Learning from Five Key Pharma Industry Trends

The global pharmaceutical industry is experiencing profound changes — and understanding the impact of these changes is critical for those involved in pharmaceutical marketing.

According to a new industry report, the era of pharmaceutical firms succeeding with low innovation products and indiscriminate TV pill pushing is coming to a quick end. The successful pharmaceutical firm of the future will feature smaller and more agile sales staffs, products that truly add value for patients, and marketing efforts that are laser targeted.

Let’s take a closer look at some key trends shaping this future, and how brands can partner with the right pharmaceutical advertising agency to develop campaigns that fit this evolution.

Projecting Pharmaceutical Industry Trends

A recent report compiled by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) outlined the tectonic shifts altering the pharmaceutical industry. Some of these dynamics are associated with broader societal change; others are tied to new technology or evolving consumer preferences.

Highlighted developments in the PwC report include the following:

  • Chronic disease rates are growing at a rapid pace, creating a larger — and sicker — population of patients/consumers.
  • Healthcare payers are giving physicians less latitude in terms of prescription decisions.
  • The “pay-for-performance” model is also becoming more established in the industry, as payers seek to tie reimbursements to actual health outcomes.
  • Healthcare boundaries are now overlapping and an interdisciplinary approach to patient care is gaining favor.
  • Demand for pharmaceutical products in the developing world is robust, as globalization raises wages and technology increases access to healthcare. Demand for medicines, however, varies widely in global markets.
  • Governments across the globe are placing a greater emphasis on prevention rather than treatment, hoping to control costs and improve patient outcomes.
  • Regulators are assuming a more risk-averse posture.

All of these developments are collectively transforming how patients are treated, and changing the underlying business dynamics across multiple related industries. Most importantly, if you’re a leader within a pharma brand — or a pharmaceutical advertising agency — these trends provide a lodestar of sorts to help inform your industry marketing and advertising campaign strategies.

Marketing and Advertising Through the Lens of Trend Analysis

As industries evolve, advertising and marketing must evolve in parallel. In the case of the pharmaceutical industry, it’s important that advertisers stay away from a product-focused approach rooted in yesterday’s industry model.

Instead of being overly focused on follower products, brands should invest in developing innovative new products that fill an unmet or underserved market niche. PwC describes innovation in the context of drug development as products which:

cure a disease or condition; prevent a disease or condition; reduce mortality or morbidity; reduce the cost of care; improve the quality of life; are safer or easier to use; or improve patient compliance and persistence.”

PwC claims that a mere eight new medications meeting those criteria were launched in 2018. In the absence of innovation, patient outcomes suffer. Yet this also creates an exceptional competitive opportunity for brands capable of innovating.

Other core imperatives for today’s pharma marketing and ad departments, according to PwC, include:

  • Recognizing how payer, provider, and pharmaceutical value chains work together.
  • Developing the capability to effectively market specialist therapies, which will become more important in the coming years. 
  • Introducing products with multi-nation launches and live licensing.

Deeper, cultural changes are also critical. Brands need to foster a modern marketing and advertising culture capable of supporting a knowledge-based commercial organization. 

Such initiatives are certainly ambitious, especially in an industry where firms have been able to make margin by developing low innovation follower products and pairing them with tired, yet tried-and-true, marketing techniques. Yet ambition and innovation are exactly what’s called for, given the massive structural changes that will alter the shape of the pharmaceutical industry in the coming years.

The Takeaway

If your pharmaceutical advertising agency isn’t pressing you to think three moves ahead, it’s time for a re-evaluation. The pharmaceutical industry will experience a sea of change in the coming years, and brands that begin adapting early will be in the best competitive position.

At BIGEYE, we have the right combination to help pharma brands win: Domain expertise, a sophisticated suite of technological tools, and a full range of pharmaceutical marketing services.

Contact us today to learn more about BIGEYE, and what a forward-thinking pharmaceutical advertising agency can do for your brand.

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