Share of voice

Share of voice is a marketing term. Share of voice measures the percentage of media spending by a company compared to the total media expenditure for the product, service, or category in the market.

So, what? Well, here is the so what. It has been shown, by actual, evidence based research, that the larger the share of voice of any given company the larger its market share turns out to be. Bigger share of voice, bigger awareness, bigger market share. It’s blunt and takes away some of the artistry of it all but it’s true.

Now, let’s substitute a few words in our understanding of share of voice and see what that can tell us.

Firstly let’s confirm the definition of a product.

In marketing terms a product is ‘anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use or consumption‘ (Kotler, P). You can read more about this in The Pharmacy Marketing Formulary. By this definition products include ideas so we are suddenly in a space where, if you substitute the word ‘company’ for ‘speaker’ in our understanding of share of voice we have pause for thought.

Another way of talking about share of voice, say in relation to a trade show, measures the percentage of stage time by a speaker compared to the total speaker time for the show in relation to the ideas shared. Think about this over multiple shows and things get interesting.

So who had what share of voice at recent pharmacy trade shows?

New is the new new

New ideas are the lifeblood from whence change flows. So it is useful to look at how many of the speakers at said trade shows were new in 2021 and how many were returning.

DOSE analysis of keynote speaker novelty at the Pharmacy Show 2019 vs 2021

We can see that there were indeed more new speakers in 2021 vs returning speakers. Lots of fresh perspectives perhaps, the opportunity for new ideas, new points of view and novel ways of looking at the world. Of course, if everything is always new then there may well be too little stability. So a balance, wherever it lies, is most likely the optimum scenario.

Stimulation and challenges to the status quo yes, but a status quo to be challenged none the less. Just short of three quarters of speakers at the 2021 show were new compared to 2019. Understandable in some senses seeing as how the rest of the world has changed and people move on from institutional roles.

What is unclear at this time is whether the speakers who were new in 2021 were new, new so to speak, or whether they have spoken in years prior to 2019.

Who speaks?

Also of interest is who speaks and on what basis they are doing so. We have looked at this from the perspective of whether speakers represented an established institution such as a representative body or commissioner, a sponsor of the show, front line practitioners or instigators of change such as independent people with something to say.

DOSE analysis of keynote speaker source at the Pharmacy Show 2019

In 2019 the vast majority of speakers appeared to be from established industry institutions with the negotiator and local representatives, representative bodies and the NHS making up the majority of this. There was then a slice of speaker time that gave the sponsors a share of voice.

DOSE analysis of keynote speaker source at the Pharmacy Show 2021

Contrast that with the same analysis in 2021 and a different picture emerges. The established institution segment shrank a fair bit. It was still there and it’s important that these organisations and their people speak. The sponsor segment disappeared altogether. The largest segment was new vs 2019 and involved speakers from the frontline, representing themselves in their capacity as practitioners. Finally a second new segment, although smaller than the other two, was made up of instigators of change such as people expanding the P to OTC switch world or in fact, DOSE. Hi.

Of course data can be cut any which way you like but we have completed this analysis on faith and it seems that there was a significant shift over the lost year and in the face of the pandemic.

If what thou speak’st speak not of remedy…

How did the conversation itself shift. Our look at share of voice requires a look at who said it, which we have done, but it would be incomplete without a look at what they said. Share of voice is the multiplier of ideas in this context.

We categorised keynote topics in 2019 and found that 41% fit into ‘NHS integration’, 18% into ‘Sponsor’, 12% into ‘Representation’, 12% into ‘Remuneration’ with 6% each going to ‘Training’, ‘Politics’ and ‘Collaboration.

In a pre-pandemic world people spoke of how we integrate with the NHS, how we are represented and remunerated and event sponsors had a decent share of voice.

We also categorised keynote topics in 2021 using the same approach and found that 27% fit into ‘Representation’, 18% into ‘Innovation’ and then 9% each into ‘Clinical’, ‘Covid’, ‘Front line’, ‘Future’, ‘Inclusivity’, ‘NHS integration’, ‘Professional identity’, ‘Regulation’ and ‘Training’.

Hard to ignore that there was a shift in terms of share of voice with our minds moving away from the things that preoccupied us before the pandemic and becoming broader and deeper in our pursuit of the ideas that help us understand our present and might be part of building a stable future.

As we know the speakers and topics are not random. They are curated by the best minds amongst us and as such we aught to recognise the changes we can see, when we look, as partly at least, a response to and reflection of a way forward.

All of the data used for this analysis is publicly available and we’d welcome your thoughts on the shifting sands and how best we navigate them.

Disclaimer: DOSE were there. We have a diminutive, but very striking, little stand from which we set forth to challenge peoples mindsets and explore the biggest challenges the profession faces and what a bright future looks like.