Does eCommerce Represent a Challenge or an Opportunity for the Consumer Health Industry?

Nov 27, 2019

In early November, more than 80 people gathered for our Consumer Health Event, which provided an overview of the e-pharmacy landscape, presented emerging global and EU market trends, and revealed how others are successfully engaging with customers digitally. In addition to podium presentations, guests were able to explore booths featuring live demos of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tailor-made for engagement with Healthcare Providers, dashboarding solutions, the digital answer to sample management, and a tool that provides critical insights on social media conversations.

The Rise of E-Commerce

Growth in the global pharma market is slowing and forecasted to be 3.6 percent Compound Annual Growth Rate (CACR) at ex-manufacturer prices through 2023. In contrast, the global eCommerce market is more than twice as large as the global pharma and is growing at a significantly faster rate, about 20.7 percent. The traditional supply chain market in pharma is being squeezed by ePharmacies, direct-to-patient sales, and exclusive hospital deals. Meanwhile, ePharmacy is becoming an increasingly important sector of the overall pharmacy market, but the share it holds of the total market differs greatly by product segment.

599_Consumer Health_Female in store looking at cellular device 

The Changing E-Commerce Landscape in Belgium

Much the same dynamic is playing out in Belgium where the number of pharmacies is declining for a variety of reasons, including cost reduction, regulations, the rise of online distributors, changing consumer behavior, and new supply chain technologies. At the same time, eCommerce is ever more popular, representing 20 percent of all shopping spend across sectors. It is significant in the healthcare sector as well. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of consumers use digital sources for research before buying over-the-counter medications, and nearly 20 percent of all social media conversations include a health-related topic.

Measuring the Impact in Stationary Pharmacies

One case study demonstrated that digital engagement offers a great opportunity to pick up consumers in a fast and inexpensive way. Beiersdorf AG, a global skin care company, was launching a digital media campaign for one of its product lines and wanted to know if promotion via YouTube would be effective and, if so, whether it would have a ripple effect on offline purchases. IQVIA worked with the company to develop the digital strategy and define the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Following a test campaign that consisted of a YouTube test region and a control region and that covered 948 pharmacies, the company did see incremental sales in stationary pharmacies. The Beiersdorf product manager said, “The approach works for small campaigns with significant results! Think big and use the approach to test your own campaigns.”

Consumer Health_Checking heart rate on cell phone

Social Listening Made Easy... and Compliant

Social media is disrupting business by giving consumers a voice and a platform to share their views. The average consumer in Belgium spends 90 minutes a day on social media, and can be described as a “Consumer 2.0.” Today’s 2.0 consumers are health focused, highly digitized, informed, connected, and empowered. They expect information immediacy, and they expect personalized engagement with brands.

Companies that embrace this change and perform retrospective analytics on what consumers are saying digitally have a great opportunity to understand consumers’ desires and concerns, to spot new trends, to identify potential line extensions, develop campaigns that resonate with consumers, and make informed brand decisions.

But “listening in” is easier said than done given the sheer volume of posts across millions of sites and the unstructured nature of the data. To facilitate the process, IQVIA has launched a Social Intelligence Technology Platform that provides live dashboards for analysis and monitoring as well as an Adverse Events (AE) Tracker to ensure compliance with agency reporting requirements. IQVIA’s experts configure the platform (which is built on an Artificial-Intelligence (AI) consumer insights engine from Brandwatch), creating the appropriate filters to serve a company’s specific listening needs. And, our teams ensure that AEs are tracked and identified around the clock for full regulatory compliance.

Jump in, with Your Eyes Wide Open

Presenters at the event urged participants first to understand the potential value of digital channels before attempting to deploy digital promotion on a large scale. Success factors include being well prepared with insights into your audience and having the ability to track performance in a way that links your results to your investment. Fortunately, IQVIA is a capable partner who can support your efforts with market research expertise, a social listening solution, and dashboarding tools.