Trending Marketing Strategies by Pharma Companies in Pandemic

With physical interactions on halt what marketing strategies should pharma companies adopt to maximise reach and sales?


In the wake of the largest human health crisis, the hospitals, clinics, and doctors are overwhelmed with their duties and responsibilities, leaving them with a meagre amount of time to hear a pharma sales representative’s sales pitch.The pharma industry invariably relies on its large field force of sales representatives with its target audience predominantly doctors, however, the onset of Covid-19 has disrupted the physical visits with doctors. Even if a few lucky representatives got a chance to enter the hospital or chamber, their productivity was suboptimal since most doctors avoided meeting them or were asked to show their product manuals and brochures from a distance. Several pharma companies have realised that the lack of CRM systems reduced their marketing efficiencies by not being able to classify potential leads resulting in repetitive market visits and calls thus, consuming time and other resources. Given the current state of adversity, the earlier marketing strategies adopted by pharma marketing seem passe’, and turning to digital methods is inevitable.

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The onset of Covid-19 has disrupted the physical visits with doctors therefore hampering the on-field sales and marketing strategies of pharma companies.

Here are some of the marketing trends that will disrupt pharma marketing and will act as tailwinds for the industry’s growth: 

  • Content Marketing: Content marketing is an approach focused on the creation, sharing, and distribution of valuable contentPharma companies are restricted from direct advertising of drugs, which is a barrier. With such restrictions, content marketing becomes their saviour since it provides long-term results without requiring the need to openly market their products. Through content marketing, we can focus on winning new customers and retain the existing ones. Under the ambit of content marketing, pharma companies can deploy informative videos, conduct webinars, guides for healthcare providers, industry reports and establish themselves as problem solvers. A perfect instance of content marketing can be -Johnson & Johnson’s ‘Care for Care’ campaign – a combination of blog, emotive messaging, thoughtful social media content, and alluring visuals that made it share-worthy and garnered 26 million likes on social media. 
  • AI-Powered Chatbots: Global pharma companies like Johnson & Johnson and MedxNote have implemented chatbots as part of their marketing strategy. Chatbots powered by AI resemble human conversation and provide immediate response to doctor’s queries in real-time. They can be used to market products and clarify the concerns of doctors regarding medicine usage, provide information on medicine formulations, and the research conducted on a specific drug. The movement restrictions in the pandemic have crippled the supply chain resulting in irregularities of medicine supply and no inventory in local medicine shops. Here, a D2C process can be established where patients can order medicines that were earlier prescribed by doctors directly from its app or website via chatbots for doorstep delivery.
  • AR/VR for immersive marketing: Printed product manuals and brochures will no longer be effective. The use of AR and VR systems will take precedence over the conventional marketing methods for creating an immersive experience. The use of AR/VR can effectively explain the working of medicines engagingly. Novartis has recently partnered with Microsoft to create virtual reality systems. GlaxoSmithKline has launched a VR-driven campaign named -The Migraine Experience for its product Excedrin. The VR headset simulated a migraine environment where users could program their specific symptoms such as blind spots, auras, and sensitivity to light so that they could experience the traumas for themselves.
  • Working with Sportsperson as an influencer: Doctors are informed individuals and keep track of drug advancements and new developments in the industry. It is, therefore, recommended that pharma companies should collaborate with renowned sportspersons to entrust belief regarding product performance to maximise reach. For instance, Amcal Pharma to boost awareness on its diabetic product range shacked hands with diabetic supercar driver Jack Perkins. It followed a social media strategy by publishing posts on Instagram about Amcal helps him to keep his diabetes under control. This strategy benefitted Amcal Pharma to receive exposure from Jack Perkin’s 21000 followers. 
  • Use of CRM systems: AI chatbots can be integrated with the CRM systems of the company that can automate redundant processes which a pharma sales representative undergoes. CRM systems can send automatic reminders, set online meetings with physicians, send push notifications, place sample orders, etc thus saving time and helping representatives to focus on core tasks such as building personalised relationships with doctors.

    What is in it for Pharma Companies? 

    With on-ground physical marketing activities on a halt, pharma company marketers have to adapt to digital and online channels of marketing to enhance customer touchpoints. Having a high-quality website with updated search engines, building a community of doctors and medicine retailers and the use of smart chatbots in the websites will help in better connectivity also assisting a medical practitioner with their queries will develop personalised connections and effective marketing.

Shalmoli Sarkar
Shalmoli Sarkar
An MBA in marketing and a BTech in chemical engineering, Shalmoli writes on marketing strategies and business technology for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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