Pharmaceutical companies are projected to generate $10.6 billion in sales
through direct marketing in 2008. That number is expected to reach as
much as $15.2 billion by 2012, according to a study from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).
In recent years, DR marketing has become essential to all those in the industry — from small research
and development companies to large pharmaceutical
retailers — as an effective way to reach physicians
and consumers. The pharmaceutical DR marketing
budget for 2008 is estimated at more than $1 billion,
meaning that DR will represent an ROI of $10.27 for
every $1 spent.
On top of these huge expenditures, the pharmaceutical market is changing in other ways. Patents on
drugs are expiring and therefore more generics will
be released in the next few years, granting a major
opportunity for smaller companies to compete with
the “Big Pharma” leaders. So for those manufacturing
generics, it will be up to the marketers to create value
for the drug, target individuals, follow buying patterns and reach out to fully engage the consumer.
“We’re now seeing the effectiveness of the 60-
second spot waning and failing to engage the patient
because of the way media is changing,” says Jay Bolling, president of Montgomeryville, Pa.-based Roska
Healthcare. Doctors and patients are turning to
digital outlets — such as the Internet, PDAs, mobile
phones and electronic clipboards — for education.
Broader economic constraints have also impacted
the pharmaceutical industry. Therefore, general advertising spend is down and targeted, more accountable DR efforts are up. Not to mention, advertising
pharmaceuticals involves adhering to Federal Drug
Administration (FDA) requirements.
“There has been a steady increase in direct response marketing, largely because it is a great marriage between the needs of the healthcare consumer,
the regulatory requirements of the industry and the
accountability and effectiveness requirements of
pharmaceutical manufacturers,” says Keli Bennett
Walbert, a partner at W² Healthcare Consulting.
However, the strictness of conveying “fairness”
and educational information can actually benefit the
DR space. “FDA requirements for the distribution of
patient information in media also results in the inclusion of response vehicles in all media — either an
800 number or Web site — thereby allowing manufacturers to meet network requirements for DR media
rates,” says Bennett Walbert.
The success of DR marketing pharmaceuticals in
2008 and well beyond lies on the Web. Individuals
learned in the past decade that the Web could actu-