Direct-to-Consumer Programs: Content Is Key to Increasing Sales


Direct-to-consumer (DTC) and direct-to-patient communications will not deliver unless they answer the question: “What does the consumer really need?”

That was the message of Consumer Health Information Corporation President Dorothy L. Smith, Pharm.D., to a “town meeting” of media and health care agency leaders, published in the September 1997 issue of Pharmaceutical Executive.

Practical content means increased sales

“It comes down to knowing what patients need to know, and how to put it into words they will understand,” Smith said.

  • Listing side effects in complicated medical terms can confuse or frighten the patient. This can lead to lost sales.

That’s where Consumer Health Information Corporation is unique. We are internationally recognized as content experts in patient education.

“Studies show that 97% of patient information materials can’t be understood by the average consumer,” Smith said.

  • The average reading level of U.S. consumers is between grades 6 and 8. Yet a random sample of DTC ads we evaluated shows that almost all of the Patient Labeling information is written at the grade 12 to 16 reading level.

“That is disturbing,” Smith said, “because the vast majority of people will never be able to understand them, and the opportunity to effectively promote your product is lost.”

Content is the key to DTC programs that deliver a good ROI.

What Every Product Manager Should Ask:
  • Do you work directly with the patient education experts developing your DTC program? Or is your agency just a “middleman,” subcontracting work out to freelancers?
  • Does the average consumer understand the labeling information in your DTC ad? Is it patient-friendly? Will the side effect information educate consumers…or alarm them?
  • Can your agency work directly with your legal and regulatory teams to incorporate additional wording requirements in a way that keeps the message patient-friendly?
  • Are your DTC follow-up materials designed to motivate consumers to continue to take appropriate actions?