The Indian pharmaceutical industry has come a long way and emerged as one of the largest suppliers of medicine globally, thanks to the India advantage, being a low cost manufacturing hub, wide talent pool and favorable policy support from the government. According to IKON Marketing Consultants’s estimates, in the current fiscal, 2020-21 the Indian pharmaceutical industry is estimated to worth US$ 43 billion and is expected to exhibit a high single digit CAGR in the next 3 years.
However, despite such impressive figures, what lies ahead in the coming new decade? How is the industry going to take shape? With the continuously evolving science and technology space, what new pharma marketing trends will emerge in the industry making it most thriving? Well, the key is to have a futuristic approach and be ready to leverage on the emerging trends in the new decade.
1. Stay focused on core business and ‘customer segments’
As the Pharma industry comprises a different array of therapeutic categories, R&D and governed by stringent regulations, it is easy for the pharma players to lose the track from core business and result in creating a wide product portfolio which end up unmanageable product portfolio and depleting ROI. The current pandemic led to new opportunities and many pharma players have shifted their focus from core to newly posed opportunities though the future is uncertain about the lasting of the current pandemic. Study the world’s most successful pharma companies and surprisingly you will notice that their success lies in their leadership in a few clearly defined product categories. So stay focused and follow a simple principle of marketing - ‘customer segmentation’ and devote all your efforts/capabilities towards the product/brand which serves a defined set of prescribers, payers and patients and create category leadership by differentiation from the competitors.
A cursory analysis of the Indian pharmaceutical market will reveal that it is the heritage brands which have helped sustain the growth of business in these VUCA times, thus reiterating the need for organizations to focus on building big brands by umbrella branding. Brand failures are high and the pharma market is no exception, with an average 8 to 10 “me too” brands being launched every day it makes sense to focus on building existing brands by staying focused on core business.
2. Harness the potential of digital marketing
The Indian pharma industry is bound by norms for the marketing and advertising and there hasn't been much innovation noticed in the past decade except, going digital. Companies have invested in websites, mobile apps and other digital channels, but still this is not enough and have not contributed significantly in their growth. Apart from achieving operational efficiency, it is very important to be customer centric enterprise to stay ahead and to do so, utilize the emerging trends in digital marketing for pharma.
Engage your customers with relevant content, influence them, make them feel that they are in good hands to be taken care of their requirements. Moving ahead patient centric approach will be the key as with increased digitalization the healthcare fraternity will be relating with a more informed and hence empowered patient. With improved awareness there will be a tectonic shift towards preventive approach. The pandemic has only hastened the preventive approach, with such uncertainties round the corner patients/customers will be wiser and seek out ways to stay healthy. With more customers/patients taking to the digital world, pharma companies should be prepared to enter the BIG data world. Data analytics will enable pharma companies to make more customer focussed decisions.
IoT is the future and pharmaceutical/healthcare companies need to take the lead, pharma companies can partner with hospitals/doctors/pharmacies/diagnostic labs/e-pharmacies/patients in proactively managing chronic disease like diabetes & other health issues by ensuring patient compliance, informing and educating the patients family. The possibilities are limitless and pharma companies should be ready with necessary infrastructure and not be left behind in the emerging new world order.
3. Invest wisely in R & D vis a vis in your marketing team
By 2024, it is expected that the global R & D spending will reach new heights of US$ 204 billions. For the pharma players, it is obvious to invest in R&D but investing in a new generation talent pool will be the key to differentiate in the long run.
Unlike any other industry, the pharma marketers require special skill sets, training and motivation at regular intervals as the industry is highly knowledge driven and becomes dynamic and challenging due to the current pandemic. Technological investments helped organizations to improve their processes, production cycle and sales efficiency, but it's the human resource, which runs a smooth marketing function of any organization. So set some annual budget aside for the welfare and development of your human resource and spend it wisely.
4. Reduce the marketing complexity and choose your growth strategy wisely
As like any other manufacturer, pharma manufacturers also believed that whatever the revenue growth, is always good. But in order to increase the revenue they have eventually ended up with launching of new products without caring the for its marketing strategies and brand legacy and entered new therapeutic categories, entered the new geographies without considering the scale of operation and regulatory requirements in detail, and no doubt, Mergers and Acquisitions increased the size but silently added superfluous systems and processes. Ultimately, profit generated from these growth strategies outweighed the marketing complexity they created.
As unlike any other industry, the pharma industry needs to take care of many decision makers right from manufacturers to the patients to the supply chain partners. It is very important to make them work on the company’s sole marketing objectives. So for the next decade, think carefully about your growth strategies and reduce the marketing complexity to achieve your ultimate mission.
5. Not just social but do the 'environmental marketing' as well
CSR activities have been part of pharma companies for a long time, however rising concerns about polluting the environment calls for the need to be responsible towards taking care of the environment and add your bit to either improve or sustain it via environmental marketing strategies, which will remain the need of the hour in the coming decade as well.
Environmental marketing also known as ‘Green Marketing’ which is not just promoting your products with environmental characteristics but involves modification in product manufacturing to branding it. When you add ‘green’ to your product design, its positioning, pricing, supply and till its disposal and market it well, it pays well in the future in the inform of increased customer loyalty, as the ‘green brands’ are seen as more trustworthy and earn more profits.
With increasing awareness among the consumers, CSR will definitely help companies have an emotional connect with the consumers and population at large. The pandemic has shaken up the economy and it is for the healthcare companies to reach out and offer a helping hand, this is the time to pitch in with CSR activities if you wish to connect with the masses and build corporate equity.
So be prepared and focused to leverage on these emerging trends and make sure you stay ahead and grow your TOP line in the new decade. All the very best..!
Originally published in the PHARMABIZ, 24 Feb 2021