Much of what drives RM is the basic, but surprisingly controversial fact, that patients are human beings, and human beings tend to act in illogical (i.e., emotional) ways. Just because, say, a cardiac patient has had three coronaries, a triple bypass and a stent does not mean that he will do the logical thing and, say, quit smoking. In his fascinating book Change or Die, author Alan Deutschman goes into some detail about both why we don't do what we know we should, and what drivers and influencers can be harnessed to help patients make the right decisions. This, in a nutshell, is what RM is all about. Alan, if you want a job, give me a call.
A couple of recent blog posts make this point, too. One of them, in a neat little blog called Neuromarketing, describes a direct response test run by a South African bank for a loan product. As part of the test, the bank offered a broad range of interest rates, which should logically be the only thing, along with repayment terms, that really matters to consumers. They also tested a variety of what they euphemistically call psychological features — details of the offer that have nothing to do with the loan itself, but are intended to alter customer behavior.
Like, say, a photograph of an attractive woman.
In a post on Friday, here's what Neuromarketing had to say about the results:
For the male customers, replacing the photo of a male with a photo of female on the offer letter statistically significantly increases takeup; the effect is about as much as dropping the interest rate 4.5 percentage points… For female customers, we find no statistically significant patterns.
A similar concept is discussed by Guy Kamasaki in his terrific, and widely-read blog How to Save the World. In a recent post, he discusses the work of a prominent linguist, George Lakoff, who is profiled in a recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. Lakoff's insight, which he used to consult to the Democratic National Committee, among others, was pretty straightforward.
In his new book, Lakoff takes aim at "Enlightenment reason," the belief that reason is conscious, logical, and unemotional. Harnessing together work from several fields, particularly psychology, neuroscience, and linguistics, he mounts a polemical assault on the notion that people think rationally — which, he argues, is fundamentally at odds with how the brain actually functions. Approximately 2 percent of the millions of pieces of information the brain absorbs every minute are processed consciously. The remaining 98 percent are handled by the unconscious brain. The mind, in other words, is like a tiny island of conscious reasoning afloat in a vast sea of automatic processes. In that sea, which Lakoff calls "the cognitive unconscious," most people's ideas about morality and politics are formed. We are all, in many respects, strangers to ourselves.
In other words, we think we're rational, but we're anything but. As pharma marketers, we think our patients will respond to information about risks, outcomes and facts. Wrong again. People are emotional as well as rational, and the sooner we understand that, the more effective we'll be.