The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed pharma engagement further into the digital space. Social distancing and lockdown measures means that patients are relying more on the internet, and pharma companies can capitalize on this.

Within the digital space, unbranded campaigns respond to the demands of an increasingly tech-savvy consumer seeking personalized information for their individual health needs.

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Pharma companies are tapping into the potential of social media engagement

Over the past few years, pharma companies have experimented with social media channels. The pandemic accelerated and transformed this trend into robust social strategies across digital media channels. According to Ogilvy Health, social media is the “shopfront window of the industry,” through which companies can better engage with healthcare providers and patients alike.

By increasing social media engagement, pharmaceutical companies are also able to be more creative. This October, AbbVie introduced the patient awareness campaign, ‘My Glaucoma, My Design’ encouraging people to share  stories and photos on how they manage their glaucoma on the My Glaucoma Facebook page. This campaign also included NFL Player Von Miller, a known sufferer from the disease.

Robert Shildt, Boehringer Ingelheim’s Director of Cardiovascular Marketing, claims that unbranded disease education was needed before Covid-19. Developments in technology which predate Covid-19, such as the rise of social media and digital forums, have meant that patients are looking to these platforms for information relating to their own health needs

Unbranded campaigns can help to combat consumer distrust

Unbranded campaigns empower the patient by making them feel part of the conversation. They also foster more consumer trust. According to a GlobalData Survey from 2019, almost two-thirds of consumers trust social media posts by doctors versus only 36% who trust posts from pharmaceutical firms.

Gilead Director of Digital Innovation, Anand Reddi claims that trusted medical information is “tantamount” during these times. The pandemic makes it more important than ever for consumers to have access to specific, reliable information online to manage their health needs, as they are not able to have in-clinic appointments with doctors.

Consumer trust will also be vital for the effective  uptake of Covid-19 vaccines. According to a survey published by Pharmafield, 54% of 1,022 people said that they would not take a vaccine until it had been tested for a year. This makes unbranded information campaigns more vital than ever for gaining the trust of both patients and healthcare providers distributing these medicines.

A targeted approach to reach the right audiences

It is also important for pharmaceutical companies to target their digital marketing towards specific demographics, and therefore to understand how potential consumers use social media. For example, GlaxoSmithKline, observed that older consumers used Facebook and Pandora, a social networking site, and altered their unbranded “Brought to you by Vaccines” campaign accordingly.

Gilead’s PrEP Hub platform, introduced in June of this year, offers information on HIV prevention for people at various stages of the illness. It includes resources on telemedicine, tests to help patients monitor their own health, and assists with prescription delivery. During this pandemic, a patient’s ability to monitor their own health remotely is essential. Unbranded campaigns and online platforms help to inform and empower patients unable to access in-clinic appointments with their doctor.

Ultimately, the relationship between increasing demand for trustworthy information and the growth of digital marketing is symbiotic. The pandemic’s impact has led to a growing reliance on social media and online platforms to seek the information necessary to manage health. Online campaigns foster more confidence in pharmaceutical companies. Increased trust in a company will improve its reputation among patients.