Marketing imperatives

  • Healthcare is personal: consumers trust what experts and their friends tell them. Investment in generating positive earned media will be well spent.
  • Paid media is most effective when it’s near or at the point of sale.
  • Brands should use search to offer solutions to consumers who are searching for information about particular problems

Healthcare advertising is very different in different countries: the availability of products and the channels available to market them vary widely according to customer demand and government regulations. Nevertheless, our Touchpoint ROI Tracker research allows us to identify common trends in how healthcare brands can communicate with consumers and influence their behaviour effectively.

We use our Touchpoints ROI Tracker tool to monitor trends in brand communication over the full range of paid, owned and earned touchpoints. One of its outputs is Brand Experience, which measures the reported importance of each touchpoint in shaping consumer attitudes and influencing consumer behaviour. As the chart below shows, mass media touchpoints are as important for healthcare brands as they are for brands in general, even though healthcare brands generally face substantial restrictions on the way they use paid mass media. However, advice and recommendations are much more important for healthcare brands than general brands, as are point-of-sale touchpoints. For healthcare decisions, consumers turn first to people they know and trust, whether friends who have faced similar problems, doctors or pharmacists.

Brand experience combines two factors: how likely consumers are to encounter brand messages at each touchpoint, and how likely this encounter is to change their opinions or behaviour. This second factor is the touchpoint’s influence, which runs on a scale from 0 to 100. Touchpoints ROI Tracker tells us that specialist and expert recommendations have the greatest influence on consumers’ relationships with healthcare brands, with very high influence scores of 92 and 89 respectively. In fact, consumers trust experts even more than their own experiences with a brand, through in-store samples or personal use, although these are not far behind, ranking alongside friend and family recommendations.

Looking at paid media, the most influential ads are those that appear in stores and waiting rooms. These have become even more influential over the last few years and are now ahead of TV, though this remains an important channel. However, the influence of other forms of brand communication of television – advertorials, sponsorship and product placement – has fallen sharply. Brand communication on television works better for healthcare where it’s direct and straightforward.

Paid search has become a lot more influential in recent years and is now almost on par with television. It is commonplace for consumers to research symptoms and problems online, and if brands can offer them solutions to these problems while they are in the research phase, they can move them along the path to purchase effectively.

Based on consumer research, Touchpoints ROI Tracker is Publicis Media’s brand contact measurement and planning tool. Since 2004 a total of 1,190 Touchpoints projects have been completed across 69 countries, comprising 1,045,083 consumer

interviews that provide contact point metrics for 15,958 brands in 341 product and service categories. The data for all projects are stored in a single internet-accessible database. This database provides normative and trend data for 301 touchpoints.

All rights to the MCA® measurement system including CCF™, BEP™ and BES™ are owned by


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