Augmenting Pharmaceutical Communications with Psychological Insights

Humans typically spend 3.2 seconds looking at a trade journal advert; 1.5 seconds at a poster; 2 seconds at an email; and 1 second at a banner ad.1

This tells us that a) marketing communications need to deliver their core messages within seconds, and b) advertisements have very little to do with conscious processing. In fact, the past thirty years of decision science (and two Nobel Prize winners) tell us that 80% of the decisions we make are influenced by factors we are unaware of.2,3

This means that asking people why they do something will only yield 20% of the truth. To find out what really drives consumers’ behaviour, implicit research methods that unveil their nonconscious attitudes are required. These specialised techniques access the emotional part of the brain which dominates health and medical decisions.

Who are our mission partner agency, Innovationbubble?

Innovationbubble  are a team of psychologists and behavioural scientists who understand how to access and measure the subconscious emotional factors that drive people’s decision making.

This expertise allows them to deliver insights that enable organisations to create deeper and more meaningful interactions with their clients, HCPs, and patients.

How have Innovationbubble helped pharmaceutical companies?

 By Augmenting Communication Strategies

 Innovationbubble have worked with a global pharmaceutical company to help them understand the drivers and barriers in treatment decisions of general ophthalmologists and corneal specialists, to ensure value was being added beyond just being a ‘drug provider.’

To do this, they segmented their customers with their Neopic segmentation tool to reveal the nonconscious needs around their jobs/personal ambitions and points of engagement. They also tested HCPs’ nonconscious perceptions of the client’s product and conducted psychological interviews with the target audience to understand barriers to product prescription.

These insights led to the identification of two psychological archetype groups and revealed misperceptions about product and efficacy. They identified job and personal need requirements beyond the drug efficacy, and communication was adapted to archetype language which re-addressed barriers to overcome HCPs’ concerns and misperceptions. It also framed the global pharmaceutical company as both a medical solution provider and a job status/security and personal ego solution provider.

Through Adapting Patient Communications

A global pharma brand’s new treatments were not achieving the sales expected. Based on all existing market research, the new product met doctors’ needs and was highly effective: an implant lasting up to 36 months instead of the competitors’ injection every 2 months.

Psychological interviews revealed that doctors’ and patients’ need for reassurance and feeling safe wasn’t met with the brand’s communication of “you don’t need to see your patient for 36 months anymore”. Innovationbubble revised their communications, changing the emphasis away from cost/value and the need for 36-month check-ups, towards an emphasis on 36-month speedy check-ups. Following this change and launches in new markets, the global brand saw a 16% increase in client buy-in and record sales of the product.

Their Vice President and Marketing Director said “Simon and his team at Innovationbubble recently completed some research for us in selected European markets so that we could understand what our customers really think about our brand versus our competitors. We wanted to know if what they say is actually what they think. We have now combined this deep insight, with our more traditional awareness, trial, and usage, and detail follow-up market research. This has allowed us to identify ways to reshape our key messages and refine our communication tactics so that we can be more impactful in every channel.”

What can Innovationbubble do for you?

They can complement your existing approach by:

  • Improving brand communications in terms of behavioural impact
  • Measuring nonconscious influence
  • Understanding audience decision making

Adding behavioural insights to your existing data knowledge and marketing efforts will give your clients, HCPs and patients more relevance and engagement. This replaces the hit-and-miss assumptions of brands with behavioural certainty – an ever-pressing need in the current climate.

To learn more about how Innovation Bubble could help you and your business to create deeper and more meaningful interactions with clients, HCPs, and patients please do not hesitate to get in touch; just drop an email to



  1. Barden PP (2013). Decoded: the science behind why we buy. John Wiley & Sons.
  2. Kahneman D (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. Macmillan.
  3. Lieberman MD. Social cognitive neuroscience: a review of core processes. Annu Rev Psychol 2007; 58: 259-289.