2021 global marketing trends in the pharma industry

After a tough year of global pandemic, economic collapse, unignorable calls for racial equality, and an ongoing climate crisis, it is time to reflect on things that have changed when it comes to social media and how are these impacting clinical trial recruitment in 2021.

The pandemic brought some serious hurdles for pharma marketers—such as drug-launch delays and an absolute kibosh on in-person contact that may not resolve quickly even when the pandemic begins to fade.

Despite that, the shutdowns and complications also inspired new ideas. The pharma marketers are advancing and rethinking digital strategies, reworking relationships with healthcare providers and patient influencers and advancing digital videos and one-to-one targeting. And, to top it off, the whole industry went through a reputation upgrade.

Will consumers swipe up for pharma ad stories in 2021? 

According to Pranify, a digital pharma ad tracking company, in the second half of 2020, eight pharma marketers placed both branded and unbranded Stories ads. The Stories appear as bubbles or boxes at the top of home screens—when tapped, a short message appears with “sponsored” at the top and the call to action to swipe up to “learn more.”

Google search ads dominated, with 336 pharma brands placing ads there, followed by 182 brands buying display ad units, 122 advertising on Facebook, 70 on Instagram and 25 on Twitter, according to PranifyRx. For comparison, 38 brands advertised on TV during the same time.

The fastest-growing platforms were Facebook and Instagram, with the number of pharma advertisers jumping by 65% since June.

Digital video takes over as the new—and cheaper—TV advertising for pharma

Pharma marketers, even those with big budgets, are embracing digital video as not only a less costly alternative to mainstream TV buys but also as a way to target and engage increasingly fractured audiences when and where they want to watch something. Digital video also does not come with a 30-second time limit, which allows for more in-depth storytelling.

Viewers are watching digital pharma ads everywhere. A mid-year study found mobile as the top spot with 47% of people viewing there, according to video ad tech company Innovid. However, connected TV was not far behind at 37%, which was a jump over last year’s more typical highs in the upper 20%.

Patient influencers are driving results for pharma

Patient influencers on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are driving high-value actions for brands, and pharma is no exception.

Patient influencers are allies who can help pharma brands build stronger connections in patient communities. They are trusted intermediaries other patients look to for information, guidance, and support.

Forward-thinking brand marketers collaborate with influencers to help them reach patients through a voice that is both empathetic and authentic. Patient leaders use their stories and real-world experience to help their peers both understand and cope with their condition. That, in turn, builds brand trust.

Whatever 2021 may hold, public interest in the industry is at an all-time high. From baby boomers debating vaccine attributes to Generation Z teens talking about mRNA on TikTok, the pandemic put pharma in the mainstream.

What is your social media strategy for clinical trial recruitment in 2021? If you find it difficult to achieve your recruitment goals, we are here to help. Let’s talk social!