Has pharma reached the “trough of disillusionment” for digital/cross-channel marketing in 2013?

Across Health has released its Digital Barometer survey among life science companies in Europe, US and emerging markets. With almost 300 respondents from over 100 companies, this report provides a 360° view on the as-is, challenges, and future of digital in life sciences.

Online PR News – 03-August-2013 – Gent, Belgium – For the fifth year now, Across Health conducted its unique and widely-recognized digital landscape survey among life science companies in Europe, US and emerging markets. The study is the most comprehensive of its kind, with almost 300 respondents from over 100 companies, and gives a 360° view on the as-is, challenges, and future of digital in life sciences.

Fonny Schenck, CEO of Across Health, explains: “With satisfaction levels low and even declining, senior management support falling and ROI & internal capability concerns rising quickly, it is no surprise that digital budgets are flat or even decreasing in 42% of our respondents. Looking at the results holistically, I believe we have entered what Gartner calls the “trough of disillusionment” in their hype cycle terminology, which is the next stage after “inflated expectations”.

Indeed, the percentage of executives satisfied with their digital activities has decreased to 16%, the first drop since 2010. In addition, digital budgets are being capped. Although they increased to 16% of marketing budgets in 2013, the growth rate has dropped to single-digit levels for the first time in 3 years - and half still have digital marketing budgets under 10% of overall marketing budgets. In other industries, the average of digital is well above 20%.

The top barriers to making digital successful continue to be the same, with regulatory/legal concerns, lack of strategy, ROI concerns & lack of internal skills making up the 4 key hurdles....and the latter two see significant growth.
Looking at the channel mix evolution, the overall picture continues to evolve, but the focus is still on websites, although marketers increasingly question the impact of many of these. Tablet detailing keeps on gaining ground quickly, with 65% of respondents now implementing this tactic, up from 46% last year and just 17% in 2010.

Still in the rep-enablement space, the strong growth of erep/remote detailing is noteworthy, particularly in Europe. In terms of pilots, cross-channel marketing, mobile and social score very high, with over 40% piloting these tactics.

Is it all gloom & doom? Fortunately not! The outlook is indeed promising: cross-channel marketing, mobile and strategy development are key priorities for most, and companies are committed to making tablet detailing a success by moving to more sophisticated closed-loop marketing approaches. And customer-centric approaches and customer intellligence are slowly but surely gaining ground too.

Fonny Schenck: “If the learnings are implemented rigorously across organizations, the next stages of the Gartner hype cycle are within reach, viz. the “slope of enlightenment”, followed by the “plateau of productivity”. It is clear that in 2013, companies are not abandoning digital – they simply cannot - but rather are becoming more realistic and trying to integrate digital much more tightly in the overall mix – “beyond the website”. Getting the right cross-channel team in place, defining the right KPIs, allocating relevant budgets to digital and ensuring buy-in and expertise with the customer-facing teams will be key drivers to help pharma companies move firmly towards the New Normal...

The Digital Barometer is based on an online survey with 297 life sciences executives between February and April 2013. Most of the responses come from the pharmaceutical industry (91%). Respondents typically have a position in marketing (39%) or eBusiness (27%) and operate in Europe (69%), North America (10%) or Latin America (9%). The full report can be read and/or downloaded via SlideShare at http://bit.ly/AH_DB2013.

With a focus on “fusion marketing”, Across Health is the strategic partner of many high-profile life sciences companies in Europe, the US and key emerging markets. Together with our 60+ consultants, we aim to be the partner of choice for innovative life sciences companies around the world who want to create a sustainable competitive advantage in The New Normal: from customer-centric 'fusion' insight and cross-channel strategy to integrated execution and impact.

To find out more, please visit www.a-cross.com/health.

For more details on the Digital Barometer 2013 or on the service offerings of Across Health, please contact Boris Chu, Senior Consultant at Across Health, at boris.chu@a-cross.com or contact the Managing Director of the Across Health office nearest to you.

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