Pharma insight on digital marketing, social media, mobile apps, online video, websites and interactive healthcare tools
by Dominic Tyer
The pharmaceutical industry's global investment in online channels increased by 40 per cent last year, according to new data.
A promotional audit by Cegedim Strategic Data (CSD) identified a 65 per cent leap in US spending on e-detailing, emailing and webinar/webcast type promotions compared with 2011 levels.
In Europe, spending in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the UK saw these same digital channels grow by nearly 40 per cent, but CSD, which did not break-out these figures, said European digital marketing investments were “only a fraction of what is spent in the US”.
The healthcare analysts say differences between the US and Europe reveal a 'developmental lag' as well as higher stateside rates of acceptance for digital channels from healthcare professionals.
Christopher Wooden, vice president of CSD Global Promotion Audit, said: “Two main factors have helped drive this move to digital: First, the reality of the patent cliff leaves companies with less money to invest in sales force.
“Secondly, technology has advanced to a point where its use as part of the multichannel strategy is becoming more attractive and less expensive. Pharma marketing in the US is clearly leading the way but we expect to see continued rapid expansion in Europe as well.”
Pharma marketing spending flat
Despite the marked increase in online channel investments, CSD say the bigger picture in pharmaceutical marketing is that total spending remained flat between 2011 and 2012.
Their projections put worldwide total promotional spending by pharma at $90bn in 2012, and say major sales force cuts in established markets offset increases in emerging markets.
The last year saw a swathe of significant job reductions in the US from the likes of AstraZeneca, Abbott and Novartis; cuts that CSD say contributed to an industry-wide drop of 10 per cent in US sales forces.
And the European picture appears worse, with the top five markets seeing a 12 per cent drop in sales force numbers.
So it was left to emerging markets to level out pharma's global marketing investment, with the way led by China, where total marketing spend increased by 20 per cent to nearly $2bn.