So far, 2019 has been a relatively busy year for pharma marketers.
The pharmaceutical industry itself is fast evolving in the backdrop of major shifts in technology, consumer trends and regulatory framework. It was just a matter of time before the advent of digital technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, voice assistants and virtual reality impact on pharma marketing.
In this article, we look at the latest marketing trends that are poised to be instrumental in shaping the future of the pharmaceutical industry.
(1) Shift Towards Mobile Ecosystem
The pharma industry as a whole has been making a major shift towards the mobile ecosystem in the past handful of years. Given that 63.4 percent of the global population already uses mobile devices, it was just a matter of time before pharma marketing specialists follow suit.
Their target audiences, which includes primarily doctors and to some extent patients, have already embraced mobile technology. Healthcare providers, on their end, use mobile applications to improve workflow, stay in touch with the patients, and gain access to clinical information.
With the rise of software as a medical device and prescription of mobile apps as drugs, we are yet to see the full potential of mobile in digital healthcare. More importantly, mobile allows doctors to focus on more complex tasks.
However you look at it, massive transformations in healthcare and indeed pharma industry continue to center around mobile experiences. Pharma marketers are not only trying to reach through to doctors through mobile channels but also trying to offer superior experiences to consumers.
(2) Increased Focus on Patient Journey
Patients are no longer just patients. Today, they increasingly perceive themselves as healthcare consumers and demand that they be treated as such. For pharma brands trying to sell directly (or even indirectly) to patients, this is a huge shift.
In response, forward-thinking pharma marketers are now turning to patient engagement journeys to gain an added edge over competition. As you might already suspect, patient journey encompasses the entire route that the patient takes, long before their condition is diagnosed all the way to the very end of their treatment course.
That being said, a solid pharma marketing strategy should incorporate how marketers can help create the best possible consumer experiences for their patients. After all, customer experience will take precedence over service and cost price as they major brand differentiator by 2020, as per Gartner.
The same report anticipates that customer experience will become the biggest battleground for over 89 percent of all global brands, including pharma companies.
Good thing, there are myriads of ways pharma marketing experts can take advantage of patient engagement journeys. According to Pharma Marketing playbook by Digital Authority, marketers can influence consumer decisions throughout the patient journey through:
1) Teaching the patients about their symptoms, and offer tips on how to diagnose, prevent and treat their conditions. Through educational support, they can build an amicable relationship and better rapport with the patients.
2) Offering emotional support, behavior-change support, and much more through digital solutions.
No matter how you look at it, customer experience and patient journey will become a core part of pharma marketing in the next several years.
(3) It’s Time for Virtual Pharma
The so-called “virtual pharma” is here to stay. As pharma companies try to free up some money and resources to concentrate on R&D, the virtual pharma trend is going to pick up even more pace in the next 12 months or so.
This means that pharma marketing teams are looking to collaborate with third parties to promote efficiency, cut costs, and enhance their value chain.
(4) More Spending on Pharma Marketing
That pharma marketers are getting more marketing dollars in their pots isn’t exactly news. What’s interesting, however, is that pharma companies are now putting aside even bigger budgets for sales and marketing than they spend on drug research and development.
Take Johnson & Johnson, a well-known spender, for instance. In recent years, the American drugmaker has spent more than 2x its research and development budget on sales and marketing, according to Healthcareweekly.
Given that J&J has a spending budget of $8 billion, this figure might seem a lot to ordinary folk. However, this hefty move is justifiable according to data insights and market trends.
(5) All Eyes on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence
It’s an interesting time for artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data in the pharma and healthcare industry as a whole. Healthcare organizations are now collecting swathes of complex datasets about their patients. Doctors want to gather, analyze and make sense of these data faster, more reliably and in real time to facilitate early diagnosis of disease and improve patient outcomes.
In light of this, the big three technologies are becoming a top priority for pharma marketers now henceforth. AI, when combined with big data, can help them enrich their marketing content and speak the same language with physicians.
Of course, there are myriads of ways machine learning, AI and Big Data can impact on pharma marketing — from offering better patient experiences, and improving medication adherence to cost savings and more.
(6) The Age of Omnichannel Pharma Marketing
Omnichannel marketing hinges on the fact that pharma marketers are no longer relying on SEO, content marketing and social media as just add-ons. They are incorporating them as key channels in their marketing strategies.
More crucially, the future of pharma sales and marketing relies on digital integration. In other words, all pharma marketing strategies should go hand in hand with digital transformation.
Even still, machine automation, social integration, and technologies like artificial intelligence are not here to take the place of marketers. Instead, they are being brought on board to support their omnichannel marketing approach and supplement their human touch.
Patients are taking more and more control over their health care. In fact, Gartner predicts that consumers will manage more than 85 percent of their relationships with brands without human interaction by 2020. In light of this, pharma marketers are racing to create the best customer experiences as a way of staying ahead of the rest.
To do so effectively, they are turning to big data, mobile, artificial intelligence, patient journey, and other tactics, all of which will contribute to shaping the future for the pharma industry.