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Revolution vs Evolution Marketing

So I’ve got this Client. We’re helping them attempt to recover from a number of bad decisions, but I’m going to focus on the crux of their communication effort.

Flashback…it’s 2007 and this Client is preparing to launch a new brand into a small category with only a single competitor. They have a superior product, or at least they thought so. Essentially the same efficacy as their on-market nemesis, but with more convenient dosing and administration. Easier for the nurses and the patients. No brainer, right?

You would have thought so. But the problem was, this Client promoted this new product as a revolution in the treatment category and not the “evolution” that it was. It backfired. Target physicians downplayed the convenience benefits of the product because they felt the Client had overplayed the brand’s efficacy. Translation—“if you had told us we’ll get all the efficacy we have now plus the added benefits of your brand, we would have gobbled it up. But, since you since you tried to convince me your brand could do more than it actually can, I’m going to stick with what I know.” Our client’s brand was relegated to second-line and it’s a hole they’re still digging out from.

The truth is, in today’s pharma and biotech markets, advances in many categories have become incremental, not monumental, making it difficult to break the hold of inertia in the absence of an obvious, compelling value proposition.

Remember when computer manufacturers touted the speed of the processors inside them as a key point of differentiation? Not anymore. Why? Advances in speed declined and users could no longer perceive the difference in computing power. Computer manufacturers have had to move beyond processing power to convince consumers to upgrade.

This is exactly what is happening in many categories in pharmaceutical and even the biotechnology industry. Too often we’re trying to sell revolution when what we should be selling is ‘upgrade.’ If you’re marketing revolution on a product that is more evolution, inertia is going to win every time!

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