Bringing generative AI to the brand planning process: what marketers need to know


Bringing generative AI to the brand planning process: what marketers need to know


AI, and especially generative AI (GenAI), is growing at warp speed. It’s a part of everything we do, including the annual brand planning process. Yet is it being embraced as quickly as it should be? Probably not.

For the past two years, we’ve surveyed executives across the life sciences industry. It’s a way we can hear anonymously from leaders about what’s on their minds, and it also allows us the opportunity to then tailor our services to help them in the future.

This year, we asked this panel of 70+ leaders about the usage of Gen AI in the planning process. To our surprise, less than half are currently leveraging or intending to leverage generative AI for brand planning in 2024. But why? Why aren’t senior teams embracing it more when it can do so much for them and their brands?

Drawing from our firsthand experiences collaborating with clients and leading technology partners over the past two years, here’s what we found.

  1. Generative AI-sourced synthetic data should be considered as a reliable source of qualitative data for both patient and HCP research, especially useful for exploratory research, bullet-proofing your ideas and getting exposure to other perspectives to strengthen your forecasting.
  2. Generative AI-sourced synthetic data should not be relied upon for quantitative market sizing, as there continues to be critical issues of reliability, where synthetic quantitative data can deliver random and noisy results.
  3. Incorporating synthetic patient and HCP panels into brand planning forecasting can boost forecasting accuracy, enabling marketers to explore various marketing scenarios and test audience responses to potential messaging strategies.
  4. Consider how generative AI might be used to support, augment and even create new tactics, such as synthetic video. Gen AI can do a lot and a lot fast. Synthetic video if not already should be on the radar for brands as they plan ahead.
  5. Finally, can Gen AI help to improve the medical, legal, and regulatory review process? We think so, and we’re doing this right now in our work with AWS to bring a new solution to life. When used correctly, Gen AI can help to ensure the accuracy and compliance of claims.

The good, the bad and the challenges ahead for brand planners

Beyond the realm of generative AI, this year’s survey uncovered encouraging insight for teams from across the pharmaceutical and life sciences industry.

  • 86 percent of leaders believe in the overarching value of brand planning output, with deliverables helping meet customer and business goals
  • 4 out of 5 respondents are sufficiently equipped and experienced to leverage digital capabilities as part of their brand plan, up a significant 15 percent from last year
  • While down 4 percent from last year, 78 percent of respondents still believe their brand planning reflected the latest in customer insights, including patients, healthcare professionals, payer organizations, and other influencers.

However, as many of us can personally attest to, great opportunities remain to improve the efficacy and efficiency of brand planning, with problem areas resulting from significant year-over-year declines in the following areas:

  • Just over half of respondents agreed that data and advanced analytics played a growing role in their brand plan compared to the previous year. This response was down 32 percent from the 2023 results.
  • Only 1 in every 2 leaders agreed that a consistent approach to brand planning across brands and portfolios within their organization allowed for an efficient use of resourcing, including time and financial investments. This was a 21 percent decline compared with 2023, representing a worrying trend.

Further, in a sad state of affairs for brand planning during 2023 and opportunities for 2024, only:

  • 54 percent agree with the statement, “In comparison to peer organizations of similar size in the market, I consider our brand planning process to be significantly superior in efficacy and efficiency.”
  • 54 percent agree with the statement, “We effectively measure success in terms of execution against our brand plan and market results.”
  • 56 percent agree with the statement, “Our external partners (e.g., agencies, market researchers, consultants) collaborated effectively and integrate their contributions for the betterment of the brand plan.”

Where do we go from here, brand planners?

Commercialization and marketing planning can often feel overwhelmed by the responsibility and not know where to start. Some may be seeking a tactical plan that meets brand imperatives, or they may be struggling to gain alignment across agencies and peers. Every case is unique.

As leaders, we owe it to ourselves and each other to tap into the tools and resources we have available, including the right partners. Finding the right tools, the right partners and the right process to optimize what next year and beyond looks like is critical. Let’s embrace the future of Gen AI, let’s support each other, and let’s continue to push buttons to help us be better tomorrow at what we’re doing today. Because in the end, a patient will benefit from your work and learn about a drug that could help them. That’s powerful stuff.

John Kenny, PhD, is Executive Vice President and Head of Strategic Planning at EVERSANA INTOUCH. He brings more than three decades of senior branding experience to the industry and can be reached at [email protected].
Sean Rapson, Senior Partner with EVERSANA CONSULTING, is an experienced brand and strategy consultant with 20+ years of experience leading brand transformation programs. He can be reached at [email protected].