OUR SURVEY FINDINGS: The Impact of AI in Pharmaceutical Marketing

Pulse Issue 10 2023

"OUR SURVEY FINDINGS: The Impact of AI in Pharmaceutical Marketing"

Bastion Brands recently conducted a survey of marketing experts to gauge their understanding, uptake and future usage of Artificial Intelligence in Australian Pharmaceutical  Marketing.

It is clear the overarching desire was to embrace AI technology, however it seems it is

still a while off being implemented effectively.

Some of the major insights are as follows…

Current usage:

While responses generally indicate ‘room for improvement’, in terms of ‘future use’,

respondents saw big steps being taken by their companies with AI,

not just in terms of marketing, but in broader aspects of healthcare such as research, treatment development and education.

An average response of just 4.2 (out of 10), suggests the understanding of AI

and its implications specifically in marketing, is quite low.

A similar result was recorded to the question of uptake, with only 4.8 saying their business was ‘enthusiastically embracing AI’

This response was surprising given the continued talk around

how AI has already made an impact on so many industries, however results like this seem to indicate the ‘revolution has slowed’, or simply can wait.

In fact, when asked if their company was using Ai, over 50% said hardly at all, or they were not aware of its uses.

Opportunities and advantages:

However, when the question came to opportunities and advantages, the answers were more definitive, with respondents indicating Ai could be used in:

      • Data analytics (82% of respondents),
      • Education program development (65%),
      • Personalised sales interactions (64%)
      • Idea generation and strategy (61%),
      • Better understanding of customers/targeting (28%),
      • Social media generation (24%)
      • Personalised treatment programs for patients (22%)
      • Marketing strategy planning (18%)


The advantages of AI were seen as consistent across the board, with the key benefits being:

      • Speed and cost effectiveness (92%)
      • Thinking ‘Outside the box’ (80%)
      • Better understanding of data (77%)
      • Enhanced interactions (sales) (75%)
      • Helping target communications (60%)

Limitations of AI

Conversely, when it came to perceived limitations, respondents indicated Ai:

      • Was only as good as the available data (94%)
      • Getting company acceptance to utilise fully/buy in from pharma to commit (82%)
      • Privacy concerns (81%)
      • Copyright issues (66%)
      • Ideas/creativity needs tweaking (60%)
      • Everything will look formulaic/same (55%)
      • Loss of individualisation/authenticity (42%)
      • Limit self growth (25%)
      • Unethical/not our own ideas (18%)

While these results lean toward the desire to uptake AI- even with the many concerns and issues mentioned

– across the board marketers still seem a bit ‘in limbo’, until their companies (and the industry in general)

fully embrace AI and its capabilities – particularly from a marketing perspective.

When asked about specific training programs with AI,

only 38% had attended information/training or workshops on AI, with many stating there was no streamlined or detailed training in place.

The remaining 62% stated a clear ‘NO’ to any formalised training at all.

The role of AI moving forward

Despite the lack of training and movement in the area, the last 3 questions asked about the future role Ai can play, specifically how it might assist marketers and the benefits to the pharmaceutical industry in general.

Respondents were somewhat in agreeance about specific tasks

and functions that AI could help them with, identified in no particular order:

      • Targeting/analytics
      • Education programs/HCP upskilling
      • Education programs for patients/discussion facilitation
      • Personalising customer journeys
      • Monthly comms strategy planning
      • Monthly sales strategy planning
      • Personalised sales and Forecasting
      • Idea generation/Copywriting
      • Channel mix/Omnichannel strategy
      • Test and trial/market testing
      • Regulatory Approvals
      • Day to day emails

Finally we asked how AI could benefit the industry as a whole, and while many respondents flagged

they were not there area of expertise, the overwhelming response was around R&D in new medicines,

and the ability of AI to quickly and efficiently compare data to improve patient outcomes.

Overall, the survey clearly showed that currently AI is not being used as much as marketers would like.

There was a clear understanding of what they desired to achieve

particularly around formalisation of comms strategies, personalising education and

treatment programs (for HCP and patient), maximising sales interactions via streamlined messaging and generating

effective and unique creative content fast.

However, when it comes to implementation – in a highly risk-averse industry as ours, it seems it is a case of ‘slow and steady’ rather than simply rush ‘all in’.

For a full rundown and deeper dive into the findings of our survey, please get in touch:

 Simon Davies
M: 0402 425 545

 Bruce Williams
M: 0407 359 582



We are always interested in hearing from great people dedicated to making a career in pharmaceutical communications. If you’re ready to make a positive impact with Bastion Brands, get in touch today.