Expected to be one of the industries with sustainable growth during the economic downturn, the Vietnamese Pharmaceutical industry has become a potential market for both domestic and international businesses. However, economic and environmental fluctuations have also significantly influenced the trends and healthcare needs of Vietnamese consumers. So, what do foreign businesses need to do to win over consumers in the Pharmaceutical industry in the upcoming period?
This article by GMA provides a comprehensive look at the Pharmaceutical market, encompassing the drivers of its growth, the challenges it encounters, and the opportunities and requirements for prospective investors aiming to venture into this market.
I. Overview of the Pharmaceutical Market 2023
1) Sustainable Growth Amidst Economic Downturn
Amidst the global economic downturn, the Pharmaceutical market is anticipated to continue its robust growth in the coming years. According to forecasts by WHO and Fitch Solution, the pharmaceutical revenue in Vietnam is expected to reach 216.4 trillion VND by 2026.
The primary driving force behind the growth of the Pharmaceutical industry stems from changes in consumer spending patterns. Fitch Solution predicts a substantial increase in average per capita spending on pharmaceuticals, rising from 1.5 million VND in 2021 to 2.1 million VND by 2026. However, this figure remains significantly lower than the global average. Consequently, the Vietnamese Pharmaceutical market still holds substantial growth potential in the foreseeable future.
2) The Diverse Development Of Pharmaceutical Distribution Channels
Consumer demand for preventive and health-supporting products such as vitamins, supplements, and medicines has surged post-pandemic, providing favorable conditions for the expansion of distribution channels beyond hospitals.
a) Store Retailing Channel
Pharmacy outlets and pharmaceutical retail chains constitute the majority with a 70.2% market share for drug retailing outside of hospitals. Notably, the growth of prominent brands like FPT Long Châu, Pharmacity, An Khang, and Dr.Win, has significantly reshaped the landscape of the pharmaceutical retail market.
b) Online Retailing Channel
The trend of purchasing pharmaceuticals online is driving the vigorous growth of e-commerce platforms, websites, and similar avenues. This channel category is gradually expanding in response to user preferences and holds a 29.8% market share for pharmaceutical retailing outside of hospitals.
c) New Drivers Fostering Market Growth
The aging population trend, international investments, and proactive governmental policies constitute the three primary drivers for foreign businesses to expand into the Vietnamese Pharmaceutical market in the coming period. According to the World Bank, the number of people in Vietnam aged 65 and older is projected to grow rapidly (exceeding 15% of the population by 2039), leading to increased demand for healthcare services. Additionally, the income level of Vietnamese citizens is steadily rising, creating conditions for the development of greater demand and expenditure on healthcare.
The Vietnamese government is also implementing various programs to develop the Pharmaceutical industry. One notable example is the ‘Program for the Development of the Pharmaceutical Industry and Domestic Production of Pharmaceuticals and Herbal Medicines by 2030, Vision to 2045,’ as per Decision No. 376/QD-TTg by the Prime Minister. Simultaneously, the government has introduced multiple policies aimed at improving the quality of healthcare services, expanding social health insurance coverage, and more.
II. Changes In Customer Insights In The Pharmaceutical Sector
Economic and societal shifts have notably impacted the characteristics and demands of customers in the pharmaceutical industry. Statistical data from Google has highlighted new consumer trends in health care in Vietnam:
1) Enhancing Health With Natural And Gentle Solutions
Search volumes for keywords like ‘vitamin,’ ‘skin whitening pills,’ ‘effects of vitamins,’ as well as ‘home workouts,’ and ‘benefits of jumping rope,’ have shown significant growth, indicating a high consumer demand for internal health enhancement.
2) Increased Demand For Pharmaceutical Cosmetics
With the trend towards using products derived from natural sources and gentle herbal ingredients, consumers are increasingly favoring Pharmaceutical Cosmetics for skincare needs. This is evident in the development of major Pharmaceutical Cosmetics brands like Bioderma, and La Roche Posay.
3) The Desire For Personalized Experiences
Consumer searches on Google are becoming more specific, targeting individual symptoms, underlying health conditions, or age groups. Brands can reach customers through content marketing strategies that provide personalized, specific, and detailed healthcare knowledge.
4) Proactive Health Monitoring
Consumers tend to use applications and technologies to store and actively monitor health-related information.
5) Focus On Mental Well-Being
Life pressures have led individuals to face psychological challenges. They seek solutions to improve mental well-being, such as meditation, efforts to improve sleep quality, etc. Most of these searches tend to be concentrated on online video platforms like YouTube.
6) Desire For Privacy
Numerous ‘at-home’ searches like ‘checking blood pressure at home,’ ‘weight loss at home,’ ‘treating a cold at home,’ and ‘home remedies for toothache’ demonstrate a consumer need for privacy and confidentiality in health care.
7) Concern For The Health Of Loved Ones
77% of respondents in a Google survey stated that they seek to purchase healthcare products for their families and loved ones. This trend is evident in search queries for keywords like ‘products suitable for the elderly,’ ‘infants,’ etc.
III. Key Marketing Strategies For The Pharmaceutical Sector: Enhancing Brand Visibility & Driving Revenue Growth
1) Establish A Strong Online Presence – Create A Vietnamese Website
Create a specialized website tailored for the Vietnamese market.
Make sure it’s translated into Vietnamese and optimized for local search engines. Incorporate comprehensive product details, a user-friendly interface, and culturally relevant content that appeals to Vietnamese consumers.
Offer distinct calls to action (CTA), such as links for product purchases or newsletter subscriptions
2) Leverage Social Media Platforms
Enhance patient education about health issues by providing valuable information. This helps patients become aware of health concerns and stimulates their treatment needs.
To boost consumer awareness, brands can utilize communication channels such as social media (Facebook, TikTok, YouTube), influencers, and documentary films about the medical condition, and leverage the voice of reputable experts in the field…
Consistently engage with your audience, reply to comments and messages, and utilize social media functionalities such as stories, live videos, and polls to enhance interaction.
3) Offer Online Shopping Choices
Facilitate easy online product purchases for Vietnamese customers. Provide a secure and user-friendly e-commerce platform on your website or collaborate with reputable Vietnamese online marketplaces.
Present various payment methods and ensure a seamless checkout experience.
4) TikTok Marketing – Effective Approach To Gen Z
TikTok is a highly influential social media platform among Millennials and Gen Z. Therefore, Pharmaceutical brands can utilize this communication channel to capture the attention of young customers. Some effective TikTok Marketing strategies for the Pharmaceutical industry include:
- Utilizing TikTok influencers: Brands can collaborate with doctors, and pharmacists to create content related to healthcare, and medical conditions, or enlist celebrities outside the industry for pharmaceutical reviews.
- TikTok Advertising: TikTok offers various paid advertising formats that enable brands to quickly reach customers and increase visibility.
- Organic content: Building a brand’s TikTok channel and creating useful content for target customers, such as health care tips and tricks, explanations about medical conditions, clarifications of patient misconceptions, or generating TikTok Challenge activities.
The TikTok strategy of Sai Gon Eye Hospital is one of the successful TikTok Marketing case studies in the Medical industry. The hospital implemented the campaign ‘Liberate Your Eyes, Embrace Sports’ with the TikTok Challenge ‘Glasses Transformation.’ Hundreds of TikTokers participated in the challenge, showcasing their post-sports workout routines to promote healthier eyesight after vision correction.
5) How Does Content Marketing Differ in the Pharmaceutical Industry Compared to Other Industries?
a) Instill Fear & Address Concerns
Present potential health risks to evoke fear in Vietnamese customers, followed by offering pharmaceutical solutions to provide reassurance. This approach adds an element of intrigue to your content, tapping into the emotions of readers and viewers.
However, it’s important not to overuse this type of emotionally driven content, as it can lead to adverse reactions.
b) Utilizing Reliable Data In Pharmaceutical Marketing
Numbers hold more power than you might think, especially in content marketing for the pharmaceutical industry. Incorporate specific statistics into your content to enhance persuasiveness, for instance, “80% of women experienced reduced hair loss after 2 weeks of product use.” Naturally, the data you present should be factual, derived from surveys, or data published by reputable organizations with clear scientific foundations.
Infographics are a highly suitable means of conveying content for Pharmaceutical Marketing. Through infographics, international brands can deliver a wealth of information about products, healthcare practices, and pharmaceutical knowledge in a vivid and easy-to-understand manner.
c) Instilling Hope in Pharmaceutical Marketing
It’s often said, ‘Sell the solution, not the product,’ which means aiding customers in solving issues rather than simply offering a product. The same holds true for the pharmaceutical industry.
Keep in mind that you’re not only selling medication; you’re also selling hope for a healthier future and a happier life. Hope-inspiring content can be based on real-life stories, authentic accounts of the production process, or healing journeys. These are some concepts foreigners should explore to make their content more engaging and emotionally rich.
d) Utilize the Voice of Credible Figures
A compelling message gains even more significance when conveyed by an appropriate individual. Sometimes, speaking as a brand about a product may not be as convincing as borrowing the words of an expert, doctor, pharmacist, or patient.
Hence, when engaging in pharmaceutical content marketing, don’t forget to seek out influential figures within the medical and health field to effectively amplify your brand’s content.
e) Pharmaceutical Marketing Campaign Focused On Emotion & Consumer Hearts
In the face of intensifying competition, as articles and PR pieces about medications, pharmaceuticals, and dietary supplements flood online platforms and media channels, customers and consumers are becoming overwhelmed with information and products. This is especially true for prevalent conditions like chronic gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, or hemorrhoids. In these cases, communication messages emphasizing safety, quality, or healing (rational advertising) often fail to deeply resonate with the majority of patients and customers. Therefore, the current pharmaceutical marketing strategy shifts its focus toward emotions and the hearts of consumers and patients. This approach aims to establish a connection, create resonance, and embed a lasting impression in the minds of customers and patients in Vietnam.
For example, Bio-acimin’s advertisement portrays the journey of three babies as they navigate through the digestive forest, facing challenges that mirror common gastrointestinal issues in children such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. With the participation of these three babies, the advertisement is brought to life through vibrant colors and an animated style, ensuring that the video remains engaging and far from mundane.
Additionally, the delicate integration of language, imagery, or music into communication campaigns will evoke genuine emotions—be it smiles, tears, bursts of joy, or profound moments—experienced by patients, customers, their loved ones, and families.
This approach extends beyond merely conveying a brand’s message or pharmaceutical product; it also carries a message of strong emotions, unwavering determination, resilience, compassion, and empathy. These values touch the hearts and create a powerful presence in the consciousness of customers and patients
4) Telehealth – Online Healthcare Services
After the COVID-19 pandemic, remote healthcare through telehealth is becoming increasingly popular due to its outstanding features, such as:
- Interacting with Vietnamese customers anytime, anywhere, without being limited by space and time.
- Helping brands establish and maintain relationships with patients, building patient trust.
- Saving sales costs and optimizing the customer experience.
- Making customers feel more comfortable sharing health-related issues.
An exemplary case is Evofem’s Telehealth campaign – introducing Phexxi hormone-free contraceptive gel in September 2020. Evofem has created an online consultation platform that allows women to receive assistance and advice from Evofem’s partner doctors.
5) Social Proof – A Tool To Gain Customer Trust
Social proof can be understood as the evaluations and perceptions of the community about a brand. Social proof comes in various forms, including:
- Customer reviews and ratings on specialized review websites, review blogs, forums, etc.
- Real customer testimonials in the form of video or written content.
- Customer interviews.
- Comments, discussions, and interactions from customers on social media platforms and communities.
Social proof serves as a significant pillar of consumer trust. People tend to be more persuaded by product reviews and evaluations rather than advertising messages from brands. Pharmaceutical brands can leverage this social proof in various formats such as Video Storytelling – sharing customer stories, or conducting live-streamed interviews and interactions with customers.
6) Application Of Virtual Reality In Pharmaceutical Marketing
The utilization of virtual reality technology in the pharmaceutical industry enables brands to persuade customers to make decisions more quickly. These technologies allow customers to visualize the effects of medications within the human body through 3D imagery.
Furthermore, virtual reality also assists businesses in explaining medical conditions, treatment protocols, and other information to patients in a visual and easily understandable manner. As a result, virtual reality technology plays a crucial role in optimizing the Vietnamese customer experience and enhancing their trust in the brand.
In general, the Pharmaceutical market in Vietnam is expected to continue its positive growth trajectory in the foreseeable future, driven by robust factors. To seize these opportunities, pharmaceutical businesses need to swiftly grasp emerging marketing trends in order to adapt to evolving consumer behaviors.
Need help to market your pharmaceutical products in Vietnam? Contact us!