Two Primary Reasons Why Indian Pharma Isn’t Doing Great On Digital

Two major challenges why Indian pharma isn't doing great on Digital Marketing, in the backdrop of #DigiSights 2015 - Indian Pharma in Digital marketing conference.

DigiSights 2015

“Pharma marketers should have an integrated approach, rather than opening a Facebook page. Integrated communication is the way to go and not isolated communication.” These were the words of Priti Mohile, Co-Founder and Managing Director, MediaMedic while sharing her thoughts at the #DigiSights event in 2013.

Priti MohileIn 2013, Mediamedic chaired India’s first digital marketing conference in Pharma and Healthcare – DigiSights. The conference concluded its second edition yesterday and once again Priti persisted that the focus should be on “Why” and not building another mobile app or creating a video or being present on a new social network. “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 further added, “The move has to be doctor and patient centric; you need to touch lives rather than being just a logistic company.”

Read also: Live coverage of the event – part one and part two.

Nothing much has changed in the last two years for Pharma in the digital space. While the country has adopted a digital revolution and is fast inching towards a mobile economy, Pharma is still not doing great. Priti shared the same thoughts in her talk titled – “Pharma Marketing objectives that can be addressed via Digital.”

One of the reasons Priti highlighted is that the industry is too much focused on regulations and moving away from customer centricity. While there were six key takeaways from #DigiSights 2015 for digital marketers to excel in Pharma, the industry right now is facing two major challenges in India:

1. Madness for digital gimmicks

Yesterday’s Facebook page is today’s mobile app – a common problem of the digital and social media industry in the country. Three years back every brand wanted to be on Facebook with a million fans and today the same madness has evolved to having a mobile app. Nobody is talking about “Why” do we need an app or the need to be present on a network. Does that solve the customer problem? Does it reduce the ever-growing divide of doctor and patient?

There is no doubt that India is the fastest growing smartphone market in Asia but just because every one is having a mobile app, isn’t a strong reason.

We need to evolve from these digital gimmicks so that the medium can touch the last mile customer who is often deprived. “It is important to build a solution that addresses a problem simply, rather than just build technology because everyone is doing it,” Priti had shared in an earlier interaction with Lighthouse Insights.

Pharma should focus on building a digital culture with the support of industry decision makers. “Digital is a revolution and we need to build a culture rather than focusing too much on various apps and gimmicks. The industry needs to think that the divide between health professionals and patients should minimize. The future is in the room sitting here, please connect the dots,” said Sanjiv Navangul, Managing Director, Janssen India in his welcome note at #DigiSights 2015.

Unless this is happening we will still be justifying Facebook likes, YouTube views and trending on Twitter as ROI. These are not ROI, they are essential but are only some of the means to achieve ROI. “We need to focus on building a digital culture to reduce the increasing gap between doctors and patients,” Sanjiv explained.

2. Lack of trust for Pharma

“Nobody trusts our Pharma industry, why would today’s evolved world do?” were the opening lines Salil Kallianpur from GSK-Global. Blunt but the accepted truth by everyone present.

Today the customer is well equipped; gone are the days when Pharma industry could take them for a ride. Unless they adopt digital as a culture and start taking data seriously, Pharma marketing in India would be handicapped.

Salil KHowever, Salil believes that if data can become Pharma’s currency, then the industry can serve the customer better and expect the trust to build. “Let’s make data our currency and build a patient centric environment through digital so that people start trusting in our business.”

But India’s heavily regulated market is another bottleneck for playing with data. Sagar Pawar from PwC had reserved thoughts on data being used as the Indian Pharma market is a highly regulated one and one needs to think twice before playing with data.

Nevertheless, lack of trust won’t go away any sooner since Salil informed that social media will work only if the controllers of the market let go their authority/control. “I don’t see that happening any time soon.”

Dinesh Chindarkar, Co-Founder of MediaMedic in an earlier interaction had stated that, “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.”

We might have seen a few cases studies in the day but they are not ground breaking enough to reduce the doctor and patient divide. We are once again adopting tools and not the culture. Unless that happens, Pharma marketing in digital will be at the same spot in the third edition of #DigiSights.