Pharma Marketing: Engaging Consumers Through New Tech

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In an era where technology is rapidly evolving, pharmaceutical marketing departments are stepping up to connect with consumers in new, innovative ways. While traditional methods still have their place, forward-thinking companies are embracing new technologies to modernise and enhance their communication strategies. Let’s explore how pharma marketing departments are leveraging VR, AR, wearable tech and AI technology to create more engaging and personalised experiences for patients and healthcare professionals.

First up, Virtual Reality.

Virtual Reality (VR)

In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in the strategies employed by influential pharmaceutical marketing departments, as they increasingly recognise the potential of virtual reality (VR) technology. This shift is marked by a deliberate effort to leverage VR not just as a novelty but as a powerful tool for creating immersive educational experiences and captivating product demonstrations. By embracing VR, these departments are revolutionising the way they engage with healthcare professionals and consumers alike, recognising the profound impact that immersive experiences can have on knowledge retention and brand perception.

Rather than relying solely on traditional methods of marketing, such as print materials and presentations, pharmaceutical companies are now turning to VR to provide healthcare professionals with unprecedented opportunities to observe complex medical procedures and interact with products in a virtual environment. This immersive approach allows professionals to gain hands-on experience and insights that were previously inaccessible, ultimately enhancing their skills and understanding of pharmaceutical products and procedures. Additionally, VR serves as a dynamic platform for showcasing product features and benefits in a visually compelling manner, leading to increased engagement and brand recognition among target audiences.

As VR technology continues to advance and become more accessible, pharmaceutical marketing departments are poised to further harness its potential to create impactful experiences that resonate with both professionals and consumers. By embracing VR as a central component of their marketing strategies, these departments are not only staying ahead of the curve but also setting new standards for innovation and engagement in the pharmaceutical industry.

Johnson & Johnson and Roche, for example, are using VR simulations to enable healthcare professionals to observe intricate medical procedures and interact with products, ultimately enhancing skills and driving better patient outcomes. Novartis, for instance, is pioneering VR modules for sales representatives to practise in realistic scenarios, thereby improving their effectiveness and product education, heightening brand awareness and customer engagement. And Pfizer’s development of VR applications allows patients to visualise medical conditions and treatment options in a virtual environment, facilitating enhanced patient education and engagement.

Case Study - KYOWA KIRIN 3D Virtual Exhibition

We ourselves have recently worked with the likes of Kyowa Kirin and Porter Novelli to create a 3D Virtual Exhibition, where we ‘hung’ a collection of digitally-enhanced portraits. The aim was to create an engaging and informative online experience which would bring to life patient stories, putting a human face on a rare condition, to help build a community and educate healthcare practitioners. We designed a bespoke branded UI and made the space navigable via cut-scene animations and immersive 360 viewpoints. The exhibition was populated with rich media content such as videos and interactive infographics, allowing users to explore, discover and become informed, or visit the dedicated resource centre room containing more detailed medical information and calls to action. The exhibition has become a flagship for Kyowa Kirin and Porter Novelli’s outreach campaigns, and has been translated into 6 languages, to reach more communities around the world. See the project in full here.

Here’s what Jake Wyatt from the Porter Novelli team had to say about the XLH project: “Through researching different vendors, we found CIRCUS online and what made them stand out was their online presence, and great examples of similar work they had created in the past. Following our initial call with the team, we could see they already understood the idea and what we wanted to do with the campaign. We worked closely with CIRCUS to discuss what the project would look like, and they understood our vision very quickly. They developed the exhibition space, suggested content that we should create to enhance the experience of attendees, and delivered the final product on the date we asked. Our client is extremely pleased with the outcome! CIRCUS communicated really well with us and kept us in the loop with timings regularly. They really understood our brief, as the design space they developed was spot on.”

Case Study - MERCK VR Product Showcase

We’ve also created a VR Product Showcase for Merck, in collaboration with Porter Novelli, to help captivate global audiences at international conferences. Merck’s objective was to craft an immersive experience showcasing the intricate manufacturing process of one of their flagship pharmaceutical products, crucial for thyroid patients worldwide. Opting for a Virtual Reality product demo, we guided them through a meticulous planning process, culminating in a two-day shoot in Germany, where the production team captured footage inside the factory, donning protective gear and orchestrating shots within the machinery.

Back in London, our post-production team designed CG elements, simulating the chemical production process and incorporating animation sequences to enhance the immersive journey, utilising real-world and CG footage rendered in high-resolution stereoscopic 8K 180-degree video.

The culmination of these efforts resulted in a three-minute immersive tour, showcasing the production process in stunning detail, seamlessly blending real-world and CG elements. Translated into four languages with native voice-overs and localised visuals, the experience was then loaded onto VR headsets accompanying Merck’s booth at global events, empowering healthcare professionals to grasp the precision and superiority of the product, fostering its positioning as the premier choice in the market. This initiative not only served(s) to educate but also elevates Merck’s brand presence, leaving a lasting impact on audiences worldwide.

Looking ahead, as VR technology evolves and becomes more accessible, pharmaceutical marketing departments have a plethora of opportunities—from virtual conferences to remote sales presentations—to connect with audiences irrespective of location. This transformative potential positions companies like Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Novartis, Merck and Kyowa Kirin at the forefront of pharmaceutical marketing, offering them a distinct competitive edge in the industry’s dynamic landscape.

Augmented Reality (AR):

Augmented reality (AR) is another virtual tool that is rapidly transforming the landscape of pharmaceutical marketing. With AR technology, pharmaceutical marketing departments are changing the way they showcase products, educate stakeholders, and deliver memorable experiences.

One key area where AR is making a significant impact is in product visualisation and demonstration. Companies like Roche and Sanofi are leveraging AR to provide interactive demonstrations of their products, allowing healthcare professionals to explore features and functionalities in a virtual environment. This immersive approach not only enhances understanding but also leaves a lasting impression, leading to increased brand recognition and loyalty.

Moreover, AR is being used to create personalised experiences tailored to individual preferences and needs. GlaxoSmithKline’s ‘AR playbook’ offers customised dosing instructions, while Bayer’s interactive packet leaflets for One Day drugs provide users with engaging content. Pfizer’s AR smartphone app allows patients to relate different product choices to their unique pain experiences, empowering them to make informed decisions about their treatment options.

Another exciting application of AR in pharmaceutical marketing is in healthcare professional education. Companies like Roche are using AR to train professionals on complex medical procedures, providing a safe and interactive learning environment. Additionally, AR is being employed to raise awareness and educate about specific medical conditions, as seen with ETHOSH’s app for glaucoma awareness.

In the coming months and years, the potential of AR in pharmaceutical marketing is vast. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative uses of AR, from virtual patient consultations to augmented reality-enhanced packaging. Allowing marketing teams to deliver immersive and impactful experiences that resonate with their audience in a rapidly evolving digital world.

Wearable tech

In the dynamic world of pharmaceutical marketing we’ve noticed that wearable technology is emerging as a powerful tool for engagement and data-driven insights. Pharma companies are increasingly leveraging wearables to connect with customers on a deeper level and gather valuable health data for personalised experiences.

One significant application of wearable tech in pharma marketing is in the development of digital patient companion apps. AstraZeneca’s collaboration with software developer Huma exemplifies this trend, as they work to create apps that harness wearable-sourced data to provide personalised health insights and support. These apps not only empower patients to take control of their health but also enable pharma companies to offer tailored services and interventions based on real-time health metrics.

Furthermore, wearable technology is driving innovation in personalised fitness plans, as seen with Novo Nordisk’s utilisation of wearables to develop customised fitness programmes for their customers. By integrating wearable data into their marketing strategies, pharma companies can offer more targeted solutions that resonate with individual needs and preferences. This data-driven approach not only enhances customer engagement but also enables companies to deliver more effective interventions and support, ultimately improving health outcomes.

As wearable technology continues to evolve, its role in pharmaceutical marketing will only expand, offering new opportunities for customer engagement and personalised healthcare solutions.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Pharmaceutical marketing departments are also embracing AI-driven solutions to enhance customer engagement and revolutionise their approach to marketing. AI-powered chatbots like Medibot from Pfizer and Fabi from Novartis provide personalised support and information on medications, ensuring round-the-clock assistance and bolstering customer satisfaction. Additionally, AI-based analytics tools, developed in collaboration with tech giants like Microsoft, enable marketers to extract valuable insights from vast amounts of data, allowing for deeper understanding of consumer behaviour and preferences.

Furthermore, AI enables pharmaceutical companies to deliver personalised marketing campaigns tailored to individual preferences and demographics. Through predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms, marketers can segment audiences and deliver targeted messaging that resonates with specific customer segments, leading to higher engagement and conversion rates. Moreover, AI-powered content generation tools streamline the content creation process, empowering marketers to produce timely and engaging content at scale, including articles, blog posts, and social media updates. AI is also being used within virtual marketing tools such as virtual tours and virtual demonstrations, to offer more personalised experiences – using the likes of AI guides, AI voiceovers and AI customer service.

Beyond marketing, AI is driving advancements in drug discovery and development processes. Machine learning algorithms analyse vast datasets to identify potential drug candidates more efficiently, accelerating the development of life-saving medications. Additionally, AI-powered compliance monitoring tools help ensure adherence to regulatory guidelines, mitigating risks associated with marketing campaigns and safeguarding brand reputation.

The integration of AI into pharmaceutical marketing represents a transformative shift, enabling companies to stay competitive, shape targeted marketing strategies, meet evolving customer needs, and drive innovation across the industry.

In summary

The pharmaceutical industry is at the forefront of embracing new technologies to connect with consumers in more meaningful ways. From AI-powered chatbots to immersive VR experiences and personalised wearable tech, these innovations are revolutionising how pharma marketing departments engage with patients and healthcare professionals. As technology continues to evolve, pharma companies that embrace these advancements will remain competitive and better equipped to meet the changing needs of their consumers.

If you would like to learn more about immersive tech that could enhance pharma marketing departments like yours, book an ‘Inspiration Session’ today.

We’ll be more than happy to bring you up to speed on what’s happening in your sector and how virtual tools can increase engagement whilst remaining compliant to regulations!

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