What Activity Trackers Can Teach Pharma Marketers

Dear House Rules,

I got one of those activity trackers over the holidays, and it started me wondering—do they really work? My company manufactures a statin and a diabetes drug. Should we include information about activity trackers in our unbranded communications?


Step-By-Step Fitness

Dear Step:

That’s an interesting idea, but make sure you understand what activity trackers can and can’t do. While they can help patients be more aware of their activity levels, and perhaps use that awareness to increase their exercise, they don’t necessarily lead to weight loss.

In fact, one recent study showed that young adults on a long-term healthy diet and exercise program using a wearable activity tracking device lost 5.2 pounds less over 24 months than a group on a similar program but using a website to track their progress.

“We should not simply tell everyone to go and buy an activity monitor and that it will help them to lose weight,” said the study’s lead author John M. Jakicic of the University of Pittsburgh department of health and physical activity.

“There is so much more that we need to learn about how these devices lead to behavior change.” It’s also important to remember that both groups improved their body composition, fitness, physical activity and diet, according to a report in JAMA.

When using activity trackers as part of a marketing message, be sure you don’t overpromise. That can lead to disappointed customers. When patients understand that wearable trackers can be one part of their fitness equation, they’re more likely to view their individual results with more equanimity.

Also, make sure to remind customers that weight loss isn’t the only endpoint that might change with a wearable device. Says Jakicic, “If a wearable device is what’s going to get you to exercise then I think it’s worthwhile. We know that monitoring activity behavior, and diet, is very important to weight management success, so making it easier to do that and in real-time should in theory improve success.”

These devices can empower patients to be active participants in their own healthcare, and the message that your product can be another resource to help them reach their optimum state of health is a powerful one.

Activity trackers can be a useful tool for patients to work toward their fitness goals, but like any tool, they have to be used properly to be effective. To craft an effective marketing strategy, team up with an expert agency such as Xavier Creative House. We’d love to help.

About Xavier Creative House

Founded in 2013, Xavier Creative House (XCH) is an award-winning healthcare creative agency specializing in pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical device. XCH’s global team of brand builders and healthcare marketers, tech-savvy go-getters, and innovative dream-vetters are passionate about the big idea that changes behavior in the healthcare marketplace. They believe life is about connections and that healthcare is about life. That is why XCH delivers bold and evocative creative solutions, amplified by meaningful technology, to energize brands and authentically connect with patients and HCPs.

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