Advertising is the key determiner of the success of a product or service in the market. It is essential because it involves communication, which is non-personal between the business and its customers. After a product has been developed, keeping in mind the needs and requirements of consumers, the next step is to market your product. Firms invest huge sums of money in promotional strategies to communicate the efficacies of their products and services to the public.
There are various forms of advertising. Each organization has to select a particular form or a combination of various forms of advertising for their products. Such a decision has to be made by analyzing various factors such as the nature of the product, nature of the market, consumers, etc. One such form of advertising is the Direct to consumer advertising.
What Is Direct To Consumer Advertising?
Direct to consumer advertising, also known as DTC advertising (DTCA), is aimed at consumers, especially for products that require an intermediary between the buyer and the seller. Such advertising is not limited to pharmaceutical products. Other than pharma products, financial companies also use this type of advertising to inform their potential clients about the financial products and services they offer. DTCA is basically, the advertising and marketing of pharmaceutical products to the consumers directly as compared to marketing to health professionals.
Pharmaceutical products advertised using this mode, include prescription medicines, medical devices, diagnostic devices, etc. Many a time, consumers are not able to purchase certain products on their own such as prescribed medicines. So, they need to consult their healthcare provider to purchase such drugs. This is what direct to consumer advertising aims at, i.e., facilitating communication between doctor and patient to increase sales.
Types Of Direct To Consumer Advertising
For pharmaceutical products, these three types of advertisements are used:
Product Claim Advertisements:
In this advertisement, a product is introduced with its features and uses. Such advertisements aim at informing a consumer regarding a particular product and its efficacies.
Help-seekingHelp-seeking ads do not introduce a product or a brand. They aim at informing a consumer about certain medical conditions and emphasize the need for seeking professional help.
As the name suggests, such ads aim to remind a consumer about a product. These are generally helpful for the products which are already established in the market. So, reminder ads at certain intervals leave impressions on the mind of consumers. These do not make claims about a product.
Pros Of Direct To Consumer Advertising
Consumers Can Self-Educate Themselves:
DTC advertising generates awareness amongst consumers regarding products and certain medical conditions. They become capable of asking doctors for certain alternative medicines for their medical conditions.
Encourages Patients To Seek Professional Consultation:
It is important to seek medical help for underlying medical conditions. Early diagnosis and consultation prevent the worsening of health problems. Such advertising reminds and encourages consumers to consult their doctors.
Raises Awareness About Medical Conditions
It is of utmost importance to destigmatize and demystify people's beliefs about health issues. Raising awareness about medical problems and the need for seeking assistance is the need of the hour. Studies have found that many patients are afraid of visiting a doctor, while others are just ignorant.
Cons Of Direct To Consumer Advertising
1. May Create Panic Amongst Consumers
Such advertising may create false scares among consumers. Advertisements generally discuss the potential symptoms of a medical condition due to which, the consumer starts relating every symptom that he/she faces with the said medical issue.
Promotes Unnecessary Use Of Medications
There are certain diseases, termed as life-style disorders, which may be treated in the long run through proper diet and workout routines but, such advertisements claim to provide a quick fix for such diseases in terms of medications.
May Over-Emphasize The Efficacy Or Under-Emphasize The Side-Effects Of Drugs
Although various regulatory bodies lay down guidelines and rules for advertisements of pharmaceutical products, advertisers find their way around to promote their product in the most positive sense possible. They are obliged to declare the side-effects of their products but do so with caution so that consumers overlook them. At the same time, they try to manipulate consumers into believing the efficacy of a drug even when the statistics are low.
Pharmaceutical direct to consumer advertising might increase the cost of healthcare for everyone. It is necessary to keep these factors in mind while framing an opinion on this subject. The benefits derived by these advertisements, such as educating consumers, etc. are the need of the society but at the same time, the flaws should not be overlooked. Such advertisements must be regulated cautiously to ensure that flaws do not outweigh the cons