Survey: Pharma's DTC Marketing Embraces Web

The Web is king to pharma who are focusing more attention on building relationships with consumers, according to Cegedim Dendrite's latest DTC Industry Check-Up Survey.

According to the annual survey, pharma companies in 2007 will increase their spending on online activities, such as Web sites, search engine marketing, and e-mail, but will decrease buys in traditional advertising areas such as national TV advertising, spot TV, radio and direct mail.

"It's a much more sophisticated use of the Internet," says Dominique Hurley, vice president/general manager of relationship marketing operations at the the Bedminster, N.J.-based Cegedim Dendrite, which provides technology products and services to the global pharmaceutical industry. TV spots often are used to drive traffic to the Web site, where the focus is on engaging the customer and forming a relationship.

Pharma marketing has become much more integrated over the years, Hurley says.

"[Marketers] are focusing much more on how their two customer constituencies--physicians and patients--interact with each other," she says. "They are both customers of the pharmaceutical industry, and of course, you can't have one without the other."



In the past, the two were treated as "silos" in the marketing mix, with different groups working on marketing for each individually, Hurley tells Marketing Daily. Now, the two groups work much more closely together.

The survey polled 134 companies comprised of pharmaceutical companies, ad agencies, consulting firms and vendors. The fifth annual report probes the concerns of industry participants, identifies areas of opportunity and specifies trends in spending and marketing mix. The survey's responses were from a cross-section of U.S. manufacturers, agencies and vendors.

Companies also are relying more on educational programs at pharmacies and physician offices and newsletters, as well as refill reminders, to encourage consumers to take medicines both initially and long term, the survey shows.

The survey shows cautious optimism about overall DTC spending growth for 2007. While DTC spending is not experiencing the growth it has had in previous years, nearly half of respondents expect DTC spending to increase this year. However, only a quarter expect it to increase by more than 5%.

The biggest challenge in DTC marketing continues to be government regulations, which were cited by 61% of respondents--up from 50% last year.

Adverse consumer reaction to DTC marketing was mentioned as a problem by only 31% of respondents this year, down from 44% last year. Last year's survey took place during the highly publicized removal of Merck's Vioxx from the market due to heart attack risks, which explains the much higher number, Hurley says.

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