However, none of that really matters.
Because the PR and comms that they maintain are very much after the fact. Virgin isn’t trying to persuade you that you’ll have an outstanding experience when you fly with them. Rather, it is ensuring that you actually have that outstanding experience every time you set foot on one of their aircraft. Or so their customers seem to be saying. I’ve never flown Virgin, so if you know different, tell me.
A recent AdAge article details the reasons why Virgin America enjoys such loyal customer support. The airline’s focus on their passengers’ digital requirements, wifi across their entire fleet, and the provision of an on-demand food service and mood lighting (you’d better like purple, is all I’m saying 😉 ) all speak of an in-flight experience that is designed around customer need.
As it happens, I’m a Virgin silver card holder as a consequence of some financial service provider tie-in I signed up to several years ago, but have never flown with them. Having learned more about them, I will certainly consider using them next time I fly a route they cover.
Because marketing is not service.
Service is service.
As we begin to consider what the era of personalized medicine is going to look like, it is already self-evident that the concept is going to have to extend beyond the science. Every pharma company is going to need a client-focused supremo like Virgin America‘s Porter Gale leading a team dedicated to ensuring that patient needs are understood, assuaged, and preempted as much as is feasibly possible.
Buying an airplane ticket and embarking upon a regimen of medication are not the same things.
No patient is a willing customer.
However, a team that is not focused on the patient as the consumer of their products, but rather as a person for whom the taking of a medication is merely one facet of their living with a condition is making a significant reorientation.
What could that mean in practice?
It could, for example, mean making a point of finding some small but significant ways to help those living with cystic fibrosis and those who care for them. That would require understanding what the experience of using nebulizers is like, the physical effects that bronchodilators and mucus thinners have upon the user, and what the accompanying CF physical therapy regimen feels like to receive, and give. It would mean understanding how people with CF feel before, during and after therapy, and what would make it easier for them to prepare for, receive and recuperate from treatment.
It could mean helping them with concierge services that help them prepare for yearly hospitalization sessions, and provide lifestyle support. It could even mean advocating on the behalf of patients in order to get other service providers to attend to their needs, such as lobbying airlines to provide free oxygen on flights for those with CF (now I’m wondering whether Virgin America does that, of course. I’ll need to ask Porter Gale :))
Why will pharma need to attend to these needs in the era of personalized medicine?
Because marketing is not care.
Care is care.
HT to Anne Marie Cunningham for conversation and a link.