Influencer marketing is quickly consuming digital marketing – now comprising between 10-30% of consumer product marketing budgets. Even though they’re a little late, it just makes sense that pharmaceutical companies are entering the marketing channel. The data is almost too good to believe: market expansion opportunities for specialty drugs among younger consumers will pull them out of this slump.

But there’s one key reason influencers make more sense for Pharma than any other industry.

Really? Prescription drug spending has gone down?

Pharmas are scrambling to recover the strong growth seen in the past 20 years of prescription drugs. This may come as a surprise since spending on hospitals and doctors has continued to rise and… let’s be real: no one’s healthcare costs are going down. And yet it’s true; the decrease is mostly attributed to generic costs, which have plunged in the past few years. And because once costs have come down they rarely go up, expect to see more emphasis on specialty drugs for the foreseeable future.

Growing reliance on pricey specialty drugs

Out of pocket costs for specialty drugs can be life-altering for patients, which is why co-pay coupons are frequently available. But a lot of potential patients do a quick search for the proposed specialty drug and see one big red button: it’s ridiculously expensive and there’s no generic option. 

But what happens when someone they respect on Instagram mentions the drug and links to a coupon to help with the cost? Almost magically, the emotional rejection of the drug for cost reasons evaporates. Influencer marketing does best with a compelling call to action (“CTA”) and saving 50-75% on a critical prescription is captivating.

Influencers have the eyeballs Pharma needs to expand

It’s old news that Instagram is the influencer platform of choice. But most people on Instagram are young, right? Millennials, GenZ? It is true that the bulk of Instagram’s audience is under 40, with the heaviest concentration at 25-34 years old closely followed by 18-24 years old.

The data behind pharma targeting younger consumers is enticing. Millennial parents have and spend more disposable income than ever before. And a huge 67% of women and 40% of men 18-34 take prescription drugs. This is a gigantic chunk of market that is just now being targeted by pharma as they learn how to work through the FDA and FTC regulations.

But there’s another, even more compelling reason pharma is leveraging influencers. Trust.

Engaged Influencers Offer Trust

Most multi-channel campaigns we work with “prime the pump” with influencers. This makes a ton of sense because, along the consumer’s buying journey, establishing trust is the best first step. When you’re buying something big, like a car, you’ll search for as many expert reviews as possible. Prescription drugs don’t cost as much as most new cars, but the stakes are as high or higher. You’re actually putting this product in, or on, your body. The stakes are sky high.

No one marketing channel is more effective for establishing trust than (good) influencers. Of course you have to do all the data groundwork to ensure their audience is addressable for the drug and that the influencers haven’t bought followers or likes.

Trust is the No. 1 critical ingredient influencers bring to an industry who desperately needs it given its overall poor public perception, especially with a younger, more cynical audience.

Bringing It All Together…

At Mattr, our advice is to find influencers who not only meet the usual criteria of audience alignment and credibility, but also that they are unusually engaged with their audience in comments. This requirement winnows your field of possible influencers substantially but surfaces the respect and trust the influencer garners from their audience that’s so critical for a pharma campaign.

It’s no wonder Pharma is leveraging influencers: they need to expand their target market to younger consumers whose eyes and trust reside on Instagram.

If you have further questions, reach out! We have plenty of answers and a particular set of skills when it comes to running pharma campaigns.

About MATTR: MATTR, leaders in influencer campaigns for highly regulated industries, is the only full-service influencer marketing provider with detailed audience insights from PersonaMesh™. We go beyond demographics into psychographics such as values and interests so that your influencer campaigns align with your campaign targets.