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n my previous article, I talked about how to leverage the human sciences to design successful engagement models for the pharmaceutical industry.

I highlighted how deep qualitative work is now more necessary than ever to make the most of our data in the era of hybrid engagement. I stressed the importance of two elements:

1) truly deep and bold qualitative research to understand why HCPs do what they do and say what they say, and

2) a robust framework to make sense of these whys, use them to create solid profiles, and make them actionable.

In this article I want to talk about the second point: the framework that allows us to make sense of the outcomes of the research, prioritize information and communicate it in a way that is clear and emotionally resonant, in order to transform it into tangible outcomes.

Specifically, I want to introduce the framework we have created at A Piece of Pie to do just that: our Emotionality Framework.

Introducing the Emotionality Framework

A Piece of Pie has 20 years of experience studying people’s emotions and behavior and developing dependable strategies to make sense of qualitative data. Building on this experience, and thanks to the multidisciplinary expertise of our team, we have developed a framework that helps us analyze people’s emotional drives and identify opportunities to connect with them.

The Emotionality Framework is a comprehensive categorization of human emotional drives. We have identified more than 300 emotional needs (such as the need to feel safe, the need to feel valued, the need to feel in control, and many more) and we have grouped them into 6 broader drives or “pillars of connection”: agency, salience, change, anticipation, reciprocity, and belonging.

The 6 pillars of connection are common to all human beings, and they are what drives human behavior. Source: A Piece of Pie

Of course, although we all have needs that belong to each drive, not all of them influence all our actions, all the time, all at once: some needs may be more relevant in certain circumstances, such as when buying groceries, when talking to strangers, or during a business meeting.

And different people give more weight to certain needs over others, for instance, some might prioritize salience over reciprocity, or vice versa. Understanding which needs matter the most to which people under which circumstances is the key to create powerful profiles for meaningful engagement.

The Emotionality Framework may be used as a segmentation tool and to create Personae. But in our experience, it has proved most useful in analyzing existing Personae, as a tool to add a deeper layer to connect deeper.

A closer look at emotional needs

Let’s look at one particular example: in my first article (“To connect with HCPs, get to know the person behind the robe”) I talked about Eva, a 41-year-old dermatologist from Barcelona. I want to talk about her a little more.

Eva is a perfectionist. As a student, she was always top of her class. Now that she is a mother of two and a clinical dermatologist, she wants to do everything at her absolute best: being a great mother, excelling at her job, never missing her Pilates class on Monday mornings… Sometimes all this can be a little overwhelming.

Like you and I and all human beings, she is driven by the 6 pillars of connection of our framework: she needs agency, salience, change, anticipation, reciprocity and belonging. But, in this case, what she needs the most is a balance between agency and change:

Source: A Piece of Pie

Agency is the need for a feeling of control over one’s actions and their consequences, for a sense of independence and self-reliance. It corresponds to the fear of losing control.

When someone strongly values agency, this is reflected in behavior such as self-sufficient decision-making, a tight control over one’s schedule and a no-nonsense approach to conversation and interaction. Eva is just like that.

Change is the need to for variety, novelty, the wish for things to be different and surprising. It is also the desire to feel up to date, to keep up with a fast-changing world.

It corresponds to the fear of stagnation, of being left behind.

When referring to consumers, the need for change is about new products and services, it’s about feeling modern. When referring to HCPs, it is about feeling up-to-date and having access to innovation, to work smarter.

Eva desires a sense of agency because she has so many things to do, and she wants to do them all perfectly. She needs to feel very much in control of actions, her schedule, and her time to make the most of it. She doesn’t have any time to waste. However, because she is always so busy, she also fears being left behind. One the one hand, her desire to be up to date is part of her need to feel in control. On the other hand, it is an expression of her curiosity and interest for novelty and change.

From these needs, we can deduce what her expectations are, and how to fulfill them to connect with her appropriately and meaningfully.

From drives to connection

Eva has a “don’t waste my time” attitude. She is very autonomous and independent in seeking information and fears that pharmaceutical representatives might end up wasting her time. However, because staying up to date is so time-consuming, she genuinely welcomes non-intrusive to-the-point reminders and updates that can make her life easier.

To help her feel in control, pharmaceutical representatives should maintain low frequency, formal and efficient interactions. In-person visits should be limited to requested appointments. To help her feeling independent, it would be ideal to tailor touchpoints, channels and information to her stated needs and interests. This could be achieved through a simple and straightforward online form to be completed in under 5 minutes (she doesn’t have time to waste!).

To help her feel up to date, in the most efficient possible way, she would welcome weekly or bi-weekly email updates tailored to her areas of interest: a simple, synthetic bullet-point list of relevant news about new treatment with links to further readings. Not one unnecessary word.

Source: A Piece of Pie

Eva’s primary emotional drives are agency and change. But other physicians may be moved by a desire for agency and salience, or anticipation and belonging, or any other combination of the 6 fundamental pillars of connection. For each combination, it is possible to elicit the corresponding expectations to fulfil and the actions to take to generate a meaningful connection.

3 benefits of using A Piece of Pie’s Emotionality Framework (EF), in a nutshell:

  • EF helps you identify the emotional drives, which are the real drivers of behavior, beyond data.

Today, pharmaceutical companies have access to an unprecedented amount of data and keep expanding their databases. AI and machine learning tools are available to cluster it and analyze it. But despite having all these data, they are just scratching the surface of who doctors really are and why they behave the way they do. The Emotionality Framework allows us to identify what truly drives people’s behavior so that engagement is meaningful and changes behavior.

  • EF allows you to build solid, realistic, and relatable profiles, beyond digital behavior segmentation

Digital behavior segmentation is now easier than ever. However, it produces flat, mechanical, and unrelatable profiles. Emotional profiling guarantees a powerful customer segmentation which is: 1. Solid — coherent and replicable throughout databases; 2. Realistic — credible, convincing, and matching real-life context; and 3. Relatable — humanized and emotionally engaging.

  • EF galvanizes your teams, thus keeping them motivated and facilitating mindset change.

Today, the pharmaceutical workforce across a variety of teams is being asked to undergo sudden and radical changes. As marketing, medical and sales teams are being propelled into omnichannel, they often get misaligned, feel confused, and loose motivation. Providing a solid, realistic, and relatable profile segmentation can help teams find clarity and focus to align effectively. In particular, the pharmaceutical salesforce, can more easily adapt to the new omnichannel mindset if they are able to recognize, and relate to, truly human profiles — rather than a digital segmentation.