Feb 17, 2023



How Can Pharma Grow Share in Unfavorable Economic Conditions?

An effective pharma marketing strategy requires a keen understanding of consumer behavior, but what happens if a recession hits? Here’s how Healthgrades can help your brand weather the storm.

Despite being part of an essential industry, pharma companies are not immune to economic challenges. Although you may want to cut marketing budgets as consumer demand wanes with soaring prices, doing so can actually put your brand in a tougher position down the line.

Instead, reallocate your media spend to fit Healthgrades into your budget. You’ll intersect more low-funnel patients right before they book an appointment, driving uninterrupted prescriptions even with a possible recession at play. 

Recession-Resilient Tactics for Pharma Marketers

Leading banks worldwide agree that the global economy could be on the cusp of a recession, with economists continuing to monitor indicators. Investment and financial management firm Morgan Stanley reports a 55% probability of a full-fledged recession unfolding in 2023, while JPMorgan predicts the economy will contract by 0.5%. However, the recession’s projected impact on businesses and households is still in contention.

As a pharma marketer, you may be considering cuts to ad spending in preparation for what’s to come. However, market insight from past recessions shows that if you maintain or even increase marketing spending during an economic downturn, you may come out stronger.

Take Toyota’s marketing strategy, for example: the Japanese car manufacturer kept its ad expenditure steady during the 1973 recession. It launched relevant campaigns that addressed the timely oil crisis and how Toyota’s gas-efficient vehicles provided an affordable solution. Three years later, Toyota outpaced Volkswagen as the leading imported car manufacturer in the United States. Likewise, fast food chains Pizza Hut and Taco Bell followed a similar tactic during the 1990 recession: while McDonald’s cut its ad dollars, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell continued investing in ad campaigns. Later, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell saw a 61% and 40% increase in sales, respectively.

During the 2008 recession, overall ad spending dropped by 13%. But as past case studies have shown, this tendency to cut dollars during economic instability leaves room for opportunistic marketers to leverage reduced competitor noise and cheaper ad spaces. Analytics Partners recently reported 60% of brands that invested in marketing during the recession grew their ROI. On the other hand, those that didn’t risked losing 15% of their revenue to competitors. 

By nurturing your pharma marketing budget, you’re positioning your brand as stable during recessionary periods, ultimately leading to better consumer engagement and loyalty.

Effective Pharma Marketing During a Period of Economic Uncertainty

Past slowdowns have had a limited effect on pharma revenue, as net household income and patient demand for healthcare during these periods remain relatively stable. In fact, the demand for pharma products has steadily increased at an annual growth rate of 3.4% since 1992 with no signs of slowing.

While many pharma companies have shifted to specialty drugs and life-changing medications that patients are willing to prioritize, it’s wise not to discount discounts. Patients respond well to brands that recognize how their finances may have changed due to economic strain, so consider advertising Rx discount programs that help patients tackle expensive costs. Optum Perks, for example, is free to use and allows patients to search for lower-cost options at local pharmacies. 

So now that we’re facing another period of economic uncertainty, where should marketers direct their money? Lessons from the 2008 recession have taught us that effective advertising in unfavorable economic conditions relies on two key tactics: prioritizing claims data and increasing low-funnel spending.

Look into ways to improve your claims data. Healthgrades, for example, can help you tap into de-identified healthcare metrics, such as patient demographics, diagnoses, prescribed treatments, and procedures used to create profiles for the ideal consumer, to better understand and connect with the low-funnel patients you’re targeting. 

Like Toyota, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell, you’ll need to maintain or increase your ad spending to see promising results, but you also need to do it in the right places. If you devote the bulk of your media dollars to the top of the funnel—where most consumers aren’t ready to make a purchasing decision—you’ll waste money on non-qualified consumers. Instead, redirect a portion of your dollars toward conversion solutions encouraging patients to book an appointment to speak with their doctor about your brand.

Many companies and organizations are already applying this formula to safeguard their revenue, signaling a need for pharma marketers to follow suit. 

Why Should Healthgrades Be a Budget Priority?

Healthgrades offers low-funnel advertising solutions that drive prescriptions by tapping into qualified patients just before they take action and connect with a healthcare professional. We’ll help you close the patient-physician-pharma loop by motivating and empowering consumers to take action and seek necessary treatment.

Increase the efficiency of your campaign and make it easy for patients to find a specialist directly from your site with Brand GPS. This widget integrates the Healthgrades doctor directory into your site’s native content for seamless appointment booking. With 90% of patients expecting pharma companies to assist them during their patient journey to care, Brand GPS is an invaluable tool that empowers qualified consumers to make confident healthcare decisions.

PatientConnect Video can also help you drive more appointments by displaying your brand’s ads on healthgrades.com—America’s #1 platform for facilitating better patient-doctor connections. Most pharma video ads end with a call to action for patients to talk to their doctor, and with Healthgrades video solutions, we actually provide the tools for patients to take action with embedded appointment scheduling links.

With a potential recession looming, now is the time to make your dollars work harder. Healthgrades has decades of experience working with pharmaceutical brands, closely measuring performance and maximizing the impact of their marketing strategies. In a recent case study involving a large pharmaceutical client, we not only surpassed the client’s projected qualified patient reach but also became the top performer in the cost-per-qualified audience (CPQA) for almost every measurement tactic. 

Develop a Resilient Pharma Marketing Strategy with Healthgrades

Half of all Americans who see a doctor this year will visit Healthgrades, so we know how to help your brand thrive with data-driven solutions that bring results.1 Our services maximize the efficiency of your media spend, drive more profitable volume, and work with you to achieve efficient scale. Get in touch today to learn more about how factoring Healthgrades into your existing budget can help your brand stay resilient during any financial crisis.

1 ComScore March 2022, site study 2017, Census 2020, CDC 2020