Five Trends That Defined Local Pharma Marketing In 2023


In this article, we reflect on five pharma marketing trends that impacted our clients and their customer insights work this year.

  • The Resurgence of Selling Excellence
  • The Competitive Imperative: Unlocking Success
  • Faster Insights: Faster Decisions
  • The Magic of Context: Better Decisions
  • Winning Hearts and Minds: Effective Messaging in a Competitive World

The Resurgence of Selling Excellence

Along with continued omnichannel investment and capability building, this year we’ve observed a renewed focus on selling excellence. With increased demands on doctors, HCP access challenges, increased competitiveness and headlines asking ‘Is pharma being ‘ghosted’ by HCPs?’, pharma teams need to ensure they are delivering value for HCPs in their sales calls, have good systems in place to measure this, and understand what they need to change in order to do better.

Pharma teams who are ahead of the curve understand that the key to lasting competitive advantage is to deliver more value to customers than their rivals. The following graph - based on 5 years of selling excellence data (2018-2023) from Australian specialists - illustrates what best practice and poor performance look like.

The Competitive Imperative: Unlocking Success

If competitiveness is defined as the ability to deliver better value to customers than competitors, then many of our clients were more focused on competitiveness in 2023 than ever before. Driven often by the launch of new in-class competitors - some with compelling head-to-head data – this year pharma brands had to dig deep to find new and better ways of delivering value, and their value proposition to customers. With many millions of dollars riding on brands’ product marketing and customer engagement strategies, we saw an increased demand for competitive strategy insights from clients wanting to sharpen their competitive edge.

Faster Insights: Faster Decisions

The mantra of - faster, better, cheaper - is not new in pharma marketing or customer insights, but this year we’ve seen an accelerated demand for faster customer insights driven by more competitive market dynamics, uncertain market access and reimbursement environments and the need to be more agile and responsive with marketing messaging and materials.

We've redesigned projects to deliver more frequent read-outs/pulse checks to clients, and with the launch of So What? Live our clients can now access faster insights via real-time access to live survey data, offering a range of client benefits:

  • Real-time dashboard access to live survey data
  • Faster access to interim insights and easy-to-read summary reports
  • Highly sharable
  • More agile marketing informed by immediate customer insights, and ultimately,
  • Greater competitive advantage

The Magic of Context: Better Decisions

Clients often tell us they are swimming in data, yet still missing the contextual customer insights needed to turn challenges into opportunities, for example, understanding how to increase new patient share, optimise time on treatment or protect against switching to competitor products.

Primary market research, including qualitative research can offer a deeper understanding of the "why" and "how" behind the data and is a valuable tool for gaining in-depth insights into customers' attitudes, behaviours, and motivations.  By helping to explain the story behind the numbers, clients can better navigate issues such as competitor launches, declining growth, poor performance in patient sub-groups, undertreatment and other marketing challenges.

Winning Hearts and Minds: Effective Messaging in a Competitive World

Last year we wrote an article on why pharma marketers have their work cut out when it comes to developing sales messages for their brand and what they need to do about it.

Getting the right message and getting the message right has been more important than ever in 2023 as so much brand messaging has become a hygiene factor rather than a point of difference.

In terms of quantity of key selling messages, an analysis of specialty care brands we have worked with since 2018 reveals that two-thirds of brands have 3 or 4 selling messages, yet close to 1 in 3 brands have five or six, arguably too many, even if not all are directed at each customer.

And as the below graph shows, having more messages does not mean that more customers will remember your message. So, for brand teams being tempted by five or six KSMs, consider if your objectives would be better met by having fewer.

If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with us today at