Helping Make Hair Loss History

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Statement of the Problem
Merck needs to develop a marketing strategy to launch its new hair loss product, Propecia®. The strategy should determine the target segment, product positioning, and the most effective marketing mix.

Issues and Analysis
The Food and Drug Administration's restrictions on direct to consumer (DTC) advertising restricts content and type of advertising. The FDA allows only three types of advertising for prescription drugs: brand name, indication or both. A key decision for Merck is which type of advertisement to use. A "product claim" ad can mention both the brand name of the drug and the problem it will correct, but it will also have to include a list of major side effects. "Reminder" ads could mention the brand of the drug, but not mention what the drug is for. "Help-seeking" ads allowed for un-branded ads that would encourage men to seek a doctor's advice if they were concerned about hair loss. The right advertising should have an informational appeal emphasizing problem solving (Propecia® stops hair loss). The requirement to include side effects in product claim ads, a less than 2 percent possibility of sexual dysfunction, is difficult to address in a 30 or 60 second advertisement. Consumer behavior regarding Male Pattern Hair Loss (MPHL) will impact the decision to purchase a hair loss product. Consumers with MPHL wait too long to seek treatment, seek prescription remedies as a last resort, and are reluctant to admit they have a hair loss problem. MPHL occurs in 30 to 40 million American men; however hair loss is slow and can go undetected for a long time. Patients that would be helped by Propecia® are men in the beginning stages of hair loss; however this group is unlikely to realize they have a problem and would see fewer benefits because they are compelled to action only after the hair loss is obvious. Men that seek aesthetic remedies like mechanical solutions also see fewer benefits because their hair loss reaches a more...
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