What’s the difference between Advil and isobutylpropanoicphenolic acid? About $8.24 and a good story.
Or, if you look at it another way, about $114 million a year.
The truth is, there isn’t any difference between isobutylpropanoicphenolic acid (ibuprofen) and Advil. Chemically they are exactly the same. The effect on pain and inflamation is exactly the same. The dose form and the strength are exactly the same. And yet, even when they appear side by side on the shelf, consumers willingly reach past the generic ibuprofin and grab the Advil despite the fact that it costs over eight dollars more. For exactly the same thing.
Pfizer spends more than $114 million dollars every year on marketing/advertising to tell a story about how Advil is the number one pain medication for joint pain. They claim it’s faster acting than Tylenol. And, the story goes, it not only works on pain, but also reduces fever fast. Generics could tell exactly the same story, but they don’t.
Like all good brand stories, the story Pfizer tells in its marketing creates a strong emotional attachment for consumers. Consumers pay more not only for the drug in the bottle, but the psychological comfort that the familiar brand name and packaging provide. It looks more effective (thanks to packaging cues), it sounds more effective (we recognize the brand), and we believe it is more effective (it costs more so the ingredients must be higher quality, right?).
Would you pay an extra $8 just to feel better about your purchase? Chances are, you (and millions of people just like you) already have.