The determinants of brand advocacy by healthcare professionals: an invariance analysis of doctors vs pharmacists
Over the last decade the pharmaceutical market has become increasingly more competitive mainly due to cheap generic medicine imports from countries like India. Well-known branded companies have dominated the pharmaceutical market for the last century, but know find themselves battling against generic companies simply because they cannot manufacture at the same low costs. Original brand companies can only restrict generic companies by maintaining and improving the relationships which were created with their business-to-business customers over the past 100 years. Creating brand advocates of a company’s brand and product will be the ultimate objective of original brand companies in the current environment. Brand advocacy is one of the very few reasons why business-to-business consumers still prefer well-known brands over the cheaper generics. Doctors and pharmacists are seen as the business-to-business customers of pharmaceutical companies. However, doctors and pharmacists do not conduct their businesses in the same manner, and it is plausible that different techniques will need to be used to create brand advocacy. Therefore, the research question is not only what factors influence brand advocacy by doctors and pharmacists, but are the factors that influence brand advocacy behaviour invariant between doctors and pharmacists? An empirical study has been conducted in order to identify the factors that influence brand advocacy by doctors and pharmacists. Data were obtained by applying a quantitative approach to data gathering. A non-probability sample was used with the sample population consisting of doctors and pharmacists scripting and recommending pharmaceutical products on a daily basis. Overall the predictive validity of both the doctor and pharmacist models was good. In the pharmacist model the empirical results supported nine of the twelve hypothesized determinants of brand advocacy, while in the doctor model seven of the twelve hypothesised determinants were supported. It was also established that there are differences between the hypothesized determinants of doctors and pharmacists. It can be concluded that brand advocacy does in fact play an important role in influencing brand advocacy by doctors and pharmacists. However, it can also be concluded that the different determinants of brand advocacy are germane between doctors and pharmacists. Pharmaceutical manufacturers need to use different processes and strategies of creating brand advocacy by doctors and pharmacists. Manufacturers need to tailor the strategy according to the specific determinants that have the biggest influence on brand advocacy for either a doctor or a pharmacist.