Competition in the pharmaceutical industry has always been very strong, the number of players in the arena keep increasing while the big companies manage to keep a strong position. Medical patents on some of the most profitable drugs are about to expire, generic pharmaceuticals give customers alternatives at lower price, companies have to find new ways for growing business and expand.
Competition has a positive effect on consumers because it usually drives price reductions, increased accessibility to medical treatments, advocacy and protection from anticompetitive and unfair practices; unfortunately to counter balace this trend companies haven’t yet developed a strong brand strategy that can meet customer needs and create loyalty besides pricing. Brand awareness is not easy nor fast to build and requires solid pillars such as customer’s trust, clear perception of the superior quality of the products across the markets, a strong communication strategy across markets in line with local culture and regulation.
Interbrand, author of the annual Best Global Brands list, issued a report about the "Best Pharma Brands" and clearly stated how important is the corporate brand’s influence on customers and healthcare professionals. The 2013 Interbrand Health study demonstrated that a corporate brand’s influence on a healthcare provider’s (HCP) decision (Role of Brand) was approximately 7%. In 2017, that influence had increased to almost 11%, representing a 57 % increase in impact. It is important to note that the Role of Brand (ROB) metric varies greatly by region, based on local regulation and market structures. However, when weighed against other factors, such as: product efficacy and safety, product formulation, product features and/or reimbursement, the role of brand was found to be the determining factor in a recommendation.
While a communication strategy is key it is also a major challenge in this industry: there are limitations due to tight regulations, but also the need of establishing a strong relationship with people (patients, comsumers, professionals).
Focusing on people is really important: patients and professionals trust companies sharing the same values with them, look for clear information and are loyal to what they know better, they need emotional connections and a positive experience with the brand. If a company can meet all those expectations is on the way to reach real people’s engagement. When users recognize the superior quality of a product will become brand ambassadors for the company.
Pharmaceutical companies have always invested a consistent amount of their budget in marketing, a trend set to conitue in the future (for example in 2016 $5.2 billion was spent on television advertising), but little was done to take advantage of the digital opportunities. A Medical Marketing & Media (MM&M) survey revealed that 59 percent of marketers say they use websites, 45 percent use social media, 32 percent use digital ads, and 20 percent use mobile applications for their marketing efforts.
Digital marketing is a powerful tool in the pharma industry: it enables building emotional and engaging experiences, the transfer of certified and secure information, to tailor contents that attract customers because relevant to their needs and to reach patients everywhere and in real time.
Even when facing a critical issue, digital communications can change the way a company can interact with its audience: when Novartis marketed a heart failure drug, doctors and consumers felt the company’s direct to consumer advertising was far too negative. Then Novartis entered a partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA) and distributed relevant contents through the AHA’s website, and also created a social network for heart failure patients to help them and doctors with educational sources of information.
This is a clear example of how a customer centric digital marketing strategy can make the difference for a pharmaceutical branding strategy. Digital tools also gives the opportunity to monitor and control information which is fundamental due to the strict regulations of this sector.
If your company is looking for a complete solution to distribute official, quality content to their patients and to healthcare professionals while at the same time improving brand loyalty and product visibility on all digital channels, get in touch with us and discover the eLeaflet solution