It is now clear that the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, in the early months of 2020, has profoundly changed business scenarios and has enabled organizations in practically every sector to rely more and more on digital tools . The objective, of course, was (and still is) to be able to guarantee continuity of the service while at the same time respecting the needs of social distancing necessary to contain the infections from COVID-19.

In this sense, it is interesting to explore the trend in the Health & Pharma sector, which includes hospitals, drug manufacturers, pharma consulting services, etc…and how a virtuous use of e-commerce channels has been able to make a difference.

Before delving into the subject, however, we need to clarify what the so-called Onlife Company is and how it has contributed to this evolution in marketing .

What is the Onlife Company and how it influences online marketing in the Healthcare sector

The Onlife Society is defined as the historical and social moment that we are currently going through, and which cancels the distance between online and offline experiences, effectively making them a whole in which the former mix in a synergistic way with the latter. In practice, digital platforms facilitate, simplify and make interactions in the real world safer , including in the health sector .

If we take into account how internet users have become progressively more curious, more impatient and more demanding in the search for personalized goods and services, it is easy to understand how even the so-called ” Patient Journey ” proves to be increasingly independent from opening and closing times. and from institutional physical locations , effectively “forcing” companies operating in the medical and pharmaceutical sector to adapt with personalized proposals. It is no coincidence that, precisely in 2020, Netcomm (the consortium of Italian digital commerce) and various pharmaceutical and health organizations gave life tothe On-Life Health manifestoto “build a common vision and accelerate the development of digital Health & Pharma in Italy and its integration at European level”.

The objectives? What is expect from any type of online service, regardless of its sector: universality of access, simplicity and speed in providing the service .

How healthcare e-commerce fared in 2022

As it is now known, the typical profile of the Italian e-shopper is now in line with the population, even if it continues to show a predisposition to e-commerce for the younger groups of users .

As regards more specifically the buyers of pharmaceutical or health products , the target tends to focus on the age group ranging from 45 to 55 years , and on mainly female users (55%). Other personal characteristics of this target audience include a good level of education and a geographic concentration prevalent in the North-West , albeit with little differentiation between small municipalities in the province and large urban centers.

The most noteworthy data relating to e-commerce of pharmaceutical and health products is however link to the surge in sales record in 2020: equal to + 72%. If we consider that, currently, online purchases involve 27.2 million buyers in Italy alone for an estimated total value of 30.6 billion euros , it is easy to understand that we are facing a truly impressive amount of business !

In this sense, the Health-Pharma sector has undoubtedly contributed to making a difference, since, together with the Food industry, it recorded a growth peak of 95% only last year.

What were the pharmaceutical products (or similar) most purchased online in 2022

As for the categories of pharmaceutical, nutraceutical or more generally related to health and wellness products most purchased through e-commerce platforms in 2020 , the ranking is as follows:

  • Vitamins, food supplements and sports enhancers
  • Creams and ointments for the skin and muscles
  • Natural health products
  • Generic drugs

To date, the market value of the Italian online Health and Pharmaceutical sector alone amounts to 1.22 billion euros , with an 89% growth compared to 2019 .

This surge is the result of several factors : not only has the value of the average receipt increased , but there are also 27% of habitual buyers of products (ie that guarantee repeated and regular purchases over time). The latter alone make up 40% of the total market value : not only do they buy more often , but in fact they spend more on average !

To the more curious, we point out that the highest amount of economic resources is invest in the purchase of vitamins, supplements and pharmaceutical products related to sports , followed by optical products and creams and ointments . About 45% of online purchases of health-relate products are made on generalist e-commerce platforms , but the data relating to online pharmacies is also interesting (35.4%, albeit with a slight decrease, of about 6%, most likely from relying on logistical difficulties in managing peaks in orders during the lockdown phases), that of the e-retailer sector (11.1% with an increase of 2.2%) and even of theproducer (7.2% of purchases, with an increase of 0.8% compare to 2019).

Online pharmacies generate a total value of 440 million euros out of the 1.22 billion total value of the sector market in Italy.

But what pushes web users to use the web to buy this kind of products too?

The purchase drivers are different , and among these the repetitiveness of the order , the response offered by search engines , the tendency to buy new products (index of a dynamic and evolving market, but also not yet mature), the particular attachment to a specific brand or product. It goes without saying that other values ​​that should not be underestimate will include economic convenience , the convenience of receiving products directly at home, special offers promote by vendors, advice from a medical practitioner or a health specialist andtendency to stay at home during lockdown periods, which already alone favors online purchases .

How to best sell Healthcare and Pharmaceutical products online?

In conclusion, pharmacies wishing to offer their products online will have to take into consideration all the determining factors for an efficient service in the light of what we have illustrated so far.

What the potential buyer expects is not only the safety and reliability of the product , but also an accurate description of it, which includes the list of ingredients and components, the dosage, specific indications and any side effects. To this, both the economic convenience and the speed of delivery of the products must always be add .

Finally, attention to the values ​​that, compared to 2019, have become even more preponderant and that the e-shopper expects to see embodied by those who offer health products online: integrity, quality and correct storage.

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