Digital pharmaceutical marketing is gaining traction among Indian players and the sector is seeing increased spends on digital tools and technologies.The entire pharma digital marketing space has become exciting, especially after the COVID-19 outbreak.
One-third of the companies in the pharmaceutical domain will be spending 50% of the marketing budgets on digital channels by 2022. Overall, a forecast suggests the industry to be spending $4.5 billion on digital transformation by 2030.
Looking at the current market dynamics, digital marketing players in the pharmaceutical space can play a pivotal role in bringing down the cost of healthcare, says Dr Harshit Jain, MD, Founder and Global CEO, Doceree and shares insights on the scenario about adoption of digital marketing in pharmaceutical space in an exclusive interview with the Financial Express online. Doceree is a global network of physician-only platforms for programmatic marketing. It has expanded to three geographies in less than 18 months of launch. Excerpts:
Can you briefly explain about your startup idea and a gist about it.
The pandemic changed the way pharmaceutical industry functioned. Being highly dependent on sales representatives and offline events, everything got cancelled until pharma could do anything. Around that time only, we had launched our platform. Pharma had always been a laggard in digital adoption, while on the contrary consumer marketing evolved remarkably by adopting digital technologies.
Doceree is the first global platform in the programmatic physician marketing space to integrate physician-only digital platforms across the globe and enable pharma brands to precision target healthcare experts. Our core product is an advertising exchange through which we help pharmaceutical brands communicate to physicians on mediums, such as medical journals, telehealth platforms, electronic health records (EHR), etc., where they are already thinking about patients and researching about different therapies – very contextual media. This was non-existent before, and that’s the gap we are plugging.
At the time of the Covid-19 outbreak, pharma marketers were looking to engage with physicians on digital. They were looking for a solution and our platform was right there. That’s why adoption of our platform got accelerated significantly. We are able to break even in any market in 12 to 15 months.
Which all markets the business has had a breakeven? Who are the other players in the space?
In our first launch market in India, we have been able to breakeven in 12 months, and our second launch market, which is the US, is also on the verge of breakeven in a few months from now. This is unheard of, especially in a start-up world. We are the only programmatic messaging platform focused on healthcare professionals which is global in nature. So, we have a first mover advantage there. As such in this space given what we do, there is no competition. At least till now.
How many physicians and pharma companies are connected with you at this point in time?
Through our network, we reach almost 4 lakh physicians in India and are working with more than 30 pharma companies in India, and a lot more in the US and Europe. There are a lot of brands across specialty that we work with currently which is only promoted through the Doceree network. There are no sales representatives, and no other promotions, and those brands are growing at a fast pace. Pharma was the only category which didn’t adopt digital as much. That’s what we believe we are helping them do now.
The company has raised two rounds of funding. What was your experience in terms of infusing this kind of funding and what is your plans for further investments and attracting more capital in the near future?
We have avoided raising a lot of funds. We didn’t want to dilute too much, too soon. No funds are required to create or to establish the concept, so we got our funds in the initial stages from angel investors, who believed in the idea. To be specific – the angel investors are from the pharmaceutical, advertising, and technology industry, who understand the problem. Having said that, we are now in the process of raising a series A investment and we will complete it in next three months.
Pharma marketing is a very capital intensive. How you plan to address this challenge of bringing down the cost of pharma marketing. How far has it will bring down the overall pharma marketing cost?
Pharma industry invests almost 25% of their total revenues on marketing. 5% of total revenues on marketing is invested every year only on sales and marketing which is a very high number. We have developed models through which we believe in the next three years, we will be able to bring the cost of marketing down from 25% to about 18% by bringing in efficiencies and effectiveness. That will eventually bring the cost of healthcare down.
How about the expansion plans?
We have a huge product pipeline ahead of us. After expansion to the UK and five European countries, we are looking to expand in all the European nations. We plan to expand to Japan by next year.
What’s your perspective on digital healthcare?
Digital, digital healthcare and technology, I would say these are the three key areas which are growing at the most rapid pace, where we see maximum investments happening. We feel we are at the cusp of all the three and trying to bring a positive change in the world.