The pharmaceutical industry has become a chief player in the marketing of their products. As its leading companies have such a strong presence in Ireland, and the fact that its marketing policies are forced to vary from country to country, I found it to be a very appropriate topic. It is a highly regulated industry, governed by different global statutory bodies, each incorporating different laws, which marketers must be aware of. I discuss how different global legislation can affect marketing strategies, and ultimately sales.
I also thought this would be a fascinating area to study in terms of ethics. Pharmaceutical companies are seen to be generating huge revenue streams, while good health is not equally distributed. As I previously lived in Canada, I was able to receive insights from a sample of both Canadian and Irish residents to determine how pharmaceutical companies are viewed.
Finally culture affects all multinational companies, so I will discuss how it exclusively affects the marketing strategies and campaigns of these global pharmaceutical giants.
Evolution of marketing
The marketing of prescription drugs has always been a controversial topic due to the sensitive nature of the product; hence heavy legislation hugely affects the promotion of a drug. The major players of the industry are huge multinationals, so must be aware of the different requirements of each market, not just legislation but also the needs of customers and the social norms of the environment which they reside.
There are many trends that affect the market of pharmaceuticals including more knowledgeable consumers, the aging population, the impact of the financial crises, and rapid scientific advancements. Marketers need to consistently adapt their strategies to follow these trends and meet the changing demands of consumers. Yet, the aim has been and always will be to get the consumer from unawareness of a medication to repeat usage (Lidstone, MacLennon, 1999):
Marketing has changed due to emergence of new media, most notably, the internet. This technology age has changed the shape of marketing as it’s more preoccupied with the mass circulation of customized communications targeted to smaller demographics (Forbes, 2013). However pharmaceutical marketing has lagged behind this trend, instead opting for the old reliable “ask your doctor” tagline. Marketers need to be aware of the more informed consumer, due to their research ability. Consumers don’t need to solely rely on the product claims anymore but can also look up reviews and substitutes.
Arguably the most integral part of the pharmaceutical marketing campaign takes the form of detailing. This occurs where representatives of drug companies visit physicians, and sell them on their products. The product claims are made here, as are the medications’ unique selling points. The aim of this is for the doctor to choose, for example, Pfizer’s Lipitor drug over a generic substitute. However this is where ethical concerns...