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DTC Evidence – NIMBY Phenomenon

Practicing Evidence-Based Marketing for the last 8 years has allowed ROF to cultivate a collection of normative insights across a range of therapeutics that most biopharma marketers truly appreciate. After all of these years, I have found one discipline that remains resistant to normative evidence – DTC marketers. We like to call it the NIMBY phenomenon relating to DTC evidence. You may recall that the acronym NIMBY stands for Not In My Back Yard. The general application of the concept applied to DTC is that while marketers generally advocate for more evidence and insight on the effectiveness of marketing programs, they often oppose the application of that evidence to DTC investments because it would require sacrifice on their part. This phenomenon means that unless you have data in their specific category then it’s not applicable to them and their brand.

Let me give a demonstration of the NIMBY phenomenon in action. I posted in 2010, “Majority of DTC Advertising Stimulates an ‘Inquiry’ Not a Branded Request.” The blog post addressed the conventional wisdom that a large majority of patients activated by DTC specifically request or ask for a prescription product, when in fact, the evidence shows that the majority of DTC campaigns generate at best inquires about a product. Now, you might be thinking, “This was back in 2010. In the last 4 years, patients have become more empowered and will be more comfortable making branded requests based on DTC.” Think again.

Using this data with DTC marketers since 2010 has generated a lot of polite nods, but the consensus was that these numbers didn’t apply to their specific categories. It reminds me of the doctor in qualitative research who states that every other doctor may be doing a specific negative behavior but the interviewed doctor never partakes in that behavior.

To address and put to rest the NIMBY phenomenon once and for all, ROF is publicly releasing the most recent 6 disease states added to our normative data set. It includes the following categories – Cardiology, Colon Cancer, Breast Cancer, Neurology, Urology, and Psychiatry.

DTC Action & Articulation

Now you’ll see there definitely is a range of responses by category, but the fact that remains – the majority of DTC campaigns generate inquires (not requests) ranging from a low of 64% for a psychiatric medication to a high of 89% for a breast cancer treatment.

So, does this mean that we believe marketers shouldn’t invest in DTC? That’s not a conclusion that we can draw from this evidence. What it does mean is that your DTC business cases and ROI modeling need to be adjusted to account for this verified patient behavior. If your current model is overestimating patient requests, then it might be time for a refresh.

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