Pharmaceutical industry: Earning the consumer's trust
Trust - earned or manufactured?
When it comes to marketing and selling pharmaceutical products - winning and keeping the consumer's trust is extremely important.
The consumer wants to know that the product is safe to use, will be effective in treating whatever ailment they might have and won't have any unforeseen negative effects. The latest Johnson & Johnson calamity emphasises the importance of trust when it comes to medication. If you haven't heard the news - Johnson & Johnson were fined $1.1bn for misleading doctors over the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal.
All of a sudden - the Johnson & Johnson brand doesn't seem that trustworthy anymore. The far reaching effects of this will have to be seen. Loyal Johnson & Johnson customers will in all likelihood, not suddenly stop using their products - but, it's that fleeting thought when a mother powders her baby's bottom with a J&J product, that she wonders if there isn't some unforeseen risk associated that J&J might have conveniently forgotten to mention.
Trust in itself is a fairly abstract thing. It's fragile and hard to earn and easy to lose. So, is trust earned or manufactured? In my opinion it's a little of both.
The product itself needs to earn the consumers trust by consistently delivering on what it promises to do. But there is another step in the pharmaceutical circle of trust. Before a consumer even tries a product - the design and marketing surrounding the product needs to build a sense of trust and familiarity among potential consumers.
Pharmaceutical Packaging Design
Let's focus on packaging design and how it can have an influence on trust. There are a few key factors to consider when designing pharmaceutical packaging:
1. High Quality Production
Pharmaceutical packaging of a higher quality and more professionally produced can give the consumer a sense that the actual content has also been produced with more care. A good example of this is the Panado brand. In essence, Panado is nothing fancy - it's just Paracetamol. If you take some time to wade through the masses of products in the pharmacy - you will notice a huge amount of pain killers on the market that are exactly the same as Panado.
Yet consumers prefer to put their trust in a product that they are familiar with albeit more expensive than other products that are also just paracetamol.
2. Rather the devil you know...
This brings me to my next point regarding pharmaceutical packaging design. Creating a sense of familiarity with the packaging is important. Consumers are skittish to try new medication - especially if they have been using a product that has been fairly effective for years. When designing the packaging - it's important to use familiar visual associations consumers have with certain pharmaceutical products.
The trick here is to pull in enough of the trusted visual cues - and update and reinvent the look to create a unique stand alone brand.
3. Clean, Modern Design
When it comes to pharmaceutical packaging - clean, modern designs evoke a sense of sophistication and seriousness. Obviously the overall design direction depends on the actual product and what it's for and who it will be targeting.
But in general, when it comes to medication, consumers want to feel that they're using a sophisticated, modern product. If the packaging design looks like it was designed by someone on Microsoft Paint in a home office somewhere in the 1970's - it doesn't really evoke a great amount of trust.
4. Overall Brand scale
When designing pharmaceutical packaging - it's important to incorporate a sense that this specific product is part of a much bigger family of products.
This is where the overall brand names such as Johnson & Johnson, Aspen or Adcock Ingram start to play a pivotal role. When the overall brand name isn't incorporated in the design in a strong manner - it makes the product a little less trustworthy.
Think about it. Would you rather swallow pills that have been funded, researched and tested by a multi billion dollar pharmaceutical company that has a lot to lose - or pills that are being manufactured by a no-name brand company in a little chemical lab somewhere?
Even though the no-name brand company might have a superior product on the market - it's likely that consumers will opt to use a similar product that is backed by a major pharmaceutical company. It's easier to trust.
Innovative packaging design can give consumers a sense of trust in a brand. It makes them feel as if the brand as a whole is forward thinking, modern and innovative. Qualities that we all would like from the people who manufacture our medication.
These are only a few key elements that can add a sense of trust to pharmaceutical packaging design. In the end, trust is earned through the quality of the product. But as mentioned above - there are ways to give a sense of trust to a product through excellent packaging design.
More about Contrast:
Contrast is a full service strategic branding agency that was formed early 2007. The company also specialises in packaging design - and does extensive work for the fragrance, food and pharmaceutical industries.
For more information contact Yve Oosthuizen or Stephen Geldenhuys on 021 761 0665 or or
or visit www.contraststudio.co.za.
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