Building a brand: Exposure over multiple cycles drives long-term impact

Long Duration Programs


It takes time to build any brand, but pharmaceutical marketers face unique challenges. The path from initial awareness to filling a script to adhering to a treatment plan is an intricate one. Consumers must first become aware of a potential health condition, then gather information about it, determine what their symptoms might mean, learn about prescription alternatives, see a healthcare provider regarding therapy options, get a prescription, fill it, begin treatment, and adhere to the treatment regimen. This is definitely not a nice linear progression. Instead, it can be a winding process that requires continuous cultivation of awareness and adherence. For this reason, a single-distribution approach in the DTC plan is often not as effective as a longer-term strategy. Many pharma brands have experienced excellent results by using Solutions at the Shelf™ programs over the course of multiple cycles as part of a continuing re-engagement strategy.


The key focus of longer-duration programs is to effectively communicate messages to prospective patients through repeated exposures. The chart below illustrates the specific communication objectives of the categories highlighted in this case study: Type 2 Diabetes, Dry Eye, Anaphylaxis, IBS-C/CIC (Irritable Bowel Syndrome with chronic constipation/chronic idiopathic constipation), and Flu.

Category Objective
Type 2 Diabetes Emphasize unique product benefits and features
Dry Eye Encourage prospective patients to understand their symptoms and have a productive dialogue with their doctor
Anaphylaxis Reach adults and parents and properly convey preventable allergic reaction options
IBS-C/CIC Drive awareness of the condition and educate sufferers about treatment options
Flu Inform potential patients about the critical differences between the flu and a cold


While each of the “long-duration” programs differed somewhat in overall strategy, they shared certain fundamental success factors:

1. Single vs. multiple creative executions

When it comes to decisions regarding creative for longer-duration programs, there is no “right” or “wrong” way. Many brands changed creative executions one to two times a year. Others maintained a uniform tone and look over time, periodically updating the dispenser and booklet as needed. The consistent focus was on building relatable messages and brand associations.

2. Seasonality and other factors in program timing

Some brands executed their Solutions at the Shelf™ programs during a specific time of year (back-to-school or flu season for example) and repeated the strategy in the same timeframe in subsequent years. Other brands scheduled programs to align with the timing of other marketing efforts.

3. Integration with other media

When integrated with other media channel strategies like television or print, Solutions at the Shelf™ programs can extend the reach and value of brand campaigns. Over a period of time, this type of integration strategy adds an exponential effect to the program's ultimate results.

4. Program duration

Typically, the longer-duration efforts spanned at least two program cycles within a year over the course of three or more years. Maintaining a long-term presence in the pharmacy aisles allows consumers to gain a connection with the brand’s messaging and ensures maximum exposure.

Category Program Duration
Type 2 Diabetes 5 years
Dry Eye Phase1: 4 years; Phase 2: 5 years
Anaphylaxis 3 years
IBS-C/CIC 5 years
Flu 4 years

Premium Location

Decisions regarding placement of the Solutions at the Shelf™ information dispenser were made based on such factors as shopper traffic, patient demographics, and proximity to products that treat secondary symptoms or comorbid conditions.

Category Store Section Placement of Solutions at the ShelfTM Placement Rationale
Type 2 Diabetes Analgesics Heavily-shopped section of the store, often near ancillary products related to the condition
Dry Eye Eye Drops Enabled brands to reach an appropriate audience of consumers who were actively seeking solutions or eye-related symptoms and conditions
Anaphylaxis Allergy Near the top selling cold/allergy/sinus OTC brand, to target consumers who suffer from allergies
IBS-C/CIC Laxatimes OTC laxative products are often the consumer’s first line of treatment for symptoms
Flu Cold/Cough Target audience sees the dispenser when they are most likely to need the information
image description


The Solutions at the Shelf™ programs that occurred over a longer duration generated excellent results. The non-seasonal chronic condition brands as well as the seasonal brands experienced increased volume over time and produced a strong return on investment.

Category Patient Value ROI
Type 2 Diabetes $34.39
Dry Eye $14.53
Anaphylaxis $11.82
IBS-C/CIC $5.50
Flu $7.97

ROI represents an average over the program duration