The pharmaceuticals and medical devices industry has been subject to fundamental changes in recent years and will be facing even more pressure in the future. As growth in the established western markets is partly stagnating or even declining due to new regulations, patent expiry, empty product pipelines and increasing access hurdles, cost reduction and efficiency increase are on top of today’s agenda. Especially marketing and sales cost as one of the major expense factors are under review. The traditional “Share of Voice” model designed for marketing blockbusters seems to be outdated. Companies are thus forced to find alternative strategies to efficiently approach the changing customer landscape. Therefore, multichannel strategies and the proper management of various channels have come into focus of many companies as a means to develop and establish new ways for customer communication.

From the industry’s perspective today, several market conditions in pharmaceuticals and medical devices market are heavily asking to prepare for an efficient and comprehensive Multi-Channel Management:

  • Access to physicians is more and more limited
  • Importance of alternative information channels is strongly increasing
  • Cost of marketing and sales need to be more stringently controlled than in the past
  • Strong shift from push to pull marketing is ongoing
  • Different communication behavior is requested by customers with changing preferences
  • Relevance for margin contribution of the tail-end portfolio is increasing

Although the process of establishing multichannel management in the pharmaceuticals and medical devices industry has already started some years ago, commercial successes of such initiatives are still behind expectations. Reason for that is that most companies so far have equated multichannel management with an operational approach to establish online activities such as websites, customer portals or social media. These activities have mostly been established in parallel to traditional sales and marketing channels but have not been integrated into one common approach, often even leading to increasing sales and marketing efforts.

Therefore the major question today is how companies can establish multichannel campaigns to realize aspired results? In order to fully exploit the potential, they have to be set up based on a clear strategy to intensify customer interaction through an efficient coordination of all contact channels across the whole organization. An intelligent balance between customer needs and individual product requirements is crucial to enhance ROI through increasing process efficiency and decreasing marketing and sales costs.

The concluding question for healthcare companies is “when and how” rather than “if” to implement.

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