Will Mobile Marketing in Communicating Medical Products to Doctors be Appreciated as a Service in Pharmaceutical Industry? An Exploratory Study
The use of the mobile Internet has been increasing rapidly. Pharmaceutical industry is beginning to leverage digital to build brand awareness. Pharmaceutical companies can now deliver product message through the usage of mobile directly to doctors. Research was conducted in Mumbai-financial capital in India with large doctors population. Doctors selected were general practitioners and consultants. They were selected at random basis. Objective was to find out the usage among busy doctors and how this tool can be useful to Pharmaceutical companies. Application of mobile marketing can be used as a tool to reach busy doctors .Gender, education, ease of application, type of practice, class of physicians and experience does influence its acceptance and utility of mobile. This study is a first attempt at testing the importance of mobile marketing in healthcare in improving communication between patients and doctors and how Pharmaceutical companies can bridge the gap.
Received: November 04, 2011;
Accepted: January 13, 2012;
Published: March 16, 2012
The current development of mobile marketing is to utilize image recognition
option in advertisements that provide consumers a way to express interest in
a product or promotion. Eventhough, studies about image recognition option are
limited, studies about interactive advertising and cross-media integration support
the concept of using image recognition option to enhance mobile marketing engagement
and consumer response, such as attitude toward the advertisement, brand attitude
and behavioral intention etc. Innovative capacity and strategic flexibilty shape
the digital environment (Jehangir et al., 2011;
Darvishan et al., 2008).
Globally, the use of the Internet on mobile devices is increasing at a rapid
rate. By year-end 2010 e-Marketer predicts an estimated 296.8 million mobile
phone subscribers in the US, reaching 95.4% of the population (Blackburn
and Delarge, 2010). A lot of research has been conducted in the areas of
mobile telephony and traditional Internet. Interactive communication is vital
in marketing enabling the need of consumers/users to be met sucessfully (Jehangir
et al., 2011) During the past decade, the preferred medium for advertising
has seen a dramatic shift away from print media and other traditional means
of distribution. In 2009 alone, it is estimated that advertising spending dropped
between 10 and 20% for newspapers, consumer magazines, radio and television
while increasing an estimated 9.2 and 18.1% in Internet and mobile advertising,
respectively (Wray and Plante, 2011). Mobile could be
used to bring the company closer to consumer. Hutter and
Hoffman (2011) in their study says that marketing techniques can be used
to identify satisfy and keep the customers. However, as the increase in mobile
internet use is a recent developing and global phenomenon, there are many aspects
that are not fully understood. Mobile service providers and mobile manufacturers
increasing more customized strategies to launch new internet based services
or mobile marketing campaigns. Mobile marketing provides opportunities for consumers
and businesses to provide new and innovative services and applications. Hong
and Tam (2006) defined the mobile Internet as a collection of mobile data
services accessed only through a mobile communication network. The use of the
mobile Internet has been increasing rapidly (Francis, 1997;
Davidson et al., 2000). It is also generally believed
that we are at the digital revolution and that the Internet will
have a pervasive influence on almost every aspect of our lives (US
Internet Council and ITTA, 2000). This scenario has profound implications
across the pharmaceutical value chain.
ROLE OF MOBILE IN PHARMACEUTICAL MARKETING
Mobile marketing has arrived as a channel for reaching medical professionals,
as a vast majority of them now carry mobile devices. Pharmaceutical is beginning
to leverage digital to build brand awareness. Pharmaceutical companies can now
deliver product information to the pint size device as consumers rely mostly
on their cell phones. The strategy is the use of cellular technology to deliver
targeted healthcare information and sample coupons to portable devices. Much
like e-mail campaigns, mobile marketing is a permission-based tool that allows
users to opt in (or out) to receive promotions via their mobile phone. This
approach is paperless and scalable and allows companies to build one-to-one
relationships with customers. Novartis offered pollen-count text alerts to promote
the launch of a new allergy nasal spray for hay fever on Allereze, during National
Allergy Week in England. The alert service enabled patients to receive personalized,
up-to-date, pollen-count information by Short Message Service (SMS), with special
alerts on days when the pollen counts were particularly high in their geographic
location. Mehta (2007) mentions, adopter of mobile marketing
which ran an ad campaign on encouraging allergy sufferers to text their zip
code to ALLRGY (255749) to receive local pollen count alerts and an m-Coupon
for a free sample. Mobile marketing offers more than just direct-to-consumer
advertising opportunities. The technology also can benefit clinical trials.
Trial participants can text their medical team with the exact time they took
the medication. Pharmaceutical will be better off, if it stops thinking about
social media as a promotional channel and more of a customer service and research
opportunity. Information exchange between doctors and their device-wielding
patients could drive consumer adoption of mobile as a serious channel. The key
to a successful mobile marketing campaign is to integrate the text options so
that it will be more effective in communication.
Mobile computers have redefined the meaning of captive audience. M-marketing programs utilize many of the same activity metrics that online programs track, such as e-mail request rates and CME program completions. Doc Alert message offers a headline, short body and a button to message and phone number in all related advertising material much like to list a website or traditional phone number. Mobile education also helps reduce the time and in some cases, the costs associated with traveling to conferences, attending dinner sessions or completing online course. And for pharmaceutical companies, mobile medical education can extend the reach of traditional meeting and Web-based programs to an audience seeking more convenient education request that more information be sent to the physicians e-mail. This message can be targeted by specialty, prescriber detail, geography or other variables. However, marketing programs must be able to target individualized preferences and behaviors and be able to measure the Return on Investment (ROI). The purpose of this study is to expand upon existing research regarding consumers opinions on this specific solution. This study also describes study of individual SMS interaction concerning a health marketing message.
Over the last decade, there have been dramatic advances in technologies of
mobile devices and networks. As a result, mobile technologies have the potential
to create new markets, change the competitive landscape of business, create
new opportunities and change existing community and market structures (Stewart
and Pavlou, 2002). Devices and systems based on mobile technologies have
become commonplace in our everyday lives (Balasubramanian
et al., 2002), increasing the accessibility, frequency and speed
of communication. Therefore, sucessful integration of technological and marketing
capabilties is important for product (Mahmod et al.,
Mobile Internet services are more intended for personal and individual needs
and expectations. (Hong and Tam, 2006; Kim
et al., 2007; Kim and Lee, 2001; Lee
et al., 2005). Previous research on the mobile Internet predominantly
focused on technological developments, usability issues and mobile telecommunication
policies (Kristoffersen and Ljumgberg, 1999; Gruber,
2001; Gruber and Verboven, 2001).
Rapid proliferation in the business potential of mobile marketing attracts
researchers from various fields to contribute to the growing body of knowledge
on the phenomena. Although, the literature on mobile marketing is accumulating,
the stream of research is still in the development stage, hence is highly inconsistent
and fragmented. Potential benefits include boosting customer acquisition and
brand loyalty and increasing customer compliance and retention (Mehta,
To assess Mobile Internet usage, a robust and reliable framework is required.
The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) is well suited for this requirement. Many
empirical studies have tested the TAM model and have confirmed its efficacy.
The Technology Acceptance Model (Davis et al., 1989)
was initially designed to predict a users acceptance of information technology
and usage on the job. Its use has changed with time. TAM has become a well-established,
robust, powerful and parsimonious model for predicting user acceptance (Venkatesh
and Davis, 2000) and become the most broadly applied model of user acceptance
and usage (Ma and Liu, 2004).
ROLE IN PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY
Many physicians have developed dependency on mobile computers. Accustomed to
double-checking drug interactions for every patient within seconds, it can be
difficult to return to the more time consuming process of looking up drugs in
a text book (Peter, 2005). Mobile have lower costs and
significantly better measurability than running the same program with paper
coupons (Mehta, 2007). Because mobile devices are a
convenient source of breaking headlines and other news snippets, many physicians
have adopted mobile news services to stay abreast of speciality journals and
clinical news (Peter, 2005). Same author reports about
ZS Associates study which tested the impact of the Epocrates-DocAlert m-marketing
program on a test group of 300 cardiologists across two cardiovascular brands
in highly competitive markets. It demonstrated statistically significant (p<0.01)
shifts in market share relative to a pre-selected control group.
Seyal et al. (2007) have found that the perceive
ease-of-use and perceived usefulness constructs fully mediate the influence
of external variables on usage behaviors. Mehta (2007)
confirmed in their study that prior experience with the Internet has a strong
impact with the utilization of the Internet.
Analyses revealed that perceived ease of use and usefulness (increase the job
performance) influence their acceptance and usage behaviors. Lerer
(2001) reports results that support TAM, in the context of studying an increase
in the probability of a users repeated usage of the mobile Internet.
|| Proposed theoretical construct
Morris and Turner (2001) explored the role of experience
in changing relationships among TAM variables in the Internet usage context.
Numerous studies analyzed the impact of experience to computer usage behaviors.
Levin and Gordon (1989) reported that those who owned
computers were more motivated to become familiar with computers and had more
favorable attitudes toward computers, than those who did not own computers.
There have been many studies in the past showing a positive relation between
actual usage and personal computer ownership (Rahim et
al., 2000), personal computer know how (Igbaria
and Iivari, 1995), frequency of personal computer use (Igbaria
et al., 1997; Igbaria and Chakrabarti, 1990)
and personal computer experience (Igbaria and Chakrabarti,
1990; Igbaria, 1992). Experience has been demonstrated
to have a large effect on performance with a specific system (Egan
and Gomez, 1985; Singley and Anderson, 1985). Within
the Internet, research supports that inexperienced people tend to simultaneously
depend on subjective norm and social pressure as well as self-experience. Venkatesh
and Davis (2000) supported a moderating effect of experiences on the perceived
usefulness, as they found out that experience tends to increase the intention
to use the technology. The studies of Ozhan-Dedeoglu (2004)
have revealed that men and women perceive the mobile phones usage differently.
Young generations are more interested in mobile technologies and services (Dickinger
et al., 2004a, b). It has been observed that
mobile devices, more than being a means of communication, are used as fashion
accessories (Robins, 2003).
Medical doctors are highly educated and intelligent. Higher education may influence the attitude towards mobile usage. Similarly other demographic profile like gender, culture, religion, age and frequency of usage could influence acceptance of Mobile Communication Marketing (MCM). Type of practice may influence doctors on usage pattern as busy doctors may not get time to use mobile extensively, will there be variance between general practitioner and consultant? Consultant may like to project his image as tech say among patients compared to general practitioner. Therefore, the following theoretical construct can be made which is given in Fig. 1.
It means g + a + e + < + d + + p < usage of mobile + usage of mobile + fu + e. Experience and frequency of usage could influence mobile usage. Mobile usage will get affected by gender, age, education as studied earlier by many researchers.
It was conducted in Mumbai-financial capital in India with large doctors population. MBA students participated in the study. Doctors selected were general practitioners and consultants. They were selected at random basis. Objective was to find out the usage among busy doctors and how this tool can be useful to Pharmaceutical companies.
Type of research: It was an exploratory study which was conducted among doctors in Mumbai since, usage of mobile in emerging market is growing but its usage in pharmaceutical selling may be limited. This study was to investigate, its usage among physicians.
Sampling: The populations we are studying are users of the mobile by doctors who have used mobile phones at least once. We consider this population to be relevant to our study. One to one surveys were conducted in India using a questionnaire as a tool 60 doctors participated in this study. Eighty three percent were GP and consultant were 17%. This samples size differs from the normal strata of doctor which is 70 and 30%, respectively. Total sample size was sixty. As it was exploratory study, a more detailed study will be required.
The mobile channel offers an exciting opportunity for marketers-one that most have yet to fully embrace. IT development, including the internet and mobile telephony, has opened new and interesting opportunities for communication to promote health. The use of the Internet as a source of health information and connectivity between providers and payers has increased interest in e-health as a channel for the marketing of health-related products and services. While competitive considerations have increased interest and activity in the e-health arena by large pharmaceutical, insurance and retail companies, we are yet to discern clear winning strategies and best-practice.
Doctors who were interviewed were further classified in to 3 types based on
number of patients he sees per day. General practitioner were classified as
A class doctor who is seeing 75 or more patient per day and B class were based
on 50-75 patient day and C class were classified based on less than 50 patients
per day (Srivastava, 2005). This was also pharmaceutical
industry classification as a thumb rule as an overall classification which takes
only patients as a main criteria. Similarly consultants were classified as A
(>25 pt day-1) B (10-25 pt day-1) and C (<10 pt
day-1). The profile of the doctor selected for this study is given
in Table 1.
More busy doctors may not get time to go through the message due to time constrains. Frequency of usage will be less if doctor is busy. This was the main reason for taking this factor for study. A general question on utility of cell phone in medical communication reported 73% in affirmation. However, in A class doctor it was only 56% (N = 25) among GP category but 78% with consultant category.
It could mean GP with A class practice (>75 pts day-1) do not
get enough time to use cell phone for medical communication to patient compared
to consultant. It also means higher the education the greater is the use of
cell phone on medical communication to patients. This is given in Table
2 frequency of usage will lead to greater ease of cell phone in medical
communication. Experience of usage could lead to better perceived usefulness
as was confirmed by Seyal et al. (2007). Experience
due to frequency of usage too develop attitude toward usage.
|| Classification of doctor based on patients, N = 60, he sees
|GP: General practitioner; CP: Consultant practitioner
|| A class doctor analysis on cell phone medical communication
|| Doctors expectation from mobile usage by pharma companies
This was not reported earlier though the role of intention as a predictor of
behavior (usage) has been well established in IT services (Ajzen,
1991; Taylor and Todd, 1995; Carlsson
et al., 2006). Nysveen et al. (2005)
too confirmed that attitude toward the use is direct determinant of mobile usage.
According to Venkatesh and Davis (2000) behavior intention
(attitude) has a direct affect on actual behavior. Will it get affected by gender
and age? A gender analysis of doctors who are using the mobile revealed no difference
on the application but the usage among females was 92% (N = 12) compared to
69% (N = 48) males (t = 0.070907). It could be possible as female may like to
use technology based gadget on ease of using the same (Taylor
and Todd, 1995).
The question asked was usage of cell phone by doctors to patients. 63.3% were using the same for change in consulting timing, follow up with patients (60%) and change in clinic address (43%). It means cell phone usage among 73% existing users, three major usage patterns emerged. Pharmaceutical industry can see mobile marketing as a tool to reach busy doctors. Physicians remain as the main customers of the Pharmaceutical critical industry. Pharmaceutical companies can help to improve the quality of life of patient in remote areas through mobile phone.
Female doctors (67%) are more agreeable to receive communication from Pharmaceutical companies compared to male which was 48%. It could be due to gender.
Thus, this study confirms that usage of mobile will be affected by gender education,
education, type of practice and type of doctors. Usage will also be affected
by frequency of use. In Pharmaceutical industry similar study was not undertaken,
though other study involving doctors have mentioned the use of mobile in customer
acquisition and customer compliance (Mehta, 2007). In
general. where doctors were not involved studies did mentioned that ease of
use (Seyal et al., 2007), experience in using
(Levin and Gordon, 1989), age (Dickinger
et al., 2004a) do play role in acceptance of mobile marketing media.
Doctors were asked on their expectation in communication using mobile for marketing. They showed the following in Table 3.
The above research data can be extremely useful for Pharmaceutical companies.
Mehta (2007) did report the success of alert, service
and m-coupon for free samples but other usage were not reported. The new suggestion
will be useful to Pharmaceutical companies in improving their brand recalls.
Mobile marketing campaigns are relatively low cost and cost-effective (Kavassalis
et al., 2003; Michael and Salter, 2006). The
internet, in particular has been the preferred medium for numerous health promotion
initiatives including smoking cessation and optimized drug therapy for asthma,
diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, prophylaxis, vaccine program and exercise.
Mobile telephony has also been used as a health promotion tool in many contexts,
such as vaccine program, asthma compliance program and smoking cessation program.
Short Message Service (SMS) technology has shown to be particularly effective
and in some cases, more useful than the internet in promoting heath.
Pharmaceutical companies are certainly articulating a commitment to the Internet as an important component of their marketing strategy and some companies have openly stated their intention to use the Internet as their primary channel for reaching consumers. However, current metrics of expenditure on on-line marketing remain minuscule when compared to conventional (including media, print and detailing) physician and consumer marketing spend. It is also generally believed that we are at the beginning of the digital revolution and that the Internet will have a pervasive influence on almost every aspect of our lives. This scenario has profound implications across the pharmaceutical value chain. Application of mobile marketing can be used as a tool to reach busy doctors. Gender, education, ease of application, type of practice, class of doctors and experience does influence its acceptance.
RESEARCH LIMITATION / IMPLICATIONS
The study has limitations and we suggest that our results should be interpreted
with caution. Mobile service providers might want to provide services to the
entire population, including people who do not use the stationary Internet or
mobile phones already. Pharmaceutical companies do not sell prescription medications
directly to consumers and are under strict regulatory scrutiny in countries
where direct-to-consumer advertising is permitted (Lerer,
2001). Lack of clear Return on Investment metrics makes it difficult to
justify substantial expenditure on Internet-based marketing.
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