Big Pharma is starting to give a personality to its drugs in order to push revenues towards its annual sales target by 2018. Personality traits such as dependable, optimistic and elegant are being used to encourage people to want a specific drug.

Much of this new marketing spin is happening in the US where direct-to- consumer advertising is permitted. It’s hoped that consumers will then ask the doctor to prescribe the ‘dependable’ drug.

Fifteen well-known drugs, such as Viagra, Lipitor and Prozac, are being given ‘brand personalities’, say researchers from the John Molson business school, a technique that has been used for years by Apple, Coca-Cola and other major manufacturers.

The personalities have two aspects: competence and innovation. So as well as being dependable, drugs are also being promoted as unique and original. This new marketing strategy is a necessary next step for Big Pharma as it moves towards global annual sales of $1.3 trillion by 2018 in the face of stiff competition from generics and tough regulation.

(Source: Journal of Consumer Marketing, 2013; 30: 583)
Image courtesy of sixninepixels at