Lessons from @IntuitiveSurg – Three Ways to Build a Consumer Brand Without DTC Advertising


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Robotic surgery has great consumer appeal. But it wasn’t always that way, and patients definitely prefer one brand – Intuitive Surgical’s DaVinci robot. Consumer preference helps drives system sales and ongoing device usage. We can learn a lot from Intuitive.

“Build it and they will come” doesn’t work when it comes to new medical procedures. For patients, unfamiliarity and unawareness breeds anxiety. Patients don’t come, and many companies experience slower-than-planned early revenue growth (aka the valley of death).

Treating and referring physicians have precious little time to explain new procedures during typical office visits. So most medical device companies create patient brochures for physicians to hand out, posters and videos for providers to display, and patient-friendly websites for additional research. Then they hope for the best.

Big pharma, on the other hand, goes big with Direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising. Who doesn’t know the Nexium purple pill for heartburn? Valeant and Astra-Zeneca even advertised during the 2016 SuperBowl. Pharma experience makes one thing abundantly clear: a strong consumer brand can really drive prescriptions and brand preference. Yet for most medical device companies, DTC is simply out of reach.

That didn’t stop Intuitive and its DaVinci robotic surgical system. So how have they built the DaVinci brand?

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