Big Pharma is starting to give a personality to its drugs in order to push revenues towards its annual sales target of $1.3 trillion by 2018. Personality traits such as dependable, optimistic and elegant are being used to encourage people to want a specific drug.
Much of this new marketing spin is happening in the US where direct-to-consumer advertising is permitted. It's hoped that consumers will then ask the doctor to prescribe the 'dependable' drug.
Fifteen well-known drugs, such as Viagra, Lipitor and Prozac, are being given 'brand personalities', say researchers from the John Molson business school, a technique that has been used for years by Apple, Coca-Cola and other major manufacturers.
The personalities have two aspects: competence and innovation. So as well as being dependable, drugs are also being promoted as unique and original. This new marketing strategy is a necessary next step for Big Pharma as it moves towards global annual sales of $1.3 trillion by 2018 in the face of stiff competition from generics and tough regulation.
(Source: Journal of Consumer Marketing, 2013; 30: 583)