I need to purge myself from the decadence of Cannes and its endless flow of both wine and drumming gorilla videos. So it’s a great time to dive into the healthcare category. Healthcare is one of our favorite industries because our clients’ products and services themselves significantly improve lives. And we find that marketing in healthcare is fertile ground for marketing that itself can improve lives.
One of our favorite clients is Align, a new brand at Procter & Gamble that is in a pretty unique category. Align is a entrant into the growing probiotic category. Probiotics are digestive supplements that introduce helpful bacteria into your system. They are gaining acceptance and acclaim for a wide range of benefits - from preventing colon cancer to lowering blood pressure.
Align specifically helps build and maintain a healthy, balanced digestive system. It is made with a probiotic called Bifantis. Both are getting some very positive reviews from consumers whose lives have been upended by digestive issues. Moms are missing kids’ soccer games because they are stuck in the bathroom. Dads have to know where the closest public bathrooms are at all times.
As you might imagine, the key consumer and business challenges for Align are the fact that it is a pill that must be taken daily, and it can take a month for the full benefits to come into effect. And as a business school marketing professor warned me on the first day of class: “Habit change is really hard.” Further, the daily supplement is not covered by insurance, and it costs about $1 per day. People who try Align desperately want to adopt the habit, but they need help to ensure that they experience the desired results. Otherwise, it can be a frustrating loss of time and money with nothing to show for it. We saw an opportunity for marketing with meaning.
Based on our years of work in healthcare, we know that people are actively seeking online tips and advice that will help them start a new medication habit or make a significant lifestyle change. So several months ago we brought our client team the idea of creating “My Align Advisor” – a relationship marketing program that would help people adopt the Align habit and ensure that they get the maximum benefits of their investment in the product. Here are a few of the ways we help build the habit:
- Invite consumers into the program at the time that they first buy the product.
- Offer a “digestive tracker” that they can use to measure their progress and results.
- Send weekly emails that explain what people are likely feeling and experiencing at every stage of the process. This helps encourage them when they may feel frustrated.
- Request that they share their results with others through a “Tell Us Your Story” program.
We know that by engaging people with reminders, journal entries, and social reinforcement, we can significantly improve compliance. And the My Align Advisor program test showed real results. In terms of meaning, our survey of users showed that a majority agreed that the program “added to the overall value of Align” and that “Align allows them to enjoy life again.” As for the business, I cannot share results here, but suffice to say that the program continues and our clients are happy. The best news for all of us – including consumers – is that Align has expanded from an online-only test and is now available in select cities as well.
The My Align Advisor program is a model of meaningful marketing that many brands could follow. Other daily prescription and OTC medications are a natural, but I could see similar models anywhere a frequent habit needs to be created. It could be Scotts helping people get their new yards off to a good start, or Toyota helping Prius buyers get used to hybrid driving.
At the end of the day, habit change IS hard. But marketing that helps people adopt the habit can be extremely meaningful for both consumers and businesses.