Editor's note: Bob Klein is chief insights and experience officer at clinical trial enrollment company Continuum Clinical, Northbrook, Ill. Sid Khaitan is an associate manager of the insights and experience group at Continuum Clinical.

Let’s say you are a marketer and your target audience is made up of middle-class female Boomers. You would not develop a brand or consider crafting a strategy for how and when to reach these women without fully understanding their motivations, their attitudes and behaviors. But so often in the pharmaceutical industry, that’s exactly what marketers do. This is particularly true on the R&D side of pharma, where getting enough qualified patients to enroll in clinical trials is the primary barrier to getting a drug to market. 

What success would pharma find if it treated potential patients more like traditional consumers, taking cues from market research and brand tactics routinely used in consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketing?

As our notions of “consumer” and “patient” continue to converge into the singular “human” perspective, the inextricable links between CPG and pharma marketing can’t be ignored. Disruption across the pharmaceutical sector has shifted the industry paradigm from blockbuster drugs to generic products, placing people back in the center of the equation. 

Accepting that market research across CPG and pharma is indeed more similar than different opens the door to learning from the past, optimizing the present and ideating the future. When we see past the labels, we can unearth a new world of insights by confidently juxtaposing retailers to clinical trial sites, influencers to KOLs, products to medications and consumers to patients.

CPG marketers have been navigating through an era of consumerism for quite some time, building powerful capabilities for analyzing and resonating with their audiences. Market research has been embraced as a core fu...