Medical nutrition companies must develop and market products to both healthcare professionals and consumers. Triggering both target groups is a challenge: while offering great health benefits is a pre-requisite, ensuring compliance is also crucial (by ensuring the product is pleasant-tasting and convenient to use).
Clinical Relevance is a Must
Major medical nutrition players used to focus on delivering medical nutrition for malnutrition (for example countering a lack of nutrients). As these products are covered by health services and insurers in most countries, medical nutrition marketers traditionally focus on healthcare professionals: the prescribers. Limited attention is paid to convincing end-consumers. With consumers as final purchase decision makers, it is crucial to understand their needs and perceptions and how to best convince them to purchase these products. Hence a new expertise is required: defining successful consumer marketing approaches.
Support Efficacy with Clinical Evidence
Healthcare professionals will often assess the clinical relevance of a medical nutrition product based on the same clinical endpoints as for drugs. There are various reasons for this:
• Clinical endpoints are the reference points that healthcare professionals
are familiar with.
• Clinical endpoints help them understand when and how to best
use the product.
• They are sometimes offered incentives for improved results on
Any other clinical endpoints claimed may be irrelevant to healthcare professionals or difficult to judge, making any claims less credible to be more dependent on a physician for advice. Marketers therefore need to carefully assess the importance of healthcare professionals in the decision making process.
Clear Health Benefits
While the health benefits should be clear and understandable for consumers, they will most likely rely on their healthcare professionals’ recommendations to decide whether to initiate the use of a medical nutrition product. As consumers typically pay for the product themselves (from their own pocket), they should clearly notice and feel the health benefits in the long term: whether it is evident to them as laypeople (for example, observing benefits such as weight loss or simply feeling better) or when going to their healthcare professionals for a checkup.
Compliance is also Key
In developing medical nutrition products for disease prevention or treatment, R&D departments can easily focus only on offering great health benefits. However, even if healthcare professionals and consumers are convinced that your product offers them a relevant benefit, there are always other forces at work preventing them from using it, for example concerns about taste, convenience or price: a pleasant taste is a pre-requisite to avoid rejection or fatigue, it must be easy to integrate into consumers’ daily lives, they want products that do not make them look or feel different from others and when too expensive, consumers will not try it nor comply with a long treatment regime. Ensuring compliance is therefore as important as clinical efficacy to guarantee the success of your medical nutrition product. On the one hand, healthcare professionals want patients to comply with the product’s recommended dosage to achieve the desired level of efficacy. On the other hand, consumers want the product to be as enjoyable as possible to ensure they will use the product for a (long) period.