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Sanna - When the elite chose to exclude themselves from 'quality' and 'affordable' healthcare

Problem: We want to make 'quality' healthcare 'affordable' and accessible to all. But there is seems a resistance from consumers and users. Why? Project Duration: 4-5 months Industry: Pharmaceuticals

Project Objectives:

  1. Across SECs, build insights on customers' decision making and experience on the brand's OTC products and prescription drugs

  2. Explore the the decision levers that enables and disables recommendation of the brand's drugs & products by healthcare professionals

  3. Build insights on the impact of existing marketing communication on customers and other stakeholders

  4. Suggest behavioural science informed communication strategy to improve choice of the brand's prescription drugs and OTC products

Research Methodology:

Qualitative IDIs based on behavioural science informed hypotheses. With customers, doctors, pharmacists, sales reps, and employees across regions in India.

Project Outputs:

  1. In-depth decision-making insights across stakeholders

  2. Marketing communication strategic direction



Why did the elite choose to exclude themselves? Well, because a service that was looking to serve people from all walks of life, once served the poor alone.

The affluent often complain about highly priced pills and medical bills. But when someone comes along with cheaper drugs, certain cognitive walls raise - Quality and cheap are oxymorons. Can the service be trusted? Cheap is often for the unaffordable.

Strongly driven by the perception among doctors that ‘affluent’ patients think low price means low quality. Sometimes affordable patients seem to explicitly seek higher priced products.
And the doctors are privy to this belief - An excerpt from the final insights

One of the primary learnings one would gain from applied behavioural science is that context influences decision making. We live in a context where cheap products such as colloquially labelled Chinese products for example, are low quality. Low quality plastics were brought in to be affordable to the poor. This context of quality being inversely proportional with price has been present for generations together that it has developed a mental model: When anything 'good' is cheap, then it will be of lower quality. It has also created the desire to showcase oneself to belong to a league: A league that can afford and don't need the cheap ones.

So, even if it is big and reputed brand that brings out a service or a product that is cheap, and it is not an output of their CSR or other socially inclined initiatives, the quality of the product or service is questioned. Consumers seek transparency in how the quality is achieved.

But it was not this mental model and belief alone that drove the elite to exclude themselves from a cheaper but high quality healthcare service:

Choice Overload: For the same ailment there are too many options, varied by brand, sometimes varied by composition and varied by relief outcome. For the doctors and chemists who are often the prescribers of non-OTC and OTC drugs respectively, this choice overload is navigated through trial & error with patient care.

Long standing service providers are easy to trust: Sometimes choice overload is also easily navigated by choosing the one that has stood the test of time.


Between these complexities of trust and choice, what is the direction forward to let the service be elite-inclusive? Breaking down of decision making into logics and beliefs often lead us to assume that humans are rational beings. When we have a long way to go to be a true Vulcan with our decision making.

We are animals. Just like any other animal, our emotions primarily drive our decisions. Logical reasoning is secondary to our nature that can be developed to better inform our emotions and eventual decisions. In this project context, factors of trust and quality were less derived from rational thought and reasoning. But more from the 'emotion of trust and quality'. Meaning, 4 key indicators contributed to the consumers' and stakeholders' development of affective trust over a product:

In many situations the above factors draw us to their services. Thereby non-consciously developing affective trust in their service and products. Recall Nano by Tata?

However in this risk environment of healthcare that is the answer to our survival and throbbing pains, trust is better augmented with transparency and value connection with consumers and other stakeholders.

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