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Understanding the Life Sciences Consumer: Insights and Strategies for Effective Marketing

Leverage data to enable precise targeting through the right channels

Key Takeaways:

  • The key to effective direct-to-consumer marketing campaigns is data that enables precise targeting.
  • It has its challenges, but by increasing your advertising by 10%, you can increase purchases by 5%.
  • Consumers see about nine pharma ads daily, and the number of ads has increased 62% since 2012.
  • While some platforms don’t allow it, social media can be a great channel for cost-effective advertising.

Marketing pharmaceutical companies to consumers means employing strategies and crafting messages that resonate with your target audience. Demographics can help, but taking a deep dive into motivation and behavior is what really leads to understanding the life science consumer. For example, the factors that move geriatric patients toward simvastatin for cholesterol are not the same motivators that make Gen Z consider isotretinoin for acne.

These behavioral and motivational differences can have a profound impact on your direct-to-consumer marketing. A successful campaign empowers patients and compels them to act. Encouraging consumers to participate in their health journey improves outcomes and boosts revenue but requires pulling the right levers. Does that mean marketing should include a TV campaign? Digital channels? Direct mail? There’s a lot to consider, but no matter the medium, your marketing has to reach your target audience and spur them to action.

This article offers insights into the behavior and preferences of life sciences consumers and some marketing tips and techniques for navigating an increasingly complicated consumer landscape. It also discusses the evolving role of marketing, emphasizing the importance of going beyond mere data collection to include the understanding of how to use data to gain actionable insights.

Reaching your patient population is complex, and drug and device marketing brands must build relationships with their consumers to drive growth. Now is the time to prepare for a surge in healthcare spending, which is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 10.4% through 2027. 

Understand the behavior of life sciences consumers

Fundamentally, it’s the task of marketing to help a consumer understand that your product is relevant for them. Your creative matters, but it’s reliable data and a personalized omnichannel strategy that will help you reach your audience at the right frequency with the right message and through the proper channels. In addition to assistance from an experienced, data-driven media agency, you need the right data provider.

Your media must be focused on your audience. Your target list needs to be informed by data from a media partner that pulls together information from multiple sources to identify a potential consumer. The partner then applies this understanding to strategic media buys. 

For example, a complex message is hard to relay with banner advertising alone. It may take video – whether streaming or broadcast – to reach the patient or care-seeker. The goal is for the consumer to immediately reach out to their physician to talk about your product. For other audiences, social media outreach can prove effective.

Whether you have a narrow funnel of 10,000 people or a product with many potential patients, a successful campaign can engage them if you use the right channels. Analytics are at the heart of building campaign strategies that give you the reach you need. Perhaps the best place for your ad is on the screens in doctors’ waiting rooms. In this instance, your TV asset becomes more economical and much more targeted because it is being delivered at the point of care. 

Remember, even with precise targeting, data suggests you will likely only reach about 5% of your audience. But done economically at scale, you can drive enough prescriptions to generate a positive ROI from your marketing efforts.

What motivates life science consumers

Other than wanting the best treatment available for their condition, patients are mainly motivated by cost. The huge generic drug market evidences this. Overcoming this obstacle takes some extra effort and creative, advanced solutions to gain consumer interest.

For example, consider a partnership with GoodRx, which not only offers price comparisons but also cost-saving coupons that can be submitted at pharmacies. In addition to providing cost savings for consumers, the care-seeker knows that your pharmaceutical company has paid down their copay, creating goodwill and reinforcing a positive brand reputation. 

In a John Hopkins study it also has been found that ads that state both major and minor side effects make consumers think side effects aren’t significant, which leads them to prefer the advertised drug and pay more for it. The same August 2023 study found that every incremental increase in ad spending is linked to sales growth.

How to market to life sciences consumers

It is through strategic planning, data analytics, and targeting that you drastically improve your ability to  reach both your audience and your ROI goals. Research has found that:

  • By increasing prescription drug advertising by 10%, you can increase purchases by 5% and the all-important adherence rate by as much as 2%.
  • Due to prescription drug advertising in the U.S., 27% of patients made an appointment with their doctor to discuss a condition they hadn’t previously mentioned after seeing prescription drug advertising.
  • Since 2012, the yearly number of prescription drug ads on TV has increased by 62%.
  • Americans see an average of nine drug advertisements daily.

These are impactful statistics, but healthcare marketing executives should pay special attention to the last two. How to break through the noise? Again, the answer is precise targeting through the use of data.

Social media

Marketing pharma through social media, including the use of influencers, is on the rise, although LinkedIn, Pinterest, and TikTok don’t allow these ads. However, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube can be used to connect with consumers. Be aware, however, that regardless of the media, the FDA has established some definitive guidelines for these channels.  

Even where ads are not allowed, you can create awareness of your new treatment, provide health tips, and answer questions. In addition to being cost-efficient, social media outreach creates goodwill and engenders trust over time. 

Final thoughts

While the life sciences face regulatory and market penetration challenges, statistics and experience showcase that with the correct data, pharmaceutical companies can understand and effectively service the needs and wants of consumers. An omnichannel, personalized strategy is most likely to deliver the best ROI. A good partner can dig into the data, figure out what makes sense for your brand economically and otherwise, and help you deploy your marketing so that it is effective for both your audience and your bottom line.

Whether you recently launched a new product, are approaching launch, or want to grow your product line, sourcing, analyzing, and optimizing big data is a critical component of achieving a good ROI with your direct-to-consumer marketing.

At Underscore Marketing, our business is leveraging data-driven media solutions that connect pharmaceutical and life science companies with targeted audiences. Our services encompass strategic media planning, data analytics, and comprehensive measurement, making us a trusted ally in achieving success.

Our research skills and audience insights have a proven track record, and we have the people and the industry-leading technology tools to achieve your strategic imperatives. Reach out today, and let’s get started. Fill out our contact form or send us an email at

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