Return to list
Thought leadership

Building the Next Generation of Customer Profiles in Pharma

Bettina Papirio, Evoke VP, Engagement StrategyBy Bettina Papirio, VP, Engagement Strategy

Download a PDF copy of this article here

The best healthcare products don’t always win the market. Where a strong clinical profile was once enough to stand out from the competition and garner loyalty from patients and physicians, an increasingly crowded market is making it more and more difficult for healthcare brands to win hearts and minds. In fact, of 184 drug launches between 2006 and 2011, less than 50% achieved peak sales estimates five years after launch. Additionally, a study from Bain found that data regarding efficacy, safety, side effect profile, and ease of use account for only 50% to 60% of a physician’s decision-making. Patients also want pharmaceutical brands to focus more on the value and experience the product will bring. In a survey of patients in the U.S. and Europe, the majority (53%) felt that pharma companies do not understand their emotional and support needs.

Time to Challenge the Status Quo

It is time for pharma brands to rethink their relationships with customers and change the conversation. The narrow, inward-looking focus on product, clinical, and economic value frames the brand/customer relationship from the brand’s point of view. It focuses attention on sales, tactics, touchpoints, and channels that treat every interaction in isolation. Instead, pharma companies need to adopt an outward-looking approach that centers on agile customer profiles and shapes the relationship from the customer’s point of view. An agile customer profile moves beyond single transactions to insights-driven interactions and uncovers real-time opportunities, which establishes a relationship that fosters ongoing two-way conversation.

To build agile customer profiles that chart the path to effectively empower, engage, and equip customers to make informed decisions requires an organizational shift. It requires a focus instead on individual customer journeys, real-time analytics, and holistic views of every interaction across the entire ecosystem, as outlined below.

1. Create Personalized Experiences

Effective personalization means being able to understand, deliver, and take action based on what you know about that individual customer and their up-to-date journey with your brand. The customer entry points to this relationship are manifold with disparate locations, different situations, and various channels and conversations building an interaction architecture driven by context, intentions, emotions, and micro-moments of truth. Being able to deliver the next best action or conversation for each customer in real time at a precise moment, with coordinated messages and interactions across online and offline channels, ensures campaigns are always relevant.

2. Let Context Define the Connected Ecosystem

To be context-driven is to listen across channels and understand your customers based on their holistic activity with the brand and their intent at that moment. This can be achieved by looking at your customers through the lens of their journey and experience. This can get complex, and it is important to navigate this complexity with a map. The central function of a customer journey map is to help your brand relate to your customers’ experience. It explores what your customers think, see, feel, hear, and do; it illuminates behavior, preferences, and needs throughout the entire customer experience cycle, ultimately guiding your brand on how to best engage content continuously to shape the experience.

3. Be Responsive Across Channels

To prevent the customer experience from breaking down and causing frustration or confusion for customers, all channels need to work together to produce a consistent flow throughout the campaign, whether online or offline. It is important to think outside individual channels and orchestrate a consistent flow of communication across touchpoints. This does not mean it is necessary to add interactions or diversify channels endlessly, but instead to be where your customers are when they are there. It also means ensuring that online and offline touchpoints are combined with channel tracking to feed back into the customer journey map for further personalization and contextual relevance.

Agile customer profiles may not be a new concept for most pharma brands, but building and implementing them effectively for a product launch requires leveraging new strategies. Today, successful pharma brands are the ones that move toward personalized, context-driven, and omni-channel agile customer profiles designed to meet the needs of customers by understanding their individual journeys. They are more human and centered on the individual to deliver relevancy, real-time flexibility, and two-way communication.

At Evoke, our thinking is always centered around how we can make Health More Human™. To learn more about how to build agile customer profiles for your brand, please reach out to


Ascher J, Hoglund D, M’lika A, Ostojic I, Vancauwenberghe M. From product to customer experience: The new way to launch in pharma. August 2018. [Accessed February 18, 2020].

Berez S, Fleisch D, Hultman P, Jonnalagadda K. How Agile Is Powering Healthcare Innovation. June 2019. [Accessed February 18, 2020].

Patel K, Wiedenhoft E. Uniting pharma companies and patient organizations. August 2019. [Accessed February 18, 2020].