Are physicians influenced by their peers when prescribing? It seems that yes, they are. Doctors are wary of the decision of his colleagues when trying to prescribe a new drug, but also when repeat prescription, as concludes the study “Social Contagion in New Product Trial and Repeat”, made by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
The study, which you can read in Marketing Science, provides an interesting differentiation when talking about the relationship between influencers and influenced people. And this could have a significant impact when making plans for marketing. Thus, study distinguishes between two types of partners: those who work together in the same team or institution, and those that are related because they belong to a professional network which provides them information or advice. According to the researchers, “there is evidence of contagion both the first time a new drug is prescribed and in successive occasions.” The main difference is that first time specialists appeal more to professional network, but not in successive drug prescriptions, as in this case they trust more in their nearest colleagues for prescribing a drug if they don’t have too many personal references.
What this study suggests is that a good marketing strategy could begin leading the campaign to influential prescribers, ie recognized leaders in the scientific community or by the endorsement of a medical society, but in a second phase all efforts must be focused on a much more personal and closer strategy to convince the prescriber and its coworkers.