Reshaping pharmaceutical marketing: trends according to McKinsey

Predicting future trends has been a human and scientific endeavour that has evolved over time and has a solid and rigorous basis.

Just to mention one of the best-known authors who used innovative qualitative systems, there was John Naisbitt, who started from newspaper readings and analyses leading to the definition of objective trends.

Forecasting is especially helpful at times of high uncertainty. But that is what consultants and analysts are there for: scenarios and forecasts based on recent data, market analyses, surveys, trends, mathematical models and more complex ones.

There is a significant difference between hypothesising scenarios and defining trends: the latter are precise indications of what is changing and the direction that the analysed events will take; the former, on the other hand, are fans of hypotheses that may occur together or alternately and are of little use in redefining our plans.

Megatrends to watch

Kevin Sneader, global leader at McKinsey, in an episode of "Inside the Strategy Room", mentions several macro trends to watch, among them I mention a few: innovation, consumer behaviour, "virtual" healthcare, digital, but above all what he calls the ongoing "healthcare revolution". All these megatrends do not act in parallel in changing pharmaceutical marketing in Italy but overlap to shape 'the new normal'. In particular, I will highlight the healthcare revolution; this, according to business consultant and top executive Sneader, impacts at the very least:

  • the doctor-patient relationship,
  • telemedicine and teleassistance,
  • new investments in health care by governments,
  • investments in research and development that have led to advances in the pharmaceutical sector.

These megatrends in pharmaceuticals do not run parallel but intertwine, suggesting a completely new future for pharmaceutical marketing in Italy compared to the past. Of all the sectors named, health and healthcare is obviously the one most frequently mentioned and most subject to a transformation that is a consequence of all the elements mentioned.

Innovation is the first trend our author mentions. This means: increasing patents, embracing new technologies in a pervasive way, updating and revising all activities in critical terms also using new IT platforms, investing in research and development, accelerating business activities.

Let's take consumer behaviour: greater use of online, different purchasing behaviour in pharmacies, greater awareness of one's own decision-making power and orientation in consumption, demand from companies for transparent processes and adherence to ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) values, desire to be present in therapeutic decision-making paths, greater health literacy (health literacy, knowledge and awareness in health choices).

In virtual health care, even our author points out: 'In-person visits to the doctor's office have given way to telemedicine and this will continue. But science is not standing still. Although recent spending on healthcare may be reduced, it has been a huge step change. The COVID-19 pandemic led to $180 billion being spent on research to bring us vaccines and other tools. The previous health crisis involving the Zika virus saw $1.1 billion spent, so the current investment is 180 times larger. We're going to see very large increases in investment, which is why the 'biological revolution' will be so important". How much of an impact will this have on our day-to-day pharmaceutical marketing?

The new consumer attitude is likely to significantly change primary care, and in fact is changing it in Italy as well in a marked way starting with electronic prescriptions, use of email and WhatsApp for dialogue with the doctor, and the growing relationship through remote channels between informant and doctor. This is where the multichannel pharmaceutical marketing model and the multitouchpoint model emerge prominently. Models in which Merqurio has invested over the years, building specific skills and success stories, before it became a "must".

Predicting trends to win the revolution

Trainer explains it well: 'It is worth remembering, however, that this is a disruption unlike any other. It was not caused by an economic storm but a health storm".

The global health crisis we have just experienced is a real opportunity for those who have the desire to seize the opportunity to win: in times of revolution you can win by just reading about the possible future and trying to apply it in your work, considering that with "the new normal" nothing will be the same as before. Whether, strategically, you are moving in the direction of implementing these changes or whether you are waiting for the storm to pass will make all the difference in the coming years. Merqurio has long offered solutions that yesterday appeared innovative: today they are tools for a new normal.

Salvatore Ruggiero

Salvatore Ruggiero

Salvatore Ruggiero nasce a Napoli nel 1964, si definisce un imprenditore seriale. Oggi a capo del gruppo Merqurio, di cui è stato anche fondatore. Sposato con Giuseppina, ha due figli e nel tempo libero, tra un'escursione e un'altra, tra un film ed un altro, è alla ricerca della ricetta dei biscotti perfetti.

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