With the launch of Flipkart Health+, global conglomerate like Tata acquiring 1MG, Reliance taking on Netmeds, and PharmEasy buying 66% stake in Thyrocare, one can trust that the space holds a promising future.
With most of these big movements taking place in the time-span of the past two years, it also points to Covid-19, in a way, fuelling the growth of e-pharmacy as a category.
According to a report published by KPMG, the global e-Pharmacy market was valued at $ 0.8 billion in 2020, out of which prescription drugs occupied 68% revenue share and over the counter (OTC) Drugs occupied 32% revenue share.
Whereas the Indian E-Pharmacy market was operating with 50 e-pharmacies and accounted for 14% share of the total revenue of e-Pharmacies in the Asia Pacific Region in 2020.
BestMediaInfo.com spoke to some of the leading brands and industry experts to understand what kind of advertising and marketing strategies work for some of the big brands in the e-pharmacy category.
Praful Akali, Founder, Digital Creative Head, Medulla Communications, said that while the pockets of these big players are very deep, one can expect more investment coming into the category in the future.
To which, Ashish Bajaj, CMO, Medibuddy, added, “E-healthcare has grown multi-fold in the last few years and that’s because acceptance of e-healthcare is increasing among the consumers. During the pandemic, e-healthcare was the best possible answer to all the questions of the consumers around healthcare. And with technology acting as the enabler, it evolved beautifully for the people.”
The A&M of e-pharmacy
From the captivating PharmEasy TVC with a catchy jingle, to their association with ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ and from MediBuddy’s association with celebrities to Flipkart’s iconic kids’ advertisements for Flipkart Health+, the e-pharmacy brands have definitely made a good impact with their advertising and marketing initiatives.
Pharmeasy’s ‘Kharchanatyam’ ads highlighted the discounts being offered on the e-pharmacy app along with the convenience it offered for the public.
MediBuddy’s ad featured Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachchan who is seen advising people to seek doctor’s help online.
The Flipkart Health+ also launched an ad which has kids playing the role of a doctor, medical staff and a patient. In this ad, the medical staff advises the patient to purchase medicines only through the newly launched app as it offers a large amount of discount.
Elaborating on the holistic approach brands take for their advertising and marketing, Medulla Communications’ Akali mentioned two things – discounting and high value consumers.
He said, “Lots of players believe in discounting alone for their communication. It is best communicated through digital campaigns. Discounting is a great play and it is something that you can say is the dearth of imagination. But I believe that one of the success factors is building brand love. Another thing is the high-value consumer, which is going to be a big game changer here. These consumers have a bill that is 10x of what you and I have of the entire year. And how do brands connect with them matters a lot. That is something that isn’t coming out in the communications. In this space, 1MG is doing great work by building services and targeting these consumers.”
Whereas, Bajaj said, “From the advertising point of view, the outlook for any healthcare related brand is always to have the trust of the consumers. For that, we’ve signed up Amitabh Bachchan as he’s a legend to Bollywood and with this, we’re trying to establish MediBuddy as the legend or the leader in the digital healthcare space.”
Bajaj further spoke about how they are leveraging content creation as part of their advertising and marketing. “We’re also solving a lot of consumer’s problems by providing them with the right information. That also becomes part of our advertising strategy, which curtails into forming the right kind of content for us,” he added.
Dhruvish Thakkar, Senior Director, Head of Marketing and Revenue - Flipkart Health+, said, "Research suggests that consumers face difficulties in procuring authentic medicines for chronic diseases in emerging markets across the country. With Flipkart Health+, consumers can avail high-quality affordable products across 20,000 pin codes. Our campaign is focused on delivering this message in the unique style of humour inspired from our homegrown brand - Flipkart. Flipkart’s kidults format has been very popular with the audience, and we felt it was the best way to bring out our message too through this campaign.”
What is fuelling the growth of e-pharma brands?
The end-to-end service offering is what the industry experts counted on for the growth of e-pharma brands. Along with e-commerce, lab tests, online consultations are what a consumer looks for while visiting any service provider.
Apart from that, increased digital penetration and increasing consumer awareness along with the pandemic, are some of the major factors that have given e-pharmacy brands a major push.
MediBuddy’s Bajaj claims they reach out to 35 thousand patients every day, he also mentioned that people from metros who have moved to their native towns use the healthcare services digitally.
He said, “There are cities where there has never been a wallet payment but they did a wallet payment for talking to a doctor. I am talking about cities which are in the heart of Orrisa. Small towns with 10,000 people living there. With WFH, several people who moved from metro cities to their native places fuelled the growth into those markets. As a result, for us our consumer base is split in three parts.”
Vineet Bhagchandani, Managing Partner and CCO, V-ROK Communications Network, spoke about the importance of multi-fold strategy in the e-pharma space. While putting across PharmEasy as an ideal case, he said, “They are targeting both B2B as well as B2C. Not just advertising alone but they’re equally aggressive about their network of doctors. So, after visiting a clinic, a consumer gets a call from PharmEasy in the next 5 or 7 minutes.”