Pharma Digital Marketing in India in 2016

Pharma Digital Marketing 2016

Pharma Prescription product selling is not B2B or B2C marketing, it B2CC marketing. We have our customers (Doctors) and consumers (Patients) as a very different breed with different knowledge set about the same need. Thus marketing efforts are completely different.

Different is still ok and interesting, but it becomes really challenging when we have a big ‘R’ in between all this. And that R is like a big hepa filter of marketing, which stands for ‘Regulatory’. It’s like a censor board for Aastha channel, making life miserable for many marketers in Pharma. So essentially, its B2RCC marketing in Pharma.

Digital has been a very new entrant in Pharma Marketing space. From here on, B2RCC model is bound to get further complicated, however early signs have been really great in India and across the globe. Till date globally we have seen use of tech and its implementation in marketing for purpose of HCP (Doctor) engagement, Disease awareness and Patient Adherence. Some of the global campaigns on Youtube (like Take it from a FISH) and using Augmented Reality (Genzyme – AR for Patient Awareness) have really set the basics right, but in India, we have only seen basics of Digital marketing like websites and App so far.

Considering the fact that we will see more and more Pharma and devices companies investing in Digital Marketing, here are top 5 trends I see emerge in 2016. We have set the ground, now let’s raise the ceiling.

Top 5 Pharma Digital Marketing Trends for India in 2016:

1. From Quantum to Search on websites

For more than 5 years now industry websites have been providing a lot of medical content to doctors. We have Knowledge Genie from Abbott dealing in Journal publications and articles, e-subscriptions and similar space, Univadis from MSD providing access to Lancet, Pubmed, Video Interviews, e-CMEs and what not. All this will soon start shifting towards an end. Though a very potent strategy till now, online content is increasing in quantum and thus ensuring difficult to search. Companies will now start focusing on more personalized content, which will happen by tweaks in way they code their sites to understand user behavior and navigation. Features like social media collaborations and what your region reads will come in handy.

2. ROI on Apps

Till date having an app was a differential. One of the industry data shows that more than 50% investment on tech from Pharma goes to Mobile apps, and also more than 50% of this investment has no mechanism to calculate ROI. This will and has to change now. Companies and teams are showing less enthusiasm to build an app for the sake of building an app. Which is really good? Now the model will shift from building an app to focus on Engagement on existing App, Downloads and usage. Also not to forget why we make such apps, to benefit the Patient/Doctor, this part you will see being solved more and more in coming years. If none of these numbers are meeting the expectations companies will start focusing on discontinuing their existing app assets.

3. Oculus Rift

From gaming to healthcare. Oculus Rift is a virtual reality head mounted display headset. You wear this headset and it feels like you are right there in that scenario. This tech has been used in Gaming for some time now, but with consumer driven product like Oculus Rift and its increasing availability in India in 2016, we will see many agencies proposing this tech, and many Pharma using this at Medical conferences. Its use will range from explaining doctors mechanism of action to surgical procedures. The difference of this tech from AV tool is that you can actually have a 360 degree view with this and feel like being there in vivo.

4. Digital marketing for Doctors

You can’t miss out on this one if you want to survive in today’s ever changing scenario. You would have heard of Sermo and doximity in US. These are essentially doctor networking platforms in US. They are extensively used by Pharma industry as a marketing and market research tools. In India too we have seen more than 1 lac doctors networking online. With that mass bound to grow 2 fold at least and platforms like DocPlexus, Curofy and more getting funded in double figures, Pharma is bound to come on board with these platforms.

5. IVR and Telemedicine

This one more than a trend will pop out as a necessity for Pharma Industry. NLEM is a reality now with government pushing more and more drugs in Pharma into price control. Several premium products are now priced at half than what they where 2 years back. Only way for them to grow is by increasing access. We need to find a way to reach 65% of our population where healthcare access has not reached, and what better way to do that, other than using Handset which most of the rural population now have. Using mobile for IVR messages to spread awareness and supporting slur of startups in their telemedicine initiatives will be a mandate for Pharma come 2016.

Floor is set, come let’s raise the ceiling in 2016

This article is part of the #2016defynd series where we have experts from the industry talk about what digital marketers need to do to keep up with Digital Marketing in 2016. You can check out the entire series here.

Rinkesh Shah

A Digital Marketing ethusiast who have spend 10 years now in pharmaceutical industry learning and working. I have worked in TCS, Infosys, BioQuest and GSK during these years looking after Business Development & Multichannel initiatives of various pharma and life science companies. I have also been founder of India's Crowdfunding website Igniteintent and started a sort of movement of crowdfunding in IITs. I blog at

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