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A Guide to Pharma Market Segmentation


With the growing digitalization of pharma, came the enlargement of the industry’s reach. So, the effectiveness of messages sent by brands became reliant on a specific practice which is market segmentation. 

The pharmaceutical industry is ever-evolving. So are consumers’ content consumption habits and engagement preferences with brands. Therefore, it is important to have the necessary tools and processes to ensure the success of all your marketing and communication efforts. 

With that in mind, this article will guide you through pharma market segmentation and the principles behind it.

A guide to pharma market segmentation

A definition

Market segmentation is a practice that divides a target market into groups of different approachability. This promotes the creation of subcategories of a market of interest. Some examples come off as, for example, demographics, demand, and interests. 

“Different people respond differently to various components of marketing and to different channels,” – Patient Bond, Brent Walker 

Market segmentation helps to direct all marketing efforts into narrower groups of people. It consists of the establishment of effective messages and links of communication

What about pharma?

Marketing segmentation is a growing concern within the pharmaceutical industry and marketing teams. 

With the Internet came the openness of consumers to a wider and more varied consumption market. This has affected brand loyalty tendencies. 

In other words, it’s harder for companies to continue using traditional marketing practices to allure people to their brand. The conjecture is different, and so should be the approach. 

This is an industry that relies on the known “rule of 7” that guides interaction with the different stakeholders. For example, HCP, tend to engage with sales reps from around 6 to 8 visits before securing a business deal.  

However, this is a tactic that is becoming obsolete and inefficient in the present day. After all, virtual is taking over face-to-face communication. 

So, the field is in an ongoing transformation. First with the digital shift and then with COVID and the post-pandemic era. 

Pharma companies want to ensure that they cover all fronts. So they target them with effective messages and communication that is relevant and valuable. For that to happen, these organizations ought to adopt market segmentation practices that allow them to split their audience into groups of interest. 

Different types of market segmentation

Within market segmentation, there are different types and approaches that one might follow considering its particular needs. So, it is important to know what they are and which one is the best fit for the communication strategy you have in mind. 

Some of the different types of market segmentation you can put in place are: 

  • Demographic segmentation (B2C)
    Proceeds with an evaluation and categorization based on a person’s age, gender, education level, income level, and more. It is a simpler approach to market segmentation that is particularly valuable for B2C businesses.  
  • Geographic segmentation (B2B/ B2C)
    This type of segmentation can be a part of the demographic approach. Nonetheless, it can be a type on its own. It focuses, then, on geographic location as a way to split the audience into groups of interest. You further assess a customer’s interests, preferences, and needs depending on their location. 
  • Psychographic segmentation (B2B/ B2C)
    Supported on a classification based on a person’s attitudes, behaviors, and values. One can then split groups according to, for instance, lifestyle, traits, opinions, and more. This approach adapts to both B2B and B2C organizations. 
  • Behavioral segmentation (B2B/ B2C) 
    This is an approach directed at those that want to target customers based on their purchase behaviors. For that, people are categorized according to their product usage habits, usage rates, and more. This way of addressing segmentation applies to both B2B and B2C companies.
  • Firmographic segmentation (B2B)
    This is an approach particularly beneficial to B2B businesses. It classifies companies based on their attributes. Perse, industry, location, number of employees, and revenue.

Where to start

Now, market segmentation might appear difficult at first. And you might wonder, ‘Where should I start?’. It can be complex, but this practice will only benefit your company and marketing strategy. So, we are here to help you take the first step. 

Before diving into the complexity of what is pharma marketing, we have some advice. Begin with 5 simple steps that will help you start the segmentation process of your audience. And these are:

1 – Define your market 

The first step in your market segmentation journey is to define your market. To do that, you ought to consider the demand for your products or services, the size of the market, and your brand’s current positioning.

2 – Then, segment it

To do it, you need to choose which type of segmentation fits your needs. We mean the demographic, geographic, behavioral, firmographic, and psychographic topics. 

Remember that you can use a combination of more than one. Like so, you can segment your market into the right groups of interest.

3 – Strive to know and understand your market

Once you segment your market, it is time to understand it. Analytics and research play a big part in this stage of the process. Some of the tools and practices that you might adopt are conducting surveys and polls to get user feedback, as well as focus groups.

4 – Create customer segments

From there, you can segment your customers into specific groups. This will allow you to refine your communication strategy. 

Next, analyze the data collected from your research. From there identify which groups are the most relevant to your product and/ or service.

5 – Test

Now it is time to put your strategy to test. To understand its effectiveness, it is recommendable to use a conversion tracking tool. It will give insight into the impact of your marketing segmentation efforts.

Yet, your journey in pharma market segmentation won’t stop here. It should become an integral part of your marketing strategy and a recurrent process. 

Circumstances change and new audiences arise. Therefore, it’s important to be up to date with the latest trends in the field. This is to ensure that your communication strategy never misses the potential of certain groups. 

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