From Digital Gimmicks To Marketing Objectives - Indian Digital Pharma Is Now On The Right Track

DigiSights 2016 showcased a number of insightful global and Indian digital pharma marketing campaigns, reflecting a change in outlook of Indian pharma marketers


Approximately, 80% of women have migraine problem and this motivated Shweta Rai, General Manager, Marketing, Janssen India and her team to build a community around it, create awareness and presence of Janssen in this area.

‘Be myself without migraine’ was chosen as the theme for the campaign. Along with social media, the campaign had SMS, website, in clinic promotion, point of purchases activations, corporate outreach and everything was around educating that visiting a doctor is must.

The campaign has been a success informed Shweta while presenting the case study at DigiSights 2016, a Digital Marketing Conference for Pharma & Healthcare organized almost every year by MediaMedic – a digital agency serving the Pharma market exclusively.

One would be surprised to know that it was this very summit last year, which motivated Shweta and her team to work around content and build a community. The takeaways from DigiSights 2015 have been one of the stepping-stones of the interesting campaign.

Lighthouse Insights has been fortunate enough to report the journey of DigiSights from 2013, 2015 and 2016 while observing how Healthcare has slowly opened up for digital.

Taking the stage of DigiSights 2013, Priti Mohile, Managing Director, MediaMedic had emphasized the challenges of the highly regulated market but she also stressed that this shouldn’t stop Pharma in adopting digital and social media.

At the same time, she had stressed on an interesting insigh: Pharma marketers should not jump to digital just because every one was doing. “They should have an integrated approach, rather than opening a Facebook page. Integrated communication is the way to go and not isolated communication.”

Since then the world moved on to mobile from Facebook and Priti again laid her focus on ‘why’ and not ‘I need a mobile app’. In 2015 marketers were craving for a mobile app after they had won the game of having a Facebook page with few million likes. “You can’t get up one day and say I need an app, ‘why’ has to be worked on – only then it can meet your objectives,” she had pointed out while speaking at DigiSights 2015.

Priti had appreciated that 2015 brought more technology changes but the challenges remained the same. She wasn’t happy with the way Pharma had progressed in the market since it was still too much focused on regulations and moving away from customer centricity. “The move has to be doctor and patient centric; you need to touch lives rather than being just a logistic company.”

Apparently, this was one of reasons that had motivated me to do an article listing down two major reasons that were holding back the Indian Pharma space to adopt digital with open hands. (Read: Two Primary Reasons Why Indian Pharma Isn’t Doing Great On Digital)

While the craze for digital gimmicks is a common trait in almost every industry, lack of trust in Pharma was a big roadblock. “Nobody trusts our Pharma industry, why would today’s evolved world do?” Salil Kallianpur from GSK-Global had share at DigiSights 2015.

He had stressed at the 2015 event that unless we adopt digital as a culture and start taking data seriously, Pharma marketing in India would be handicapped. “Let’s make data our currency and build a patient centric environment through digital so that people start trusting in our business.”

Dinesh Chindarkar, Co-Founder of MediaMedic at that time had stated, “There is no doubt that the future of Pharma is digital along with mobile but that would also mean having clear guidelines in place, educating people and also considering the Pharma industry’s guidelines.”

So I was a bit apprehensive when Lighthouse Insights was invited to cover DigiSights for the third time this year. However, to my surprise DigiSights 2016 saw a complete shift from questioning digital, Pharma Marketers were talking about the marketing objective and how to use digital to solve patient problems.

“Digital connect should be the thought process so that the marketer is relevant with his audience. Don’t build apps, have them if you can connect and solve a problem with patient,” Deepak Singh, Marketing Manager, Pfizer India emphasized during a panel discussion.

Rahul Avasthy, Lead Digital Marketing at Abbott India began sharing his thoughts for the session – “Social Media and Digital Innovations in Pharma” went one step ahead and stressed on having organizational support. “We also need to stop looking digital and shift from a marketing support to organizational support.”

This change is also being reflected in the way MediaMedic has executed a digital campaign around the rare disease Progeria with Team Nihal. #Finding60inIndia the India campaign to inform and educate Progeria patients has recently got a good boost when the Delhi government announced to form a committee to develop a policy for tackling rare genetic diseases like Progeria. (Read: Fighting Progeria With Digital Marketing – A Case Study)

DigiSights 2016 witnessed an amazing number of Global Digital Pharma Marketing Campaigns which were insightful. However, witnessing the digital work in Indian Pharma and the insights shared, one can say quite confidently that Indian Pharma is on the right digital track while setting the right marketing objectives. And let’s not forget all this is being done in a market that is still a highly regulated one!