Consumers, Docs Crave Facts From Drug Ads

NEW YORK Consumers and doctors crave facts in ads for prescription drugs and distrust of the pharmaceutical industry has made them skeptical of emotional appeals, according to a new global study from DDB.
“Consumers are not going to be as motivated to take action based solely on higher-order, emotional-end benefits,” wrote DDB worldwide director of brand planning Maria Tender, in a summary of the study’s main findings. “Today, more than ever, they will need tangible benefits ascribed to products. They are more likely to be influenced by the product’s ability to get them closer to the fundamental goal of a life without illness.”
Tender added: “Brands that promise a better version of life without substantive support [to back that up] will find it harder to connect. Brands and products need to charter a more useful, practical purpose.”
The study, “Health Is the New Wealth,” polled 1,830 consumers and doctors in 11 countries in late 2008. (Click to download study.)
The findings illustrate how attitudes and behaviors around personal health vary from country to country and how that can impact brand messages.
When U.S. respondents were asked to rank the relative importance of several health goals, their top choice was “living without illness” (at 26 percent), followed by “feeling strong in both mind and body” (22 percent) and “living a long life (18 percent).”
That pecking order matched that of the global group and respondents in the U.K., China and Singapore, but differed from the rankings in Mexico, Brazil, France, Germany, India, Australia and Canada. In Mexico, for example, the No. 1 response was “feeling strong in both mind and body (21 percent),” followed by “living a long life” (19 percent) and “living without pain (18 percent).”
Globally, doctors continue to be the most trusted source of advice about medicine. Seventy-five percent of the respondents agreed with the statement, “Believe your doctor’s assessment of a medication,” versus only 25 percent who agreed with the statement, “Believe what you hear or read about medicine on TV or in the newspaper.”
Beyond doctors, respondents ranked relatives and friends as the next most-trusted source of healthcare information (at 46 percent), followed by the Internet (33 percent) and mass media (22 percent).

Related: “Big Pharma, Tough to Swallow”