Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Stuart Hehir, creative director at Pegasus, on the launch of Healthscapes – the agency's new framework for understanding people's decision making in health, finding out what motivates consumers and the six drivers for influencing decisions...
For those that don't know you, briefly tell us a little about Pegasus and what you do
We are a comms consultancy, based along the coast from Brighton. We are listed as a top ten healthcare consultancy, but we prefer to describe ourselves as a consultancy that specialises in healthy conversations. Whether public or private sector, we only work on campaigns that involve healthy conversations, which takes us into almost every sector you can think of - conversations between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals, supermarket retailers with shoppers or healthy beauty brands with celebrity influencers – on a national and global level.
You've just launched Healthscapes – tell us a bit about it.
Healthscapes is our own framework for better understanding people's decision making in health – or to put it more simply, why people make the decision they do. The framework is built around six key drivers that our research identified as being most critical to influencing decisions. We believe that by framing questions around these key drivers at the insight and planning stages of campaigns, comms professionals can better explore the main motivations at play and in turn, generate better insights.
Why has understanding consumer behaviour become more complicated?
The broader health landscape has evolved remarkably over the last five years. We've seen a shift towards lifestyle-based disease models, economic pressures have led to a greater emphasis on measurable outcomes and the explosion in social media in recent years means people are playing a greater role in decisions concerning their own health. Understanding the key motivations and influences behind people's decision making in health is more important than ever for those businesses, charities and public health bodies that have previously focused their communication through health care professionals.
Do you think health companies really understand consumer behaviour?
I think it's fair to say that in the past, thanks to its regulated environment, traditional healthcare companies had a pretty clear route to the public via healthcare professionals, so less time was spent understanding consumers. Now, largely thanks to technological advances and the social media explosion, the public is better informed and far more connected, so the need to understand behaviour is greater than ever. We have a good blend of people from consumer and traditional healthcare backgrounds, which means we are perfectly placed to bridge the gap. It has allowed us to go well beyond the traditional healthcare client base and have healthy conversations on behalf of high street retailers and supermarkets, financial services companies, beauty brands and through into animal health.
What are the six drivers for influencing decisions that you uncovered?
We explored a number of models that are already widely used, but didn't feel that any met all of our needs. Following a literature review, brainstorm, focus groups and a survey of 10,000 people, we settled on the following drivers that we believe are the key to understanding what motivates us:
- Family Impact
- Coping Strategies
How long did it take to develop Healthscapes?
From start to finish, it's taken around 12 months, partly due to balancing it with our client work, but also because we wanted to get it right – which I believe we have.
Why is planning so important when putting together a health campaign?
Planning is everything, simply because the stakes can be so high. Our mantra is 'inspiring healthy decisions' and clients come to us expecting us to be able to help them positively affect the health of people, whether that's helping them give up smoking, make small steps towards eating a healthier diet or simply choosing the right OTC medicine to address their specific illness. Successful campaigns are built on a solid strategy; and the only way to establish a solid strategy is to have built it on solid facts and insight.
You've actually used Healthscapes to shape some of the campaigns you've worked on – talk us through an example of how it works.
We started using it across the business at the end of last year – both internally, to shape campaigns and as the basis for client planning days. I recently ran a two day, interagency workshop, using Healthscapes as the first stage. We spent almost the entire first day simply looking at everything we knew about different audiences, but being guided by the drivers. By focusing on the key areas, we were better able to explore all the motivations at play in greater detail. We then looked at some of the most interesting insights in relations to the objectives we were trying to achieve, which in turn became the focus for the brainstorm workshops later on. By the end of two days we had three or four very strong campaign platforms that everyone was able to go away and build on.
Why are you one of the only agencies investing in this area?
I don't know that we are. All I can say is that we feel insight is a critical part of the comms process and deserves adequate investment and focus. We are not claiming that Healthscapes is a silver bullet – although sometimes it can be - but we believe in it. That said, we can always improve and invest, so I don't see this as anything other than part of an evolution. I recently talked to a very senior strategic comms head - someone who has seen hundreds of agency pitches in recent years. He told me that he could tell within five minutes of the upfront slides of an agency pitch whether the consultancy was credible or not. I want to make sure we are always seen as being firmly in the credible camp.