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Broadening a Niche Brand with Patient Co-Creation

We used innovative patient research and qualitative methodologies to re-position a niche pharma brand and develop an impactful patient awareness campaign.


A successful niche brand is a good thing – except when the niche positioning is unintended and limiting the true potential of the brand.

A leading global pharmaceutical company was marketing a medicine in the Asia Pacific region to women in a certain demographic. While this positioning successfully explained the medicine’s unique benefits, it also unintentionally imparted niche status on the brand for this group of patients. To widen the patient pool, the company wanted to nudge the position to not only focus on this specific benefit but other lead benefits that also had strong potential to increase the therapy's market (and growth potential). To communicate these benefits, the company was considering an unbiased, unbranded communication resource targeting a broader patient cohort. The resource would provide information and educate the wider audience about many key treatment issues and, more importantly, motivate the new target audience to discuss these issues with their healthcare professionals.

Unsure about whether patients and physicians would accept this brand repositioning, the company sought counsel on whether to proceed with this awareness campaign, and if so, how to best launch it. The company engaged Cerner Enviza, a global leader in patient research and qualitative methodologies that provides unique insight and real-world answers to some of the healthcare industry’s toughest questions.


Exemplifying the strength in a WPP Partnership, Cerner Enviza engaged with its sister company in Australia, Sudler & Hennessey, to carry out a three-phase research programme via an online community panel of patients. The proposed solution was unique in several regards.

First, by surveying the same pool of respondents throughout the three phased programme, we captured direct insight on how patients’ perspectives evolved and how respondents believed the campaign should be launched – in effect patients, clients and physicians co-created the programme. Secondly, by combining forces, Cerner Enviza, Sudler and the client formed a cross-functional team throughout the creation of the programme, allowing an immersive and streamlined engagement where all parties had a greater sense of ownership in the outcome.


Phase 1, conducted in mid-2016, consisted of obtaining patient insights on patient–disease relationships across their journey, as well as identifying opportunities and barriers that would influence campaign message development.

Phase 2, conducted in late-2016, consisted of developing potential campaign messages (derived from Phase 1). Testing these messages with target audiences, provided our client with “Go/No Go” recommendations on whether to proceed with the awareness campaign, but importantly areas of refinement on the campaign strategy if it was a “Go”.


Phase 3, conducted from December 2016 to March 2017, consisted of developing campaign concepts, and testing these concepts with the target audience, and drafting recommendations for launching the campaign. Our online community panel provided our client with critical insights about the viability and effectiveness of the awareness campaign for advancing the company’s repositioning of its brand. The engagement allowed the company to make an informed decision to proceed and provided direction on the launch of the campaign and potential challenges they would need to overcome beforehand. The engagement provided yet another opportunity for a WPP Partnership to successfully deliver on a client’s objectives.