How to get started with smarter marketing in healthcare

Data is the new oil. But just like oil needs to be refined to be usable as fuel, data needs to be distilled into actionable insights to make smarter marketing decisions. This article will help you understand the key insight themes that pharma marketers need to dig for to create a competitive moat and we will also cover in brief the expert recommended ways to collect the data needed to draw valuable insights.

A well-designed marketing insights system reconciles what pharma marketers would like to know, what they really need to know and what information is feasible to obtain.

The last 3 years have been challenging for Indian pharma marketers due to various regulatory and business headwinds. The sectors challenges have been compounded with current state of flux on the distribution front

a. How would the fixed trade margins impact the supply chain?

b. E-pharmacies friend or foe?

In such an environment, actionable market information helps marketers understand the competitive environment and make better business decisions. The goal is to focus on the customer and track these five key drivers of commercial success:

  • What are the awareness levels, attitudes, and preferences of your product/service vis-a-vis competitors?

  • Are the prescribers and patients satisfied with the product or service, will they recommend it to others?

  • What is your compelling value to attract new prescribers / patients?

  • What unique content do you have to keep your prescribers engaged?

  • What is the field-force telling you about your brand messaging vs competition?

It is important to have a seamless internal marketing intelligence system which can be complemented by specific market research projects. A few of the established customer insight collection techniques for healthcare marketers are:

1. Quantitative Insights

Surveys allow you to collect feedback from a broad prescriber base or a select prescriber segment. These projects are designed to provide quick, efficient and statistically significant insights. Online studies are usually considered the best because they enable faster and better-quality data collection. For example, you could ask doctors why they prescribe a specific molecule/brand or ask patients why they chose your hospital and how it compares to your competitors.

In addition to the numerical and quantitative insights, a pharma marketer needs the emotional context of what stakeholders (doctors/patients) are thinking. These opinions are best captured by undertaking qualitative research.

2. Qualitative Insights

a. Focus Groups

A group of, six to eight participants are screened and brought together, in-person or online, for a guided discussion. An experienced researcher facilitates a conversation and digs in to areas that require that can help improve brand communication and marketing. An online focus group allows more flexibility to include KOLs from multiple cities, without incurring large travel and logistics cost.

b. In-person or Telephone Interviews

For participants who would not attend a group session — e.g. CEOs, CoE Heads of large hospitals or patients with certain personal health conditions — conducting a one-on-one interview increases the likelihood of participation by accommodating the individual’s schedule and need for privacy. This technique allows a moderator to have an in-depth discussion in a setting that the participant is comfortable, helping to unlock greater insights.

Successful research projects need careful planning and preparation. Before starting the research, keep these four critical questions in your mind:

  1. What do we want to learn from the research?

Any strategic project must be focused; the same holds true for research projects. With a clear objective, you ensure the research captures information that will enable you to make better business decisions.

2. How will the insights impact decisions we make?

How will you use the insights generated by the project? A clear objective ensures all the questions asked are only focused on getting answers that will meet your business objectives.

3. Who do you invite to participate in the research?

The selection and exclusion criteria for study participants needs to be carefully designed. This is to ensure that you get the voice of the customer from the segment that you want to target. E.g. Do you want to understand barriers for Rx from low / non prescriber or do you want feedback on a potential drug launch from a high prescriber? What should be regional split?

4. How will you approach these stakeholders - in-house CRM list, third-party panel, a combination of both?

Do you want to understand opinions of existing prescriber/called doctor database? Or, will the study focus on doctors with high practice in the therapy who may not yet a customer? The latter may require tapping into an online research panel.

The three pillars of a successful marketing intelligence project are - Right questions. Actionable Insights. Perfect execution.

All services offered by Pharmapro are geared to offer you meaningful, clear and measurable value. To discuss a specific marketing intelligence project please email us at or submit your project requirement for a customized quote.