According to McKinsey research, the emerging markets are overtaking the EU5 economies in pharmaceutical spending and expected to account for USD 190 billion in sales growth by 2020.
According to a Business research company, the pharma companies market worth expected to reach $1170 billion by 2021.
It’s a sign pharma company should tighten the seat belt and get ready to skyrocket the sales in the emerging markets with a unique marketing strategy as the emerging market’s governments are making healthcare a priority. It’s a lucrative opportunity, but everything is not so rosy.
The highly fragmented industry is experiencing several fluctuations in the industry due to changes in macro-environment, product impact, regulatory compliances, and communication. Besides, the huge capital investment and expensive drug promotion make it difficult to grab a market share and slow revenue growth.
It mandates the pharma companies to rethink the market access and revamp the marketing strategy. Before we start exploring solutions to resolve the obstacles coming in the path, let’s first dig deeper to know the challenges that pharma marketing segment is facing.
Take a look at the common set of challenges that pharma companies are facing altogether:
- Maintaining the pace with changing government policies
Government is enforcing the stringent regulations on the pharma companies to ensure the quality of drugs, but frequent changes in government policy decision make it difficult to cope up with them and taking the approval of them every time is quite a task. The compulsory licensing, NLEM, DPCO 2013, and drug price control policy are named to few that are making it arduous to get sufficient returns and profitability is dropping.
Additionally, the pharma product-related marketing constraints are also increasing with frequent changes in laws, industry codes, and regulations that are compelling companies to come up with unique channels that are both compliant and effective.
- Industry fragmentation issues
The fragmentation problem and the discriminating policy of the government for product and price are adversely impacting the profitability of the big companies and threatening the survival of the small companies. The leading players to counterbalance their profits and stay in an advantageous position, they are lowering down the price in export markets.
It’s negatively impacting the local pharma product marketing as high cost and inadequate supportive measures don’t let them market the products on the desired channels efficiently.
- Scientific communication
Whether it’s B2B marketing or B2C marketing, if the companies are using the same presenting mechanism to market the product, then brand building, ensuring patient-centric healthcare, and differentiating the products become impossible. The scientific language that medical experts can easily comprehend is not essentially understood by the patients.
Presently, the patients are the king of the industry that decide whether the product will succeed or fail that makes it crucial to reach out to the patient, engage them, and build trust with better products.
By enhancing the communication, the well-informed patients can be made understood the value that product will deliver and blow the fire of doubt that the gap between what the medical expert heard about the drug and convey to the patients create. In addition to using easy-to-understand and non-scientific language while communication, the advanced technologies such as VR and AR can be leveraged to educate the patients, bolster the confidence in the products, and nurture the relationship with them.
- Slow-to-innovate marketing strategy
The research has proven that the pharma industry still lags behind other industries in terms of digital advertising and marketing. In the last few years, marketing spending is continuously decreased. The low marketing budget allocation and going conventional way are holding back the pharma industry and not allowing them to tap the full potential of product marketing efforts.
The digital initiatives are taken by some of the industries, but still, they are not optimal that allow the pharma companies to market the products like a pro.
- Inefficient data handling and interpretation
Launching traditional marketing campaigns in the digital universe will sooner or later throw out the companies from the market being not finding them as a great-fit. It’s discouraging, but the reality of pharma marketing space where half of the pharma companies still not using CRM data in the marketing.
The rate at which the healthcare industry is spilling the data, it’s impossible to collect, manage and understand the data manually at speed. The inability to deal with the data and interpret the data on time doesn’t let the pharma companies gain epic success through traditional marketing campaigns.
- Multiple layers in the supply chain
You have certainly heard B2B or B2C marketing, but are you familiar with the business to business to consumer” (B2B2C) marketing. It refers to the industries where the product is sold from one company to another customer and then to the consumers. The pharma industry is one of them where the physician decides for the drug, pharmacy play a subordinate role for distribution and the patients finally purchase them. It makes marketing task a spine-chilling due to the availability of two different types of stakeholders.
Just like scientific communication, the marketing strategy must be optimized to create demand at both customer and consumer level with a balancing act.
- Fierce competition
Saying the pharma market is overly-saturated with different types of pharma companies and pharmaceutical drugs won’t be an overstatement. The new entrants can make the profits by coming up with a new drug addressing severe chronic conditions or rare diseases. Again, differentiating the products with an ordinary marketing plan is not a work of an average Joe. It poses a big challenge for the companies to survive and stand out in the crowded marketplace.
However, bringing subtle changes to brand perception, message, price, and products can help marketers to overcome the challenge and build the product’s credibility over the competition.
- Cumbersome decision making
Pharma product marketing is not just an external affair, where winning the physicians would work. Instead, B2B marketing is like a double-edged sword where product marketing involves a lot of decisions to be made internally by the team members before the product moved into the marketing zone. All the members from the same or different departments must agree on every fact.
When more people jump on the decision-making bandwagon, the time it takes to weigh up all the possibilities and come to the decision stretches, which ultimately extend the time requires launching the marketing campaign. The delays may cost the company to lose the opportunity or miss the mark. With proper time management, the objectives can be achieved.
The industry fragmentation, inadequate market intelligence, lack of IT related system, low marketing budget, slow-to-technology adoption, absence of superior marketing assistance and changing industry dynamics have made the marketing of the pharma products extremely challenging. Each challenge is one-of-a-kind that requires marketers to tackle and solve them differently. Well, the right mix of technology, talent, and tools have an answer to every problem. So, the companies should consider them to get ahead of the pack.