It’s a standard activity for most pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to develop a ‘buying process’ when entering a new disease category. Over the years, the level of complexity in these models has reached the point of absurdity.
The buying process no longer fits on a slide, but must be broken up across multiple slides to present. If you need a hard copy of the process, you better call FedEx Office, because no standard printer will be able to pull off the formatting with any legibility.
With this increased complexity, I personally believe we’ve lost a significant amount of utility. To a large extent complexity and utility of the crafted buying process is inversely proportional. What is lost in the complexity of the buying processes common today is the focus on the ‘what’ at the expense of the ‘whys.’ The intellectual efforts to track every loop and nuance in the process obfuscate the real need for the marketer, which is to identify what drives choice (i.e., choice drivers) at each critical juncture within the process.
Choice Drivers can typically be bucketed into three main areas for examination.
- Physician-specific – variables specific to the physician and/or practice characteristics (e.g., location, specialty) that could explain differences in physician behavior within the buying process
- Patient-specific – variables specific to the patient characteristics (e.g., co-morbidities, age) that could explain differences in physician and patient behavior within the buying process
- Treatment-specific – variables specific to the treatment or disease (e.g., prior treatment regimen, method of administration) that could explain differences in physician/patient treatment selection within the buying process
Mapping the choice drivers for a disease back against a simplified buying process ultimately helps to hypothesize the ‘whys’ so you can gather additional evidence and prioritize your focus on areas that you as the marketer can influence to disproportionately benefit your brand.
At the end of the day, a buying process should tell you how patients move through the healthcare system for a particular condition in a straightforward manner. This simplified deliverable provides a solid foundation for the real heavy lifting, which is identifying the choice drivers that are integral to the success or failure of your brand. Make sure your intellectual capital (and budget) isn’t exhausted on the buying process or all you’ll have to show for it is a really nice poster.