Why (& How) Pharmaceutical Marketing is Adapting to Changing Consumer Trends

Category : Pharma Marketing Author : Team Amura Date Created: 14 Jan 2020

Pharmaceutical marketing is the marketing of drugs or products to medical practitioners and consumers alike. Traditionally, Rx and OTx marketing has taken various forms - free samples and sales reps, fliers and literature, events, continuous medical education, etc. The consumer healthcare segment in the Indian pharmaceutical industry is currently pegged at over USD 3 billion, and expected to grow by about 14 - 16% this year. With the sector’s rapid growth, traditional approaches to marketing and branding are being slowly overhauled to try to meet the potential of the market.

The Pharmaceutical Ecosystem

New Pharmaceutical Ecosystem

As the McKinsey Indian Pharma 2020 report puts it, “...improving customer focus will enable higher growth. The industry needs to move away from its ‘one size fits all’ approach to providing more customised messages. Marketing teams will need to play a big role in understanding the different segments of physicians, chemists and patients.”

With the integration of digital media in our daily lives, the eco-system for pharmaceutical companies as we know it has drastically changed.
The availability of e-detailing is slowly but surely completely changing the pharma industry’s relationship with doctors, and it is now easier to educate doctors about drugs and get their insights on those being prescribed. But the pharma-doctor relationship is a blog post for another time.

Today we’re focusing on consumers as the catalyst for a new era in pharma marketing.

Interestingly (though not surprisingly), the internet is more widely used for gaining information - not for entertainment, or communication.Patients now conduct online research about their problems before visiting the doctor and look up the prescribed medication after their appointment. For pharmaceutical companies, this means that the consumer is more aware than ever of the role of pharma brands in their day-to-day lives.
A connection has therefore been established, whether brands want it or not, and it’s become more and more important to build a relationship with the consumer throughout their research cycle, where they are spending the most time - online.

The focus thus shifts to pharmaceutical marketing, with the need of the hour being highly targeted strategies for consumers (patients),taking into account a shortened attention span, ad blindness, and general impatience.

As a pharma marketing company, we’re aware that there are ways to address all these limitations.

Let’s take a look at how to adopt this consumer-first strategy for your pharma brand.

Consumer triggers for buying medicines:

  1. Medical advice
    In the case of Rx drugs, prescriptions still drive the highest number of sales, availability of generic medicines notwithstanding. The question for pharmaceutical marketers is - how do you drive a higher number of prescriptions? And how do you ensure the consumer follows that prescription & keeps your brand in mind for next time?
  2. Heuristic triggers
    Familiar brands or medicines that have always been consumed or stored in the house, friends’ recommendations on medicines that have worked for them, or previous own experiences often affect purchases of certain medicines rather than a rational approach to evaluation.
  3. Symptomatic triggers
    With consumers being more aware than ever of their symptoms and medicines available, you have a lot of people doing the research online, then going to pharmacies and requesting OTC solutions to their problems.
  4. Advertising
    Information provided by the company, written info on the prospectus/leaflet of the product, product pricing, etc. that creates a preference for one product over another.

Recipe for pharmaceutical marketing in India:

  1. Lead with information
    If you sell Rx products you can’t advertise your products but consumers don’t want to see advertisements anyway! Work on educating and informing customers, buying into their attention on the screen with interesting content. You’ll become a thought leader in your subject and increase your top-of-the-mind recall among your end-users. We used this approach to educate mothers about immunity for the OTC nutritional supplement from Cipla Health, you can read more about Cipla ActivKids Immuno Boosters Case Study.
  2. Create conversations
    Know who your target audience is and then find them online. Find out where they’re spending time, posting questions, writing their opinion and create conversations around that. Don’t forget to participate in ongoing conversations too! While this needs to be done with caution, a little effort always goes a long way.
  3. Invite participation
    User-Generated Content (UGC) is a goldmine in marketing. If you can create a platform for users to interact with each other or with you, toward the end goal of information, support, or entertainment, you’ve got an active base of consumers who will be much more interested in using your products and recommending your brand!
  4. Advertise with personalization
    If you can run e-commerce campaigns, make sure you’re making the effort to segment your consumers and their triggers/pain points for potentially buying your product. Creating relevant communication for each segment will make them feel like they’re being heard & noticed by your brand and you’ll see a much higher return on your marketing spends.
  5. Create a community for your doctors
    Bring together your network of affiliated doctors with an online community of consumers. A platform that brings both consumers and doctors together will drive more patients to these doctors and hence drive more medical advice to the patients! (Remember the leading trigger for purchases?) Here’s how we did it for Glenmark Pharmaceuticals.

Here are a Few of Our Solutions to Problems Commonly Faced in the Industry Today:

Prescription drug marketing Challenges:

Loss of product differentiation in the minds of medical practitioners

Everyday, doctors have to choose between prescribing drugs by different brands with similar functional or structural analogs. How do you get them to show your drug preference?


Creating top-of-the-mind recall among doctors & physicians

In a world where there’s lesser and lesser face time with medical practitioners.


Reaching physicians, cost-effectively

With physicians substantially decreasing the amount of time allocated to each medical sales rep, it’s important to understand exactly who your target audience and how you can reach them effectively.


No attribution model for sales

Attributing sales is a common problem for pharmaceutical companies, both large and small. How do you know which channels are contributing most to sales, and hence which channels to focus on?

Prescription drug marketing Solutions:

A concentrated effort to drive patient-doctor interactions

Streamlined marketing campaigns and large content marketing initiatives that create a universe around your patients, enabling them to get in touch with your affiliated doctors. This type of patient-doctor network facilitation creates instantaneous brand differentiation in the minds of doctors.


Running brand engagement campaigns

We drive omni-channel brand engagement campaigns using websites, social media, marketing collaterals and email marketing to create conversations around your brand bring together patients with doctors in more ways than one. We begin by creating small experiments and then scale the ones that are working. This leads to faster go-live times.


Leveraging digital media to replace lowered face time with doctors

E-detailing solutions and online campaigns allow you to reach doctors without a manforce, where you know they are spending some time every day - online.


Creation of an attribution model

We’ll create an attribution model specific to your company structure and processes, so you can optimise your processes to those that bring you the most value. By focussing on the right consumers, and setting up smaller experiments to test our approaches, we’re able to drive higher marketing ROI - no waste of time or costs.

OTC drug marketing challenges:
OTC Drug Marketing Challenges-Cost-effective advertising and sales

Cost-effective advertising and sales

OTC brands have thus far relied mostly on traditional media for advertising. Think TV ads for cough syrup and pain relievers. However, this is not cost-effective and doesn’t deliver tangible, immediate results, which has created newer challenges for brands.

OTC Drug Marketing Challenges-Traditional Mass Medias

Traditional media doesn’t directly boost sales

For sales, it’s important to reach an exact audience. With traditional mass mediums, that’s far from possible. How do you ensure that your advertising efforts pay off, and instantly?

OTC Drug Marketing Challenges-Product differentiation

Product differentiation

When it comes to OTC products, customers don’t always have a preference - unless they have had contact with one particular brand before. How do you ensure that, when it’s time to buy medicine they haven’t needed before, they think of your brand?

OTC Drug Marketing Challenges-Tapping The Right Sales Channel

Tapping the right sales channel

In today’s world, a certain drug may not sell in-store even when it’s showing good numbers online - or vice versa. With a rise in e-commerce, tapping the right channel has proved to be an immense challenge for pharmaceutical companies.

OTC drug marketing solutions:
OTC Drug Marketing Solutions-Digital Advertising

Digital advertising

Amura’s digital approach involves the use of paid media, blog posts, social media and search engine-optimised content to get you maximum leads in a cost-effective manner.

OTC Drug Marketing Solutions-Creating Brand

Creating brand recall

It’s important that your brand be present throughout your potential customer’s buying cycle - we run brand campaigns that use differential communication and dynamic remarketing to ensure that you are always on top of your customer’s mind.

OTC Drug Marketing Solutions-Tapping Right Channel

Tapping the right channel for the right products

Immediate relief drugs will do better over the counter because no one has the time to wait for them to be delivered. Lifestyle health & medical products, however, have a bigger market in e-commerce. With our keen understanding, we can help you reach relevant audiences online to achieve maximum sales in each channel.

OTC Drug Marketing Solutions-Dynamic Marketing

Dynamic marketing to reach your consumers at every stage of their buying cycle

In medicine, users’ search queries distinctly change based on where they are in their discovery - from queries about the health problem to queries about drug formulation. Different consumers have a different path to purchase! We focus on all these different paths, and every stage of them, to create more engagement & loyalty.

Driving Growth for Your Pharmaceutical Brand Online:

As a growth marketing agency, we specialize in using marketing not just to run ads and drive leads, but to create loyal customers and generate real value. 
Growth marketing is essentially a data-driven marketing approach that focusses on the entire consumer funnel and delivers long-term value for your brand.

We’ve tried & tested the growth marketing approach for our pharma clients; if you’re interested in knowing more, may we suggest this blog post on the same?

To sum up the blog post, while consumer-based marketing is the need of the hour, there’s no straight line to doing it successfully! But that’s what makes it so interesting.

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Comments (55)

  Kiran Khera posted over 3 years ago

Nice article and very good information.

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  Steve posted over 3 years ago

It’s interesting to read what other people thought about how pharma marketing adapting to consumer trends and how it relates to them or their clients, as their perspective could possibly help you in the future.

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  Martin Rosing posted almost 4 years ago

Thanks for the informative blog. The topics discussed in the article are so good and useful. Thanks for sharing.

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  Tapendra Ranawat posted almost 4 years ago

Great blog. I had a question. It is mentioned that there are two important factors in RX marketing i.e medical prescription and brand thought leadership in the market. Can market thought leadership have a slight edge over medical prescription in terms of customer opting for known brands as compared to what is being presribed?

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  Arun Nayar posted almost 4 years ago

Thanks for the detailed blog, pretty much covers everything what we as a pharma marketer should look after. The biggest problem that we are facing today is getting patients to book appointments due to the covid lockdown, anything that you think should be the major focus in such a difficult situation? Would be happy to implement them.

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  Caleb posted almost 4 years ago

I will be sharing this article widely. Pharmaceutical companies have a lot to learn from this!!

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  Sylvia posted almost 4 years ago

The pharma marketing scene is changing at a high pace. It's difficult to keep up with all the changes sometimes!

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  Pink posted almost 4 years ago

Personalized advertising is one of those things that often gets overlooked. In reality it is a very powerful marketing tool.

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  Storm posted almost 4 years ago

These are some genius solutions you present here. It's a plus that they are not too complicated to implement.

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  Anny posted almost 4 years ago

Creating a community for your doctors is a novel idea. I can see how this can immensely benefit a pharma company.

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  Anderson posted almost 4 years ago

I strongly support making use of User-Generated-Content (UGC). It provides some good insight intoi what consumers think of your brand.

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  Sean posted almost 4 years ago

Thanks for the detailed delve on how pharma companies can adapt to consumer trends. I can tell a lot of research went into this :)

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  Shantel posted almost 4 years ago

You really hit the nail on the head with the prescription drug marketing solutions. It's a structured and viable way to deal with the challenges in question.

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  Laura posted almost 4 years ago

Nothing is as effective as creating brand recall. Once your brand is in your consumers' mind you can be sure to get a sale from them.

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  Louis posted almost 4 years ago

A consumer-first strategy like you explain can be og great help to a pharma brand. It connects them better to the consumers.

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  Teddy posted almost 4 years ago

The widespread use of the internet is making it possible for us to make this paradigm shift. We live in interesting times indeed.

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  Desma posted almost 4 years ago

I think the digital system should be run concurrently with the traditional systems. This is because a section of the population may be hesitant to adopt the new way of doing things.

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  Daphne posted almost 4 years ago

My only issue with digital trends are the people living in rural areas. These changes would really hurt them.

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  Olga posted almost 4 years ago

Since the integration of digital media in our daily lives, I must say a lot has changed for the better. Service delivery has never been smoother.

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  Oliver posted almost 4 years ago

I do agree that the industry needs to move away from the one size fits all philosophy. The industry is way too complicated right now for such traditional techniques to work.

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  Penny posted almost 4 years ago

Adopting digital marketing techniques can make the industry grow even faster. Not to mention it makes everything just so much easier!

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  Patricia posted almost 4 years ago

You do share some really good descriptive charts in this article. I learnt a lot and thanks a lot!

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  Marley posted almost 4 years ago

I'm just glad to see the traditional marketing methods being done away with. It's high time we saw some changes.

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  Meg W posted almost 4 years ago

"The consumer healthcare segment in the Indian pharmaceutical industry is currently pegged at over USD 3 billion." That's some interesting statistic. I had no idea the industry was that big!

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  Rickard posted almost 4 years ago

The traditional methods of marketing just can't cut it anymore. In this fast paced world if one can't adopt to the changing times they'll be left behind.

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  Roy posted almost 4 years ago

I'm glad to see the pharmaceutical industry adopting modern trends. This is very good news.

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  Maury Cheskes posted almost 4 years ago

This is a wonderful approach with patients' well being in mind. I agree that there should be individual case studies done for certain illnesses and conditions without categorizing everyone with similar symptoms. I love the outlook on effective medical branding making sure that it's going to the right audience and not wasted on cheap T.V. ads. Thanks for the informative piece.

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  Obasa Funmilola posted almost 4 years ago

Pharma digital marketing I think should be encouraged home and abroad now. It has really transformed the world of pharmacy. I will encourage both small and large businesses to adopt this privileged opportunity.

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  Edwin Kamau posted almost 4 years ago

Tradition is not that much effective in this era. That is what makes businesses to change the way they work.It is normal and essential.

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  Gillian posted almost 4 years ago

Yes Pharma! Of course, during this pandemic, one cannot do something the way they used to do. There has to be a change.

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  David Tjoe posted almost 4 years ago

Well, it seems we can clearly see when an article has been written in a professional manner where everything is arranged in detail. And I strongly agree that the internet is more used to get information, not just for entertainment, or communication nowadays.

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  Alex posted almost 4 years ago

This is the first time I heard about this but it comes in no surprise. More so now because of the pandemic everything is forced to go digital. Name it and it has a virtual counterpart. It may come a time where we will not leave our homes totally. Pharmaceutical needs or not. Digital marketing is here.

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  Greg Dyer posted almost 4 years ago

Thanks so much for this informative blog. I believe that pharma digital marketing campaigns are appropriate.

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  AJ posted almost 4 years ago

In today's business climate, the business' life depends so much on adapting quickly to current trends, more so pharmaceutical companies. Going digital is the only way to go nowadays.

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  Roy posted almost 4 years ago

The traditional ways of marketing medicine have been overtaken by time. It is indeed time to embrace the digital age!

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  Prince posted almost 4 years ago

This research really will go along way, patients will prefer online engagement now because of this pandemic. I hope this will really make patients more closer to their doctors.

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  Gaurav Arora posted almost 4 years ago

Thank you for this detailed article. I totally agree with these pharma digital marketing strategies. Digital has transformed the pharmaceutical industry in terms of transparency, patient communication, and drug development. What are the top trends we should consider in digital pharma marketing?

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  Ritesh Haasan posted almost 4 years ago

Interesting read! In this Covid-19 situation, people are looking for online health consultations instead of visiting clinics and hospitals. Which are the best ways to improve doctor engagement?

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  Oyeyipo Oladele posted almost 4 years ago

This post has it all for research. This writeup is detailed with well explained descriptions. Am gonna recommend this for all great pharmacist who wanna learn more.

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  David Mureithi posted almost 4 years ago

Things have changed. People are moving online. This is why businesses have also to change to adapt.

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  Wilson Jake posted almost 4 years ago

Wow, this is amazing. I hope this pharma marketing will be accessible and useful to small pharma businesses. Looking at the cost implication.

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  Vanessa posted almost 4 years ago

Is interesting toread about the way how moves an intereacts the pharmaceutical sector. I bet they work they do is very chalenging.

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  Aman posted almost 4 years ago

Quite insightful. Any comments on what sort of changes are further expected in the consumer behaviour because of COVID-19?

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  pauline posted almost 4 years ago

the should always be a diversity when it comes to marketing pharma. Your explanation above is a good guideline to this issue.

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  conrad pranze posted almost 4 years ago

We all know that medicines are the most widely used drugs all over the world. They just need to adjust and check what the market needs, and viola! Costumers!

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  Ravikanth Iyer posted almost 4 years ago

I went through the Glenmark case study of your's, and the results are amazing !!! I am curious to know how to implement such pharma marketing strategy for small pharma businesses and will it work.

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  Meldred Judith posted almost 4 years ago

Almost everything has a new to be introduced, and the most famous is through online. You will have to make a very good presentation for it.

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  Noman posted almost 4 years ago

This will be great information for pharma marketers that needs the right information.

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  Damon posted almost 4 years ago

I do agree that a more customized approach to marketing pharma would produce better results. Needs are so specific these days that I just don't think a "one size fits all" approach would work well.

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  Jerry Croft posted almost 4 years ago

A comprehensive blog sharing useful solutions. It provides insight regarding pharma marketing.

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  Niharika posted almost 4 years ago

Interesting article! Covered pretty much all the important pointers. I would like to know can pharma industry, really benefit from digital media and digital marketing for customers engagement during and post COVID 19?

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  Sayali posted almost 4 years ago

Nice!! Would it help to generate potential customers?

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  Chaitali Bhosale posted almost 4 years ago

The blog highlighted various aspects in pharma industry from commonly faced problems to their solutions. Recipe for pharmaceutical marketing in India is very interesting part of the blog. Anything else I should do to create loyal customers and generate real value apart from these mentioned techniques?

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  Ankita Chinnawar posted almost 4 years ago

Very descriptive blog! Great insights and useful solutions. Which are the best practices to be followed during the marketing activities for pharma? How will the Growth marketing approach impact the brand holistically?

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  Catholicon Pharma posted about 4 years ago

Nice and Very informative Blog!

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