Pharma Marketers Take Note: Four Trends to Watch in 2013

The way the industry is heading is a crucial indicator of the way your brand should be heading too. Whether it’s using data to target physicians and patients more effectively or capitalizing on the latest shifts in behavior, it’s essential to know where “Big Pharma” is going if you want to be successful.

The following are four trends affecting pharma marketers today that will impact the future:

1. Budget Cutbacks

Just like in years past, budget pressures continue to be one of the most important trends for 2013, according to As a result, pharma marketers must focus their efforts on becoming more cost-effective and pay close attention to where their dollars are being spent if they are going to remain profitable.

2. Less Face Time

According to New York-based consulting group TNS Healthcare, only 20% of reps speak to a physician in person. And with one out of four physicians working in practices that refuse to see reps at all, pharma marketers are on the lookout for alternative approaches to the traditional marketing model—something that gives them more bang for their buck. The frontrunners in the industry will be using technology and data to reach their target audiences in new ways.

3. Innovative Technologies

Modern advances and the availability of information that is now easily accessible will continue to heavily influence the industry. A recent Accenture report, Technology Vision: What It Means for Life Sciences, notes that the pharma industry is learning how to use “Big Data”—the catch-all term for the explosion of data and the technology that supports it. Greater use of the Internet, 3G/4G availability, and the number of apps for smartphones are prime examples of how Big Pharma is capitalizing—literally putting volumes of information at people’s fingertips. states that pharmaceutical companies will need to use targeted data to “improve areas in drug development” and “provide compelling evidence of a drug’s benefits.”

4. Greater Patient Involvement

With healthcare costs on the rise, patients are becoming much more actively involved in the decision-making process when it comes to their health. This is prompting many pharma companies to find new ways to engage them. The Accenture report shows that “wide-scale use of smartphones and other 3G and 4G devices have helped pharma companies find new ways to engage patients and provide them with useful services that can improve quality of life.” As patients become more empowered, it will be even more important for Big Pharma to reach them with pertinent messages.

Staying on Top of Trends 

New technologies continue to evolve and are key factors in ensuring you stay on top of—and ahead of—these trends. They also help ensure marketing success that is less dependent on the sales force. Another recent Accenture report, Business Changes, Technology Catalyst, states “90% of consumers trust peer recommendations,” indicating just how powerful a tool/resource social media has become. The opportunities to turn consumers into advocates using social media is not only immense, it’s priceless. What’s more, because social media is heavily monitored, it is possible to access and analyze more granular data to develop optimized solutions.

There is no doubt that the pharma marketer’s role will continue to change, but the prescription for success is clear: With today’s shrinking budgets and increased patient involvement, technology and a greater, targeted use of data will help pave the way for the big names in pharma to make their mark.



  • Jeff Meehan

    Jeff Meehan is CEO and Co-founder of Jeff’s company facilitates and organizes the global personalized cancer education and collaboration process to improve patient outcomes.


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