Does Biopharma “get” the role of caregiver? Do any of us really market to their needs? Ask 65 million people. (Part 1 of 2).

Summary: 65 million caregivers. Their role is often undefined, undeserved and undersupported. Are we as marketers, and as human beings, missing out on a key audience and the opportunity to engage with a key Influencer? Caregivers challenges are formidable — there must be ways to help. While this is an ever-growing part of the population, we as brand marketers in healthcare need them on our side — or rather, we need to be at their side!

Remember, when your branded treatment needs to be part of the conversation, a caregiver may be your best sales force! 

So, best advice: don’t reinvent the wheel. Check out the numerous existing resources (some examples in this post) before developing any strategy; look to partner for credibility and to tap into an already existing expertise. People are already doing it right: learn before you spend.

Let’s look at a recent study by AARP . In a recent study by AARP* titled “Valuing the Invaluable 2015 Update: Undeniable Progress but Big Gaps Remain”.

Here are some startling facts (with an infographic to add depth):

  • Family caregivers in the U.S. provided 37 billion hours of care
  • This is worth an estimated $470 billion—to their parents, spouses, partners, and other adult loved ones in 2013.
  • The total estimated economic value of this uncompensated care provided by the nation’s family caregivers surpassed total Medicaid spending ($449 billion), and nearly equaled the annual sales ($469 billion) of the four largest U.S. tech companies combined (Apple, Hewlett Packard, IBM, and Microsoft) in 2013.
  • 74% of workers at some point during their career provide care to a loved one.
  • Approximately 18% of caregivers say they are “highly strained” financially because of their care giving responsibilities.
  • 1 in 3 have no help at all, paid or unpaid, the report found.
  • In the U.S. alone, 65.7 million people provide care to an older adult.

Let’s not lose sight that these aren’t numbers, they’re humans. Armies of human beings, individuals, each with their own needs and story. This is what lies behind the numbers. Let’s use these infographic from 101 Mobility to show the burden of tasks and time:

What does this mean to marketers? First, if you are going to address and engage with the caregiver as a branded treatment, study all the current digital and offline resources available —,, even the BMS

More on what are good resources to research to help define your marketing strategy in Part 2 on Caregivers. (Part 2 later this week!)


Thank you to: Thank you to AARP for doing the good work we as a society need.

*AARP “Valuing the Invaluable” 2015 Report.

Does Biopharma “get” the role of caregiver? Do any of us really market to their needs? Ask 65 million people. (Part 1 of 2). was originally published on Harbinger Associates

Don’t Touch That Switch

One aspect of relationship marketing that we've discussed a lot is the creation of online communities. There are lots of examples, such as out there. But once someone has joined a community, the battle is only half-won. The other half of the battle is keeping them there, and keeping them engaged.

An interesting post on Tuesday (okay, it's a few days old) in on this topic suggests that the way to prevent switching is to create transactional switching costs. In English, this means make leaving the community such a pain in the neck that nobody wants to leave. This is a very negative strategy. Basically, what it's saying is that although you may want to leave, you won't.

This is sort of like the Recording Artists Industry of America taking it upon itself to sue people who were engaged in peer-to-peer downloading. Suing your own customers is never, ah, good marketing, and it also masks the underlying problem — people illegally download music because they feel the industry's available options are not really meeting their needs. So they switch.


If you're running an online community, especially around a chronic condition, punishing people who want to switch has a similar flaw. You're not getting at the real issue, which is that they're dissatisfied, for whatever reason, with what you're offering. So they start looking around.

I think that a much better approach is a kind of aggregation strategy. The goal is to make your community the hub of the issue — kind of the operating system for the condition. You are already working with, incorporating and therefore aggregating all the other possible resources. There's nowhere else for patients to go because you've already got it.

This approach was nicely described in a November 3 post of the Pharma 2.0 blog. The post describes a community site developed and launched by Bristol-Meyers Squibb for women living with advanced breast cancer. I'll let the post speak for itself:

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the initiative is that it
involved buy-in from 13 non-profit organizations! See the list of
participating breast cancer patient advocacy organizations below.
Breast Cancer Network of Strength (formerly Y-Me)
Breast Cancer Research Foundation
The Linda Creed Foundation
Living Beyond Breast Cancer
Metastatic Breast Cancer Network
Sisters’ Network
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
The Wellness Community
Young Survival Coalition

Now, who in their right mind is going to join this community, and then leave? Where, exactly, are they going to go? By involving all these organizations in the process of creating a community, they have started with a community focus from the very beginning. Everyone's involved, everyone stays, this site basically becomes the standard.