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Inertia is the Competition, Not Another Drug

When you’re thinking about the competitive set for your brand, you should ask yourself two very important questions:

  • What are the products that your brand directly and indirectly competes with for market- and mindshare?
  • What other factors influence physician decision making as it directly relates to your brand?

Let me tell you a little bit more about this second one. A key pattern that we are seeing here at ROF over the last 12 months across a number of our clients is that the major competitive threat in their category is NOT another drug, procedure, or device. It’s inertia.

Whether it’s physicians, patients, or managed care, the power of ingrained thinking is a significant challenge to most brand teams. It can be seen across a range of categories such as RA where anti-TNF cycling predominates and asthma where step therapy is dictated by the guidelines.

It is critical that you consider these alternative external influences when thinking about the competition for your brand. They can have a significant impact on your strategy, objectives, and even messaging.

Who is your brand really competing against?

More Choice Isn’t Better for the Prescriber

Physicians are experiencing new prescription product overload in categories ranging from renal cell carcinoma (RCC) to Hepatitis C. While this is wonderful for patients, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for prescribers to keep track of all these new products and subsequent clinical findings.

The absence of any product sequencing data makes prescribing decisions even more challenging as both patient and prescriber wonder what opportunities they may be sacrificing down the line based on their initial product choice.

This brings me to my point that having more choice isn’t always better. An often-referenced choice study, most recently cited in the book Paradox of Choice, demonstrated in a grocery story experiment that while a tasting display of 24 jams generated more traffic, a display with only 6 jams generated more sales.

It’s believed that as choices increase, consumers make up mental short cuts called heuristics in order to streamline selection. In categories like RCC, it would be critical to understand the heuristics Oncologists have developed to decide between Afinitor, Avastin, Nexavar, Sutent, Torisel, and Votrient. Remember, these are mental short cuts, NOT paragraph-long positioning statements.

Taking a step back, the Oncologist is not only balancing these 6 advanced RCC treatments, but another 200 – 300 other products for various other tumor types, which makes industry insights about the mental short cuts used even more important. Can you articulate the heuristics in your category and for your brand?

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