Updated on 20/01/2023

Marketing in the pharmaceutical industry

Starting from education, taking care of social networks, being omnichannel, analyzing data: it’s all about learning how to address individuals. In this article, we’ll talk about the best marketing strategies for the Pharma industry.

For many years now, the pharmaceutical industry has been experiencing a phase of great change and expansion. There are many factors that are at the base of this push; and to all of them has been added today another factor that is both macroscopic and dramatic: the Covid-19 pandemic. We are still in the midst of the emergency, worldwide, and it is difficult to predict when and how we will emerge from it, how our lives, our societies, our production systems, and markets will be changed as a result.

What we can predict with a good degree of certainty is that health will be increasingly at the center of economic agendas, both national and global, and the concerns of citizens; the natural consequence will be that Pharma industry companies will have an even more central and strategic role.

It’s a great opportunity, but also a great responsibility.

Starting from this awareness, in a previous post, we talked about the current trends on the horizon we told you about the new trends that are looming on the horizon of the sector in our previous article.

As a result, we want to focus on how to take advantage of these trends in order to gain competitive advantage, a better market positioning, a better reputation with patients, a solid and lasting loyalty of customers (all of these elements are intimately connected).


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7 marketing strategies for the Pharma industry

Here, then, are the best marketing strategies for the Pharma industry, which are collected around seven themes.

1. (Re)starting from education

The digital world in which we are immersed is also the world of information, accessible everywhere, in a few clicks (or a few taps), on any type of device (it is the so-called “infosphere”).

It is an enormous and wonderful opportunity, but it also hides many pitfalls. Just think of the proliferation of fake news and deliberately false and misleading information. Pharmaceutical companies must be able to deal with all of this: the classic training courses offered to doctors, pharmacists, and professionals in the sector are no longer enough.

Today it is more fundamental than ever to oversee the places of online debate, the forums, and communities.

In short, it is a matter of (re)starting from the education of one’s own public (potential and actual). Returns in terms of reputation, transparency, but also of engagement and loyalty, are important and decisive, both over the short and long term.

2. Attention to social networks

The digital world has broken down the barriers and traditional channels through which customers interface with companies. This also applies to Pharma.

In short, it is up to companies to be found where consumers find themselves. And the most “crowded” digital places today are social networks.

The monthly active users on Facebook, worldwide, now number more than 2.7 billion; on Instagram, the threshold of 1 billion monthly active users has recently been exceeded; on Twitter 330 million (statista.com).

These numbers are enough to understand how essential it is for companies in the pharmaceutical sector to build an effective, coherent, and incisive social media marketing strategy. This strategy can combine education (as we have seen above) with a more emotional involvement and closeness to individuals, and it requires combining information, storytelling, and individual support.

Let’s close with a significant figure: 90% of American children between 18 and 24 years old said they trust medical information acquired on social networks (getreferralmd.com). That’s why it is important to be ready on these channels!

3. The importance of influencers (…even micro influencers)

Let’s start again from a given. Seventy percent of millennials are somehow addressed in their purchases by so-called “influencers” (collectivebias.com). These are people perceived as “neighbors” and “normal”, despite their social following, which can also be very large. In short, they are more credible and authentic than the stars of television commercials. This is why the so-called “influencer marketing” is experiencing its heyday.

An example in the Pharma sector?

Amcal Pharmacy has collaborated with Jack Perkins, a supercar driver who has diabetes. The collaboration has mainly involved Instagram, and it has achieved excellent results.

Attention though: today, like stars of television and the movies, even “top influencers” are perceived as distant and insincere. An interesting solution, therefore, is to address many micro-influencers, who have a smaller, but often very faithful and involved amount of followers.


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4. Know your audience: the power of data-driven

Now let’s jump to the other end of the spectrum: that is, let’s think about the audience, the target. 

The truth is, the best marketing strategies for the Pharma industry are all at stake here. After all, it’s about learning how to do something very old, with modern tools: knowing your audience, packaging messages that are as tailored as possible. There is no more effective strategy than this.

How is this possible when we are talking about audiences of thousands or millions of people? The answer, in two words is: Big Data“.

In the digital world, we all leave continuous traces through the terms we enter on search engines, the preferences we express on social media, the apps we download (think of those dedicated to health care) and how we use them, the videos we see on YouTube … and the list could go on forever.

Pharmaceutical companies must learn how to collect this huge amount of data while also being attentive to privacy. But above all, they must learn to interpret this information in the most functional and dynamic way: and in this sense it is essential to implement efficient Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems.

The final objective is to divide their target into increasingly specific clusters, with similar characteristics and behaviors, of micro-targets to hit with differentiated and tailored campaigns.

This is data-driven marketing, a strategy that can be extremely effective.

But can you go beyond clusters? Yes. And the answer is in personalization, which we will talk about in the next point.

5. The personalization boost

Today, the marketing strategy that has the greatest and most lasting return is the one-to-one approach. It’s about collecting the most functional data on individuals, keeping them monitored and up to date, and, based on these, establish a truly personalized dialog.

The most important and attentive companies in the pharmaceutical industry have already embraced personalization. Just think of Roche, with its personalized app dedicated to childhood diabetes, or the “precision medicine” approach that industry giants like Bayer or Novartis are experimenting with. These are just a few of the many examples in the industry.

6. Every good strategy must be omnichannel

In the previous points, we have listed several marketing strategies for the Pharma industry. All of them are aimed at bringing companies closer to individuals. It is an approach that offers advantages on all fronts.

However, it’s important for companies to be careful not to neglect the “channels” through which messages are conveyed.

In the pharmaceutical sector in particular, it is necessary to start from the physical world, that of general practitioners, pharmacies and parapharmacies, to arrive at the digital world. But we must also be aware of the fact that the digital world is increasingly diverse, increasingly involving smartphones and tablets, dedicated applications to download, and social networks.

In short, an omnichannel approach is needed in order to optimize campaigns (marketing or customer care) based on different devices and different channels.

Where should we start from? Mobile.

Just think about this data: today, 91% of users access the internet via mobile and smartphone owners, across the world, number about 3.5 billion (there were “only” 2.5 billion in 2016) (statista.com).

7. Exploring the frontiers of Virtual and Augmented Reality

According to the most recent studies, by 2020 the Virtual Reality software market should grow to a value of $4.6 billion, from the current $2.6 billion, nearly doubling in size (statista.com).

This growth testifies to the fact that VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) systems are entering more and more into our daily lives. The most innovative companies have been aware of this for some time and are already putting on track the first marketing strategies that are based on these new systems, with enormous potential.

This is also happening in Pharma.

Novartis, for example, has recently partnered with Microsoft and started to produce Virtual Reality systems with the aim of showing patients (in 3D and 360-degree mode) the interaction of drug molecules with their body tissues. The goal is to explain how the drugs function in an incisive, engaging, and very transparent way.

We are only at the beginning of this revolution, which can be very promising. This will only strengthen the assumption from which the best marketing strategies for the Pharma sector start: everything must revolve around people, patients.


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