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Is pharma ready for the new normal?

Once, it was easy to define a customer. It was ‘someone you sell to’.


21 August 2020

By: Cognite

Once, it was easy to define a customer. It was ‘someone you sell to’. Nowadays, it’s more likely to be ‘someone whose needs you meet’ with those needs being a lot wider than the ones satisfied by your product. Of course, this change has been coming for some time but post-Covid it will be here in earnest!

This is because for many, if not, most markets and therapy areas the virtual world is set to continue. The old world of face-to-face has been disrupted. Now if customers agree to see you it will be because you’ve reached them successfully by other means. Even then, your appointment is quite likely to be online. 

 The important point about this is that engagement will only happen if customers think you can meet their needs. So how well does pharma understand the needs of HCPs and patients? According to recent global surveys carried out by Accenture, not that well. Nearly half of CEOs surveyed said they lacked a good understanding of their customers’ needs or wants1, whilst more than half of HCPs thought that reps were failing to understand the real impact of Covid-19 on them2. Research on patients’ views of how pharma understood their needs were equally concerning.3

One possible and much publicised answer to this is to make more and better use of data. However, according to the above research, over half of pharma’s marketing leads have more access to data but struggle to make better decisions1. Also, more than half said their organisations are not ready for AI1

We hear much about customer-centric decision making, yet for many this new approach to marketing seems to require a lot more work. Despite this, the new normal is already here for pharma’s customers and getting to grips with their needs has to be the new normal for success for pharma too!


  1. Biopharma marketing – Harnessing change for growth: Accenture Life Sciences, December 9th, 2019.
  2. Is Covid-19 altering how pharma engages with HCPs? Accenture Life Sciences, August 4th, 2020.
  3. Uniting pharma companies and patient organisations: Accenture Patient Services, August 7th, 2019.
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