7 Challenges Facing Pharmaceutical Packaging Today

Successful health and wellness brands know how to market to physicians — now they need to learn how to market to consumers. Successful health and wellness brands know how to market to physicians — now they need to learn how to market to consumers.
John Lawrence | VP, Global Consulting, SGK

The healthcare landscape is changing. With new levels of transparency, consumers have access to more information than ever. Advancements in healthcare technology allow consumers to actually bring in information to enable real-time conversations with healthcare professionals, sourced from electronic medical records, wearables, or smart devices.

On a global level, there has been a shift to value-based care, from CMS reimbursement for numbers of procedures, to reimbursement for better patient outcomes. Through EMR and EHR mandates, there lies new insight into care data and population health.

WATCH: Why Empathy-Driven Marketing Works in a Changing Healthcare Marketplace


In general, healthcare is moving from a treatment model to a prevention model. However, this is also shifting the cost of care. Providers need to provide better outcomes; otherwise they risk not getting reimbursed.

In turn, we as consumers are being asked to pay more. As a result, consumers have become more careful, and discerning healthcare shoppers. Consumers are responding to this shift by shopping more and embracing new technologies. They are also more selective in choosing care and care providers, while delaying and forgoing care.

“For the eleventh quarter in a row, the U.S. health services industry witnessed over 200 deals.”–PWC LLP Q2 2017 Health Services deal activity report

Successful health and wellness brands know how to market to physicians, appealing to their expertise and their desire to deliver better outcomes for their patients. Now, they need to learn how to market to consumers, appealing to the most fundamental desire of all.

Like other consumer brands, such as CPG, automotive, fashion, and electronics, they need to learn how to create strong emotional bonds and brand identification to last a lifetime by considering:

  • Design
  • Package information
  • Health authority regulations

Below, seven challenges facing the pharmaceutical packaging industry today:

Globalization. The push to globalize, to capitalize on huge marketplaces in rapidly developing nations — with this comes pressure to adhere to complex standards.

Regulations. Developing and implementing superior processes related to rapidly evolving labels and new regulatory regimens for information and anti-counterfeiting.

Economics. Downward price pressure due to broad governmental and economic factors is an ongoing challenge for the pharma packaging industry.

New-product cost. A shrinking new-product pipeline, with fewer blockbuster drugs and increasing new-product cost.

Speed-to-market. The need for speed-to-market and agility to capitalize on short windows of exclusivity.

Informed consumers. Consumers are paying far more attention to the health, nutritional, and fitness benefits of the brands they buy, using information they find on the internet, through social media, and on a growing selection of “clean label” products to guide their choices.

In response, sophisticated branding and product information are being implemented to pharma packaging to satisfy demanding OTC consumers and ever-more-informed patients.

Serialization and usability. The requirement for a clear serialization strategy driven by the Falsified Medicines Directive — not only do patients need the correct medication without the risk of counterfeit products, they need to know how to use the packaging and have a clear understanding of how it works.

Brands still need to build physician awareness and trust through product-centered information. But to win with empowered consumers, they must also provide brand-centered relevance, based on insight into consumer behaviors, perceptions and preferences.

Beyond just behavior changes in terms of cost, behavioral science shows that people’s choices are driven not only by rational factors, but also by a variety of societal, emotional, and psychological factors.

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