This year, expect the trend to continue of healthcare marketing focusing on brand planning, customer insights and market research to launch brands and increase market share.

When was the last time you had more than a surface conversation with your customers? Evolved your Value Proposition based on new insights? Analyzed and reacted to evolving category threats? Every market situation is in motion, nothing stands still, and having the latest market intelligence can give you a competitive advantage.

It all begins with Brand Planning, the road map that helps marketing teams anticipate threats, leverage opportunities and overcome barriers. The opposite is also true: a lack of current market intelligence can create opportunities for competitive brands to capture share.

The question is, what informs Brand Planning, where does it come from and what is the process? How do successful brands go about discovering actionable insights about their key customers, brand value, and competitive set? And what do they do with those insights?

To take a page out of the consumer healthcare marketing playbook, a primary pillar of Brand Planning is qualitative market research. Why qualitative? Because unlike quantitative surveys that barely scratch the surface, qualitative research utilizes in-depth customer dialogue to reveal a breadth of insights and understanding.

The Big 3 of Branding

The Brand Positioning, Value Proposition and Creative Platform all derive from up-to-date market intelligence. Pharmaceutical companies are moving away from developing these key marketing benchmarks around a conference room table without the guidance of customer research and insights.

The first need is to determine the Brand Positioning. One way to learn what “position” in the market the brand can own is through a strategic process known as “The Positioning Triangle.” At each of the 3 corners is a different set of variables: what the brand can stand for, what the competitors stand for, and what the customers are looking for. (These variables are all vetted in qualitative research.) There’s always a unique market position to differentiate from the pack.

Next, the Value Proposition supports the Brand Positioning and is rooted in the research learnings. Generally, the Value Proposition is streamlined to express the brand’s value and uniqueness and appeals directly to its core customers.

Finally, the Creative Platform is derived from the Brand Positioning and the Value Proposition as a unified campaign idea that can live in multiple mediums.

Target Someone, Not Everyone

If your brand was an automobile, would you run a promotion with the headline: “Want to buy a car?” A sales pitch like that would not be specific to your brand’s value proposition or targeted to any particular customer—so not likely to be very effective. It would also be needlessly expensive.

In order to differentiate, brands are marketed based on their unique benefits, which means every successful brand is positioned to a specific group of customers. There is also the issue of messaging: when not tailored toward a specific segment brand messaging generally becomes more generic, therefore less relevant and impactful.

It is helpful to think of current and potential customers as comprised of distinct segments rather than one large homogenous group. Customer segments have different ways of working, mindsets and goals—and each will value your brand a little differently. Some segments are much more likely to be your core customers, and they are the segments to focus your promotional dollars on.

But who are they? Market research can help identify your brand’s customer segment and uncover the insights into why they are customers (or likely customers). This enables you to create highly relevant content that resonates with your core customer segment. The beauty of digital marketing is its ability to target specific customers—but it only works well if you know exactly who you want to target.

Looking Forward

More and more we see pharmaceutical marketers (like consumer healthcare marketers) gaining a competitive advantage by engaging in Brand Planning in order to effectively position the brand to succeed in an evolving marketplace.

For more information, please contact Bob Karczewski ( or Hoon Chang (