Press release: 2014 Multichannel Barometer survey shows Pharma’s painful progress towards digital productivity

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11 June 2014

Press release: 2014 Multichannel Barometer survey shows Pharma’s painful progress towards digital productivity

The 2014 Multichannel Barometer survey from Across Health paints a picture of a Life Sciences industry still struggling to come to terms with the realities of multichannel marketing.
The survey, now in its sixth year, shows digital spend plateauing compared with 2013 (15.6% vs 16% of total marketing budgets). This is in stark contrast to other industries, where spending on multichannel initiatives is already well over 20% and set to increase by 10% in 2014.

Last year’s Barometer report already saw multichannel budgets start to plateau, along with satisfaction levels and confidence in the industry’s ability to understand digital. This suggested that Pharma was entering what the Gartner Group calls the ‘trough of disillusionment’ - a period of waning interest as digital experiments fail to deliver against expectations.
This year’s results confirm that disillusionment as Pharma’s already low confidence and satisfaction levels with multichannel marketing flatten or even fall. Demand for evidence of ROI and dissatisfaction with the level of internal skills available are both growing.
The 2014 Barometer survey shows just over half of companies have a multichannel strategy in place, but only 24% of these (and hence, just 12% of the total group) believe it is well executed; 56% say that although they have a company-wide digital strategy it is not implemented rigorously and 20% say the validity of their strategy is in question. The picture is strikingly similar for digital brand strategies.

The most used digital tactics are not always those perceived to be most effective. Despite registering as having only medium impact, Pharma-owned websites remain the most commonly used digital channel, cited as standard practice with 80% of respondents. High-impact tactics are underused in comparison; only tablet detailing, standard practice with 71% of respondents was identified in the survey as high-use/high-impact.
Integrated cross-channel campaigns, identified as very impactful by survey respondents, are standard practice with just 25%, although pilots are being run or planned by 40%. High-impact focused patient tactics are just emerging - patient adherence tools, for example, are standard practice with only 26% of respondents.
Perceived levels of internal expertise are dropping and have arguably not moved ahead since 2009 when 31% of respondents rated their knowledge as sufficient. In 2014 that figure has fallen back to 25%.

CEO of Across Health Fonny Schenck says this year’s Barometer survey shows that the ‘long fuse’ analogy is particularly appropriate at this time in Pharma’s digital development. “It may still take a while before the healthcare market ‘explodes’, but it is high time to start preparing for this transformational event.”

He believes companies need to focus on implementing company-wide multichannel strategy, processes, technology, KPIs and governance and on developing the right set of multichannel tactics. “Rolling these out at scale and measuring for performance are key steps to move beyond the trough of disillusionment,” he explains.
“We do see an increasing focus on such strategic efforts – maybe 2015 will be the first year of the ‘plateau of productivity’ and 2014 the last year of the long fuse. Healthcare has traditionally been a slow adopter of new technologies at scale. This reduces the business pressures on Pharma to take the leap of faith. In life sciences, multichannel is very much evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.”

More information about the Multichannel Barometer 2014 results can be found here.