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Is ‘Consensus’ Marketing Good Enough Today in Biopharma?

consensus marketing?I’ll admit that sometimes being the sole voice of Evidence-Based Marketing in the room can leave me feeling a bit like a permanent naysayer. Introspection is good, right? But every once in a while, I have an experience that reinvigorates my passion for our unique approach to marketing. Recently, I had one of these experiences.

I was sitting in on some market research where a specialist started to educate the moderator on the difference between making a clinical decision based upon consensus-based versus evidence-based guidelines. The specialist believed that it was a dated notion to derive a clinical ‘position’ through a simple consensus of smart individuals. She enumerated a number of reasons for her belief, which included:

  • Information Access –democratization of data puts information at the fingertips of anyone who has access to the Internet, not just the consensus builders
  • Quality & Quantity of Data – while not specifically referencing the concept of ‘Big Data.’ the volume of observations has dramatically increased to improve the confidence level in decision making beyond just the erudite group
  • Accelerated Pace of Change – markets are being dramatically and rapidly transformed (think melanoma or CLL) making the traditional issuance of guidance every two to three years inadequate

Market forces are pushing, but also allowing physicians to rely more on evidence-based guidelines to improve decision-making. This got me thinking. The factors outlined above by the specialist in the market research are equally applicable to pharmaceutical marketing.

Our ‘consensus’ based guidelines in pharmaceutical marketing come through elaborate brand planning processes and launch readiness reviews. One of the problems with this approach is that input in solicited by multiple sources and weighed evenly regardless of experience. The level of evidence supporting the decision-making in these marketing meetings is based more upon consensus than on a critical examination of the evidence supporting the chosen strategy.

As an industry, perhaps we too should take advantage of the recent wealth and democratization of marketing data to hold our marketing decisions to a higher standard. Or are you just really comfortable with consensus ruling your brand decision-making?

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