Point-of-sale promotion generates a healthy financial return for pharma brands


New study documents the effectiveness of in-pharmacy promotion as a DTC marketing channel

Informational-dispensing displays at the point of retail sale provide 9.8% lift in prescription sales, and a sixfold ROI for every dollar spent by mature prescription drug brands, according to new research from Rx Edge Pharmacy Networks, a unit of LeveragePoint Media (East Dundee, IL).

The firm operates a nationwide network of 30,000 retail pharmacies (representing 70% of the retail pharmaceutical channel) accepting its informational displays that dispense product information, disease state details and prescription savings offers. The company contracted with a third party to measure lift based on matched-panel research, and ROI based on script lift and pricing data supplied by the client or via Blue Book.

The study tracked 14 brands using Rx Edge’s Solutions at the Shelf program in 2012 and early 2013. Research represented a range of therapeutic categories, and such brands as Genentech’s Tamiflu; AbbVie’s AndroGel; Astellas Pharma’s Vesicare; Allergan’s Restasis; Sucampo’s Amitiza and Merck’s Januvia.

These results are respectable among DTC (direct to consumer) marketing vehicles, and in at least two respects, conservative, according to Jim O’Dea, LeveragePoint CEO. First, the brands studied were mature; none had been on the market for fewer than three years. Therefore, lift is lower than it would be for a major launch, where a major marketing effort can take a brand from essentially nothing to blockbuster status. Second, “The average 9.8% lift is, based on what we know, about 30% less than what it really is, because a consumer may pick up an information piece at Walgreens and ultimately fill a script for that product at Kroger.” Since the company tracks where coupons and rebates are redeemed, however, that information, too, is provided to the brand.

Retail pharmacy promotion, like print promotion, “provides a targeted approach to messaging,” according to Bruce Wilson, a group director in the oncology business at AstraZeneca, another company using Rx Edge’s network. He added that that consumers shopping retail pharmacy aisles are “most likely and willing to take action. When everything is looked at equally, the pharmacy can be one of the most effective channels to reach consumers.”

Brands can target potential patients by carefully choosing the location of a promotion, so for example, a shelf dispenser offering information on Restasis prescription eye drops might be placed in the aisle with J&J’s over-the-counter Visene.

Over the past decade, Rx Edge has served 125 pharma brands from 60 manufacturers in 52 therapeutic categories, says O’Dea.

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