How can pharma leverage apps?

KEY TAKEAWAY: According to Comscore “within the US, apps were responsible for 88% of mobile consumption in December . That compares with 87% in June, according to prior ComScore data, with app usage at that time relatively equal on smartphones (88%) and tablets (87%). Can pharma companies really leverage apps for business objectives? 

The cost of developing a mobile app can range anywhere from $200K to over $450K.  With pharma budgets being examined for a reduction in expenses, it may be hard to justify that kind of money with a questionable ROI. This is a key reason why pharma companies need to start thinking outside the box and think about “marketing with patents” rather than  “marketing at them”.

First, let’s be clear about apps and their use.  Apps will only get used if the audience finds them valuable. This means that pharma needs to stop concentrating so much on ROI and think more about getting closer to their customers with apps that provide real value.  Second, app’s require updating on a regular basis as new information is made available and new mobile OS’s get updated.  Finally, there are a lot of health problems that may not be suitable for an app.  Patients, sometimes, do not like to be reminded they have a chronic health problem that may need monitoring.

So how can pharma add value and prove to its customers that they care about them beyond selling them a pill?   It’s going to take testing and more testing with input from HCP’s as well as the target audience.   A sales rep who details a physician about an app that can provide better outcomes is going to get heard and the app is going to be recommended to patients.

A new approach to DTC marketing is needed because people are turning away from TV and pharma ads are becoming less effective.  It’s time to think about how we can get closer to our audience and that it’s not all about just selling you an Rx.

I think the two big digital marketing executives hired by two top pharma companies are finally realizing that pharma is great at saying “no” rather than saying “yes”.  I have already heard clients saying that getting money for new projects is an exercise in futility.  But those organizations that look forward and get back to helping people rather than the balance sheet are going to win, big time.


1 thought on “How can pharma leverage apps?

  1. Ever since a leading pharma marketer took the plunge into dtc promotion, seeking momentary advantage on the competition, pharma marketing has deteriorated. This is why we’re seeing survey results that tell us current brand advertising practices are not the answer. This article skirts around important issues such as “what are today’s business objectives?,” “what information should an app offer?,” etc. Indiscriminately inserting a dtc mentality into what was a essentially a successful business-to-business environment was doomed to failure from the start. The respective lifecycle stages–and their respective objectives, strategies, and tactics–are as different as night and day. Because many elements of pharma–including some organizations–are in their late stages (aka “decline”), dtc practices dictated by that situation are what we are now seeing: stratospheric increases in pricing, mergers, acquisitions, sell-offs, etc. It’s time to re-evaluate the pharma marketing model. One size doesn’t fit all, but the evidence is clear that hammering away at consumers using misleading commercials isn’t doing anyone any good. (This all reminds me of a conversation I had with a leading cardiologist during a focus group who was lamenting the fact he had used most of his allotted time with a male patient trying to convince him he wasn’t a candidate for a post-menopausal product he had seen advertised on television. Made me wonder if misdirected and/or misleading advertising was better than none at all! It certainly costs more!)

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