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2021 in Pharma: What We Have Learned and Where We Have Won

pharma trends 2021

Are you still processing 2020? Well, here is the news, 2022 is almost here. And while you are thinking about how it could happen; we can only assume that the last year was so intensive and eventful that no wonder it passed before we knew it.  

It may seem a bit chaotic at least because it frustrates the hopes of all humanity associated with an early end of the pandemic. But in fairness, we must give the credit to 2021 as the one that brought us one step closer to defeating covid and many other diseases. With ongoing digital transformation and the success of mRNA vaccines, we literally can observe how modern technologies shape the healthcare system of the future. 

As for pharma marketing, we made a huge step forward to deliver personalized experiences to customers with the widespread of a modular approach and current innovations in omnichannel marketing.  

Wrapping up this year, let’s look closer at the achievement, hopes, and fears we have for the year we step in and arm ourselves with the most recent data on the hottest topics of 2021:    

Searching for a balance between digital and virtual promotion

Stepping into 2021, our biggest hope was to draw a line under the period of the coronavirus. The emergency vaccine invention suggested a chance to overcome the pandemic in record time, but the year started with news on new mutated strains. They rained down like a bolt from the blue and now, when the omicron has entered the scene, we realize that the covid period is now an era.

What does it mean for pharma?

In terms of communication, it prolonged the prevalence of digital communication, making pharma look closer to the mixed communication where face-to-face now is just one channel. New 2021 Veeva Pulse Report demonstrates stability in HCPs’ preferences towards digital with the sixfold growth of virtual meetings.

At the same time, it poses the challenge for pharma that now is looking for a balance between offline and digital promotion.

Resilience to changes

Can we say that pharma’s digital moment has arrived? The digital transformation is on every corner, but the biggest challenge remains the resilience to becoming digital and the unevenness of transformation among regions.

This can be explained by the growing complexity of content production and the difficulty of digital tools adoption across regions.

Technology is changing and sometimes much faster than we are. Currently 1/3 of pharma believe they are poorly resourced for digital engagement.

To win this competition, pharma  should ensure that content development process is accelerated to the needed extent. With the introduction of smart content, however, it is easier to keep content creation at scale and navigate the complex digital landscape. The concept assumes content and data to be synchronized and supports supreme enterprise context management (taxonomy, claims, business rules, and tags).

It is the whole new approach to content management with more features designed specifically to support rapid content development.


The word of the year in pharma would likely be personalizationNow all the habits that we, as patients and customers, have acquired in 2020 have finally taken root. And pharma is rushing to introduce something extra to the customers as the main ingredient to win this competition.

According to Smart Insights, 72% of consumers say they now only interact with marketing messages that are personalized and tailored to their interests.

The number of channels has increased giving us additional opportunities to engage customers. However, we must admit that currently we use it blindly, bombarding HCPs with thousands of emails and other messages. To reach customers with the right message, it must be perfectly tailored to their needs. Only then, we can call it personalization.

Where pharma won in 2021

Omnichannel to mix it up wisely

A digital shift has turned healthcare to reach new heights in omnichannel. After two years, this approach has established its position as a key provider of flexible communication for generation covid who, above all, appreciate empathy, accuracy, and flexibility when it comes to interaction with a healthcare provider.

In pharma, omnichannel covered the exposed gaps that were not that obvious before the pandemic. It turned out that besides being one the most expensive channel, according to data on Viseven’s projects, face-to-face visits cannot cover up to 80% of the database. It is especially painful for regions with a stable issue of low audience coverage. Thus, in 2021 pharma chooses to digitize and further actively spends an impressive part of its budget on digital tactics.

However, not everything can be achieved by focusing only on digital activities. With HCPs who are still divided into tribes of digital natives and those who prefer in-person communication, face-to-face meetings do not get pale and remain especially important when it comes to product launches.

Recovering from a pandemic, it is hard to predict where the channel mix will go further. However, in 2022 only 10% of pharma plan a big increase in budget allocations on-field force activities.

And if recently the demand for a mix of virtual and hybrid interaction among HCPs was 85%. Now, this figure has grown to 87%.

Top communication channels in 2021

A large number of omnichannel projects we were lucky to have this year allows us to share our internal observations regarding customer preferences and the channel that interest them the most. The email has confirmed its championship with 3x more demand among our pharma customers compared to the previous year. The second most relevant channel was SMS.

And especially remarkable this year was for messengers that were in high demand among our customers. At their request, eWizard received a new feature, namely the support of messenger ad content creation for WeChat messenger.

For us, these numbers and demands are just a confirmation of the industry’s ambition to move further towards digital and omnichannel excellence.

Smart investment into digital

The variety of channels, systems, and connections between them captures the imagination at first but later it creates some difficulties as the multiple means of communication make it difficult to track the performance of each activity in the campaign, leaving you in the dark about what you invest in and what you get in the end.

Viseven’s experts in omnichannel suggest that pharma can easily drive efficient campaigning with a clear connection of how it influences HCPs’ loyalty and can measure and define the activities that spurge the decision of a particular client.

The rise of modular content

The widespread modular content has made the trend of personalization sound much louder. 

Over the years, content production in the pharmaceutical industry was considered a time-consuming process associated with many bottlenecks.

The modular approach that was previously practiced exclusively by trailblazers is now entering the pharma mainstream.

According to researchers, 54% of pharma use modular content, and a further 40% plan to start. These impressive numbers can be proved by the number of requests Viseven received this year.

When we speak of our expertise in modular content, we mean a flexible and reusable digital asset living in the form of modular units that can be father used in various channel-specific templates, channels, and contexts. Modular approach of Viseven eliminates the need for affiliates to create content from scratch, but instead, successfully reuse (localize) global content and reap up to 65% of content development costs. The feature of auto-translation, in its turn, allows to translate only the needed assets that will by further reused.

The use of pre-approved content modules can significantly accelerate content production, time to market and ensure rapid MLR approvals.

But most importantly, it gives a green light to simplified content production that, in its turn, forces personalization and more creative work with content.

Many of our great achievements in 2021 were marked by modular. Auto-tagging has become a feature the year with the ability to synchronize content and data (taxonomy, claims, business rules, and tags) within our Content Experience Platform. eWizard now embodies even more opportunities to sew various experiences together and create a unified, automated, and scalable content development standard for our pharma customers.

This can be proved by Viseven’s experience on successful modular implementation in several leading pharmaceutical companies.

Follow our updates to be among the first to reveal the details of these success cases.

Establishing a secure hierarchy

Today balancing between customers’ expectations and data security is the challenge for all who are actively digitizing. Digital technologies empower us to deliver more personalized content, tailored messages and cover the expectations of the target audience. At the same time, unfortunately, it rises data security and access management concerns. These are having a long history in life sciences.

The tangled mess of countless laws and regulations don’t make it easier for pharma, posing the great challenge not to lose the customer’s trust, pursuing personalized experiences. 95% of customers say they are more likely to be loyal to a company they trust.

Of the greatest features of meta-tags, except making it easier to find the information in the DAM is to provide accesses hierarchy, where each user role includes a certain level of access to certain information.

Working with pharmaceutical content implies certain requirements and measures to be followed. The International Standards Organization (ISO) guarantees that the company works according to all required procedures, policies, and guidelines, protects, and has full authority over the Company’s assets.

To confirm our determination to protect our customers’ data, Viseven has passed the supervisory audit ISO 27001 and regularly confirms its status and the ability to provide a secure environment for the pharma customers.

Partnerships to save the day

Partnerships has taken a new sense in pharma over the last year. Collaborative approaches and cross-enterprise collaboration are exactly what helped pharma to pass a rough test it has been put on. If you were reading comics, you know that even the coolest of superheroes cannot cope without trusting a partner on their side. The same goes for our partnership with Veeva aligned with greater achievement catalyzing our powers in aspiration to make healthcare invincible.

Digital Factory Accelerator Program (DFAP) is designed and launched by Veeva initiative to provide additional support to narrow circle of Veeva’s customers that are building large-scale Digital Content Factories in place and using Veeva services.

We are pleased to announce that Viseven Group is now among the first Veeva’s DFAP Partners.

Parting thoughts

2021 was the consolidation of our habits as HCPs and patients and the ways we are consuming services. Agile and flexible communication is what pharma customers are striving for today. The current innovations in omnichannel marketing open up new horizons to meet customers’ needs and offer timely, sequential digital interactions in an appropriate format.

The only MUST is the flexible content that will boost a content supply chain and will make it circulate through the omnichannel system.

These two absolute prerequisites of today’s HCP engagement can fully be covered, regardless of your current level of digital maturity.

Turn to us for assistance and help – Viseven’s mission is to enable digital transformation for businesses of all sizes and digital maturities.

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