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
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:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- 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 it here.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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:
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ready to get started?