Overview of Pharmaceutical Marketing


What is marketing?

The American Marketing Association defined marketing in 2017 as "the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large".

The Chartered Institute of Marketing definition of marketing is focusing on the customer perspective. In 2017 the institute defined marketing as "the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably".

The well known marketing author Philip Kotler defined marketing in 2018 as "the process by which companies engage customers, build strong customer relationships, and create customer value in order to capture value from customers in return".

The concept of marketing evolves around anticipating the needs and wants of potential consumers and satisfying them more effectively than competitions can do.

From general marketing to pharmaceutical marketing?

Pharmaceutical marketing involves marketing of drugs and medical devices to healthcare professionals and consumers. In order to succeed, pharmaceutical marketers should define the needs of customers and find solutions to meet these needs. Customers of the pharmaceutical industry are classified into prescribers, pharmacists, consumers, payers, and distributors.

The global pharma market is $900 billion and this figure is expected to exceed $1.1 trillion in the next five years. In this competitive market, marketing plays an important role to differentiate companies and drugs from each other. Companies spend more on pharma marketing even more than research and development. Drug companies spend 19 times more on marketing than they spend on research nd development (BMJ, 2012).

Marketing to prescribers:

Marketing to doctors is the most effective channel for pharma companies. Doctors prescribe drugs for the patients to treat certain disease. Consumers (patients) consult their doctors for prescriptions or medical solutions. The likelihood of buying a medicine with the recommendation of a doctor increases if the drug can be covered by insurance. Pharma marketers identify the needs of doctors and provide a solution in a creative way accordingly.

Marketing to consumers:

Consumers (patients) used to consult their doctors for prescriptions or medical solutions. Nowadays majority of patients use internet to search for information related to certain diseases or drugs. Pharma marketers rely on different solutions to target those patients. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) are very important tools.


BMJ, 2012 Pharmaceutical research and development: what do we get for all that money?

AMA definition of marketing.

Chartered Institute of Marketing.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2006). Prescription Drug Marketing Act. Washington: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.