How will Amazon’s PillPack acquisition shift healthcare marketing?

Rethinking B2B healthcare strategy in the Amazon-PillPack era


This month, Amazon confirmed their acquisition of the VC-backed startup PillPack, a pharmacy industry disruptor and more importantly, a purchase that demonstrates Amazon is serious about gaining a foothold in the healthcare sector and expanding beyond basic retail. Moreover, with Amazon’s funding machine behind it, this new pharmaceutical force could increase healthcare access for uninsured individuals or those with high insurance deductibles.

Of course, Amazon’s acquisition of PillPack is part of a broader evolution in healthcare practices and marketing and the need to develop an increasingly personal connection with consumers to succeed. That means developing multiple digital consumer personas, developing value-added educational resources and building on years of direct to consumer marketing that has transformed how both providers and patients approach healthcare interactions.

The added value advantage

The US is one of the only countries where direct to consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals and other healthcare products is the norm, a factor that’s served to shape how individuals use the internet. In particular, such practices have translated to a personal investment in health such that 72% of internet users search online for health information and one in 20 Google searches focuses on a health or wellness target.

Consumer interest in health topics is, it should be noted, complicated by mixed levels of healthcare literacy and that means an added incentive for healthcare businesses to create accessible educational resources. This is why marketing materials like The Gawler Cancer Foundation’s color-coded “7 Essential Elements” for health and well-being is so useful; it gives consumers a clear, easy to use look at and overarching healthcare process, while offering providers a basic framework and teaching tool for in-office use.

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You’ll find tools like this across the web, from the CDC’s mental health resources to local physicians’ blogs, and the angle is obvious – educational tools make for better customers, better relationships and most importantly, from a marketing perspective, stronger branding. The more educational content healthcare brands develop, the more likely they’ll be viewed as a key player and experience broad name recognition.

Thinking strategically

In addition to developing educational content, healthcare brands are also mastering the B2B market by creating strategic content marketing plans that utilize their educational materials and target multiple sub-demographics, including PCPs, specialists, patients and insurance companies. To accomplish this kind of outreach, these companies are using e-newsletters, microsites, webinars, and infographics, among other tools. And of course, they’re connecting with clients of all types via social media.

At its core, healthcare is a rapidly growing industry, but you don’t grow by maintaining the status quo. Simple changes, expansions and mergers like Amazon’s acquisition of PillPack, which involves a trusted, high-recognition buyer, however, have the potential to push the industry to new heights and fill gaps in the market, such as the growing number of pharmacy deserts across the country.

The simple fact is that an industry can expand, while still leaving major consumer groups behind. Disruptors, though, tend to do the opposite – reaching out to fill an unmet need and identify the true parameters of the marketplace. The bottom line is, with a field like healthcare, where everyone is a potential customer, comprehensive reach and expanded access is the surest way to outpace the competition.

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