Practicing Empathetic Marketing in the Life Sciences

Empathetic marketing should be standard practice across industries. When we lead with empathy, we recognize people as individuals with specific needs, values, and characteristics. Without empathy, a customer might as well be a piggy bank marketers are trying to break open.



One commendable moment of empathy in the life sciences that comes to mind is this sweet video of a doctor making a baby's first shots as painless as possible. The doctor, imagining the stress the experience may cause the little one, sings and prepares the baby for the impact of the shot with gentle pokes and tickles.

The baby is smiling and giggling after the needle goes in, rather than crying. It's heartwarming to watch. All it takes is a little extra time and kindness.

Apply that same degree of empathy to your pharma marketing efforts to connect with patients on a personal level.

Patient centricity

One way to practice empathetic marketing is by adopting patient centricity as a marketing model. In essence, patient centricity is treating the patient as the sun, physicians, drug companies, marketers, etc. all revolving around the needs of the patient.

Patient centricity is inextricable from patient perspective. To put the patient first, you must do your best to understand what it’s like to live in their body, with whichever affliction they face.

Excedrin employs empathetic marketing

In a 2017 Excedrin commercial, viewers see the world, in this case, a kitchen, through the eyes of a pastry chef suffering from migraine with aura.



As the chef is hit with demand after demand, a migraine strikes, heightening the clanging of pots and disrupting their vision. A high-pitched ringing sounds, as if our ears are ringing too. We get a glimpse of what a migraine would feel like, minus the ache.

Excedrin takes empathetic marketing to new heights by forcing it to some extent. When watching the commercial, you can't choose to avoid the migraine simulation unless you close your eyes and block your ears.

A less intense way to draw out empathy, though still immersive, is through storytelling. Think of those commercials that show mothers smiling through invisible pain as they try to play with their children.

In those cases, the marketers are demonstrating their understanding of their potential customers while also trying to educate viewers, eliciting empathy in the process. A double dosing of empathy.


With empathy comes respect. To convey respect, marketers should collect data on patients to tailor promotional content to their needs. Patients have enough to worry about. Make it easier for them by sharing relevant content at optimal times.

Taking a patient-centric approach is the future of pharma marketing. Start prioritizing patients now.

With STORYSOFT, you can increase patient engagement through personalization. Learn more.

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