Why a Pharmaceutical Market Research Role is a Fantastic Career Move

Dec 27, 2020

If you’re looking for a role in a dynamic, lucrative and fast-growing business area, look no further.

This article will discuss the pharmaceutical industry and its associated market research field to get you up to speed and give you some ideas for writing a great cover letter!

Whether you’ve just heard about this industry or are looking for extra information for your application, we’ve got you covered. This post will share details of the industry, key competencies and skills you’ll need to work in it, and the latest developments within the field.

Why there’s no better time to get into the pharmaceutical industry

There is simply no better time to begin a career in healthcare and related fields. It is an enormous worldwide industry, currently valued at over $1 trillion, and is growing rapidly.

Although pharmaceutical companies make around 55% of sales in the US and Europe, the industry is constantly expanding in other markets too. India and China are the two best examples, as both offer increased demand and substantial capital opportunities.

Pharmaceuticals is an incredibly innovative sector which constantly breaks new ground and makes a positive impact on the lives of millions worldwide. The sheer pace of medical and technological innovation in the modern pharma market is unlike anything seen before.

One example is the recent announcement of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine which has offered the world hope after a challenging year. At time of writing, it has been shown to be 95% effective in late-stage clinical trials and is seeking FDA approval for mass production. 

The NHS plans to make inroads towards embracing personalised medicine, which is set to change the way that treatment is delivered. This is set to replace the ‘one size fits all’ approach in which teams which specialised in a particular organ system would give a broad diagnosis. 

The increased affordability of human genome sequencing and greater availability of high-speed computers needed for analysis have revolutionised medical practice. Staff can in many cases work out an underlying cause based on genetics and other clinical information. They then provide a personalised treatment based on an individual’s makeup. This allows for more effective treatment with fewer side effects.

Why business support is critical for pharmaceutical companies 

Public relations, mass marketing and advertising, are essential for pharmaceutical companies. The success of certain drugs and procedures captures the public imagination, while bad PR can be devastating. New technologies and changing government policies present an ever-changing landscape for the industry and as a result, offer both new opportunities and present new hurdles.

Increasingly, major pharmaceutical brands have embraced the cutting edge of consumer engagement, increasingly using social media influencer marketing in order to raise awareness of certain products and improve engagement and customer experience.

Their growth is driven by identifying health issues and then providing solutions to them. These can range from aging populations in developed economies to increased numbers of people living unhealthy lifestyles and much more.

Market research is of great benefit to the industry. Direct feedback from customers makes it easier to spot business opportunities while at the same time lowering the risk of business decisions and new ventures.

It can also help companies know when and how to advertise by providing insights into customer trends and values. This will in turn make decision-making more simple, let businesses set better and more intuitive goals and ultimately outperform their competitors.

Quantitative and Qualitative market research: What’s the difference?

Quantitative Market Research

This is probably what you think of when someone says market research. Quantitative market research involves asking a large number of people a series of questions about a topic to provide a lot of numerical data which can then be analysed and shown in graphs, among other things.

It’s a more efficient way to collect data and can lead to a broad overview of opinion. However, it can be inflexible and misses out on underlying motives for decision making and opinions.

Qualitative Market Research

Qualitative market research offers a deeper insight into people’s reasons and motivations for their actions and beliefs. The sample size is normally smaller and closer to the target demographic in most cases.

Often the research leads to ideas for later quantitative research. It focuses on words and images rather than numbers and generally serves as the basis for future decision making.

You can think about market research in terms of the recent U.S. election. Quantitative political market research would include polling, surveys and “big data”.

Qualitative analysis could include focus groups, informational tools and websites such as ISideWith which ask users about a range of issues and then suggests which candidate they should vote for based on how closely the candidate agrees with the user’s opinions.

While the website provides value to the user, it also generates a great deal of data about voting trends and the importance of particular issues among the electorate which can then be used to create qualitative insights.

Market research provides a solid platform for marketing strategy and international business expansion, which is particularly important for pharmaceutical companies.

Desirable skills and proficiencies you should have or learn

When applying for a role in market research, you should demonstrate most of these skills (some are specific to either qualitative or quantitative research):

  • Excellent analytical skills
  • A methodological and unbiased approach
  • Presentation skills
  • Proficiency with statistical software
  • Excellent communication and negotiation skills
  • Advanced writing skills for reports and similar
  • Effective budgeting and marketing strategy
  • Client-focused

Every pharmaceutical company and project you will be tasked with will be different. This means that instead of following the same formula day-in and day-out, you should first research the aims of the project and the client and adapt your approach accordingly. You must revise your methods to suit the problem rather than try to fit the problem into your way of doing things. The best research uses multiple methods, tools and data sets.

The world’s leading pharmaceutical companies

The global pharmaceutical industry is expected to witness sustained growth in the next year as the top companies race to develop the first effective COVID-19 vaccine. Below are several of the leading pharmaceutical companies to watch this year.

#1: Johnson & Johnson – New Brunswick, NJ, U.S.

Johnson & Johnson has been in business for over 130 years and is the world’s largest healthcare company, with over 130,000 employees and a worldwide presence. The company is working towards developing a COVID-19 vaccine through the Ad26® vector technology and PER.C6® manufacturing platform.

Its consumer health segment recorded a 0.3% increase in revenues, many of which came from the US market, which represents 25% of the global market, along with acquisitions and divestments, which had a positive impact of 1.6% on sales growth. The company had benefited greatly in the long term from its effective marketing strategy, which has comprised approaches such as channel marketing and mass marketing.

#2: Pfizer – New York City, NY, U.S.

In October Pfizer recorded a 4% decline in revenues with the bio-pharma market accounting for 76.2% revenue. International markets contributed to 54% of the company’s revenues, which included the sale of anti-infective products in China, including its antibiotic Sulperazon. The US accounted for 46% of sales.

The company formed a joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to combine their consumer healthcare businesses. Pfizer owns a 32% equity interest in the joint venture while GSK owns the remainder. Its recent venture with BioNTech to develop what may be the first production COVID-19 vaccine has led to soaring stock prices within the last few weeks.

#3: Roche Holding AG – Basel, Switzerland

Roche Pharmaceuticals enjoys two accolades in the pharma market as the world’s largest biotech company and the leading provider of cancer treatments. It operates on a global scale with Genentech in the US, Chugai in Japan and over 150 partners worldwide which carry out a variety of operations such as clinical development, manufacturing and commercial operations. Due to its diverse portfolio, Roche is one of the world’s leading providers of clinically differentiated medicines.

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to boost the company’s sales. Its oncology drugs Actemra/RoActemra are currently undergoing clinical trials to determine their effectiveness in treating severe COVID-19 pneumonia. If these prove successful production of them will be increased significantly.

#4: GlaxoSmithKline – Brentford, England

Perhaps the best-known pharmaceutical company in Britain, GSK has risen to the top of the global pharmaceutical industry due to its commitment to its core values of innovation, performance and trust. Its 10% year-on-year growth in 2019 revenues was driven by increased sales of its pharmaceuticals and vaccines products. GSK recently acquired Tesaro, an oncology company, and granted a technology license to Sabin Vaccine Institute to produce Ebola vaccines last year.

GSK expects that the COVID-19 pandemic will present several new risks and challenges that impact on business performance in 2020. The company is working with Sanofi to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 and with Vir Biotechnology to identify new antiviral antibodies against the disease.

How Graduate Coach can help you

Here at Graduate Coach, we help students, graduates and career changers to secure good graduate jobs. We do this by offering a range of products and services that are designed to give individuals everything they need to know to get the jobs they really want.

If you are hoping to get into pharmaceutical research, we can help you. We offer career coaching, to help you to produce an achievement-based CV, cover letters, interview training and much more. Get in touch with us today!

Written by Ben Clarke
Featured image credit: Photo by Chokniti Khongchum from Pexels

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