, what might that look like, and what should we do as an industry? The general consensus seems to be that an Alexa in everyone's house, with a question such as, "Alexa, I've had a headache for 2 days," could go in a number of directions. In a world where there's an agreed OTC treatment protocol, a partnership with a pharmacy chain could deliver medication. Another world, where Echo Show in partnership with PushDoctor,  allows prescribing and takes us to a place where the direction of Healthcare is drastically altered. Here big pharma starts to become a manufacturer only, where drug development is no longer controlled by pharma but instead by the new patient interface.

Back in today's world, the main reason I was in Berlin was to hear about Multi-Channel Marketing and what it means for us today. Personally, I think we're a little way off the Amazon, Apple or Google disruption, and we need to get to a place where we can optimize the millions of dollars we spend on our current strategies and tactics. Our current multi-channel approaches for pharma are staid and in many cases just don't have an end point that makes business sense. My colleague, Eric Matthews presented a new way of thinking about this - why not focus on the idea that each and every touchpoint is an opportunity to drive brand equity. We know that brand equity is not only linked to sales but to future performance of the brand. You can read more about this in our recent Edge of Insight Report, which details that 25% of brand equity is attributed to recent touchpoints, of which most of this is still due to the sales force. As much as we've tried to get away from spending all those dollars on the ever evolving sales organization, the bottom line is that it's still effective!

My playlist is coming to an end with the playing of an even spookier version of Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells". It's funny how, with all of this new innovation, an introverted guy who spent most of 1972 hitting metal tubes should be the creator of content that we still listen to today.


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