As I gather from different sources, an increasing number of Indian pharma companies are increasingly embracing digitalization in their marketing operations, especially after the crippling experience during the Covid lockdown period. They realize the use of digital platforms would be a great enabler for them to reach a wider audience, promote their products, and engage with healthcare professionals more effectively, in any given situation. The depth, span, and speed of adaptation of this initiative is fast gathering momentum in the capable hands of astute marketers.
In this article, I shall explore this area to ferret out the fact, whether ‘The Indian pharma industry’s apathy towards Digital Marketing’ is a misgiving or still a reality. However, I would start with an important note about getting caught in some possible controversies due to occasional overenthusiasm in this space.
Some possible reasons for a brouhaha or controversy:
There may be several reasons why a brouhaha or controversy could continue surrounding the use of digitalization in Indian pharma companies’ marketing operations. Some possible factors include:
- Compliance and Regulatory Issues: Digital marketing practices must ensure full compliance with regulations set by regulatory bodies, such as the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and the Medical Council of India (MCI). Any violation of these regulations can lead to legal consequences and damage the reputation of the companies involved.
- Misinformation, data Integrity and Misleading Claims: The widespread use of digital platforms can make it easier for misleading, breach of data integrity and false claims to be disseminated. Regulators and critics may raise concerns about the accuracy of information being shared and the potential impact on patient health.
- Privacy, cyberthreats and Data Security: The use of digital platforms involves the collection and storage of user data. Privacy concerns, including cyberthreats, can arise if pharmaceutical companies do not handle personal information responsibly or if patient data is compromised due to inadequate security measures.
- Unethical Practices: There have been instances where pharmaceutical companies have been accused of engaging in unethical practices in their marketing efforts. These may include off-label promotion (promoting a drug for an unapproved use), undue influence on healthcare professionals, or aggressive marketing tactics that prioritize sales over patient welfare.
It is important to recognize that the specific reasons for the ongoing brouhaha on this topic may have further evolved. From this perspective, let me now focus on a few Indian examples where using digital tools and analytics could offer several advantages for domestic pharmaceutical companies, as available from different sources.
Examples of some areas where Indian players are using digital tools:
Here are some recent examples of how Indian pharmaceutical companies have utilized digital tools and analytics in their marketing operations, as available in the public domain:
- Enhanced Targeting: Aurobindo Pharma Limited has implemented data analytics to identify key customer segments for targeted marketing. By analyzing prescribing patterns and patient demographics, they tailor their marketing efforts to reach specific healthcare professionals and patient groups more effectively.
- Personalized Marketing: Biocon Limited has embraced digital tools to deliver personalized marketing content. Through their digital platforms, such as websites and mobile applications, they provide customized information about their products, disease education materials, and patient support resources.
- Improved Marketing ROI: Lupin Limited has utilized digital analytics to measure the performance of their marketing campaigns. By tracking key metrics, such as website engagement, social media interactions, and email response rates, they can optimize their marketing spend and allocate resources to channels that yield higher returns.
- Efficient Resource Allocation: Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd has leveraged digital tools and analytics to optimize resource allocation. They analyze market data and customer behavior to identify regions and healthcare facilities with the highest growth potential, enabling them to allocate their sales resources strategically.
- Real-time Market Insights: Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd utilizes digital tools and analytics to monitor real-time market insights. By leveraging social listening tools and data analytics platforms, they stay updated on market trends, competitor activities, and customer feedback, enabling them to adapt their marketing strategies accordingly.
- Improved Customer Engagement: Cipla Ltd has focused on improving customer engagement through digital channels. They utilize social media platforms, online forums, and chatbots to interact with healthcare professionals and patients, providing information, answering queries, and offering support.
- Streamlined Communication: Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd has implemented digital communication tools to streamline interactions with healthcare professionals. They utilize virtual meeting platforms, webinars, and online training sessions to engage with physicians, pharmacists, and other stakeholders more efficiently, eliminating geographical barriers.
- Data-driven Decision Making: Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Limited leverages data analytics for data-driven decision making. By analyzing sales data, market trends, and customer feedback, they gain insights that inform their strategic decisions regarding product launches, marketing campaigns, and market expansion.
These examples demonstrate how Indian pharmaceutical companies have harnessed digital tools and analytics while recomposing notes in a pharma marketing playbook to enhance their business operations. However, please note that specific initiatives and strategies are still evolving, and the extent of adoption may vary among different companies.
From the above perspective, I reckon, Indian drug companies are increasingly embracing digital toolsand analytics to enhance their marketing efforts. With the advancement of technology and the growing importance of digital channels, pharmaceutical players in India are recognizing the need to adapt and leverage digital tools to stay competitive and effectively reach their target audience. Hence, any feeling about the ‘Indian pharma industry’s apathy towards Digital Marketing’ seems to be a misgiving to me.
By: Tapan J. Ray
Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.