Why Is Moving from a Traditional FTE-Based Marketing Mix Model to a Tool-Based Model in Pharma Difficult?

Nov 01, 2021 | Marketing Mix Modeling
Sayantani Sen
Businesswomen Corporate Marketing Working Concept

Moving from a FTE-Based Marketing Mix Model to a Tool-Based Model in Pharma

Moving from a FTE-Based Marketing Mix Model to a Tool-Based Model in Pharma 1024 683 deepak

Marketing mix models (MMM) are one of the most efficient methods for determining media placement effectiveness in pharma. But as data availability evolves and consumer behaviour shifts along with new methodologies to capture those shifts, this effectiveness can be questioned. MMMs help you analyse the data so that you can predict the return on investment for marketing dollars spent.

To achieve this, MMMs use a complex equation that uses historical information as a base. It further adds other variables, such as promotional activity or seasonality, to the equation. In the end, it predicts the future impact on sales based on that history.

However, the challenges in MMM evolve and redefine themselves every day. The accurate measurement of ROI becomes more challenging as the number of channels and the type of content evolves. Uncertain events like COVID-19 force pharma brands to revaluate the targeting and measurement strategy and keep them on their toes. If I’m allowed to be a little dramatic ‘For those who will not change shall perish.’

Why Move From FTE-Based MMM to a Tool-Based Model?

In health care, the needs of every individual are unique, which requires a personalized consideration of a patient’s illness, diagnosis, and treatment, making it much harder for marketers to create and deliver messages and a perfect tactical mix needed to maximize brand performance.

Historically, pharma marketers have relied on running the marketing mix model once every year, twice if you have a lot of resources, and this was not without a reason. MMM models are expensive to run both in terms of effort and time. The ROI of running the model more than once a year is debatable. Are the results going to be that different to justify the additional cost?

The answer is – it depends. Is the brand planning to run a campaign mid-year and needs different targeting criteria? Is the brand comfortable learning about the results at the end of the cycle, and losing their entire budget with the possibility of a lower return, rather than investing in measuring the ROI scientifically and periodically? Does the brand have the bandwidth to run and digest a MMM periodically? Is there a way for us to run these MMM in a cost-effective and time-bound manner? Advances in technology have enabled us to use more effective tools, and we must shout a big YES to the last question.


All new changes come with their own set of challenges. Here are some of the major challenges faced even by the leading pharma companies while moving to a tool-based model from a FTE-based MMM.

  • Data Integration Challenges
  • A vast majority of the projects have data coming from multiple sources. In such cases, even if one of the data sources changes, the tool can break, leading to a major inconsistency. There can be a lot of other challenges if the data is protected, large, or inaccessible.

  • Trust and Adoption 
  • Pharma is in the earlier stages of tool adoption, and most companies fear that the investment can drain their resources without adding value. Companies can save time while selecting the right vendors and doing other groundwork in the late stage of adoption only.

  • Flexibility and Cost
  • The tool can be rigid in what it does, and the analytics projects have a dynamic design. Let’s say the selected tool does 80% of the work. There is still 20% of the work you need to do. It can create overhead for the team and defeat the purpose of having a tool.

    Moreover, the tool can be expensive, especially if it does not meet the expectation. Companies will also have to bear high maintenance costs and an overhead cost if the tool becomes outdated.

  • IT Integration and Support
  • Your IT team may have certain restrictions in integrating these tools due to security and infrastructure issues or can have different opinions about the best platforms and tools.

    Furthermore, some tools may need special permission and integration that the IT team may not be comfortable with. Some tools even need additional inputs/work from the IT team, which will require you to have a separate support team for this new tool.

  • Compatibility
  • There are many tools in the market. At a large organization, different stakeholders can be looking at different tools, but these tools may not sit well with one another since only a small number of them are flexible and generic enough to fit multiple roles.

  • Management and Team
  • The team members/management who have done most things traditionally may fear that tool may make their work redundant. There are also chances that in the long run, the essence of doing the work after understanding the concepts goes away as people use tools to get to the results.

  • Awareness
  • There can be various problems about the awareness of the tool, such as the depth of tool capabilities can be misunderstood. Overcoming the strong belief among people that these tools cannot cater to their day-to-day needs is another major problem.


Marketing in pharma has become more challenging because of the unique hierarchy of the sector and its inherent marketing guidelines. But it provides a level playing field for all competitors where old and new players, small and large organizations try their best to market themselves in the pharma industry. Over time, a tool-based model instead of a traditional FTE-based Marketing Mix Model is becoming mainstream. Pharma companies are realizing the importance of rapid experimentation and scientific modelling to arrive at the best strategy rather than relying on their gut feeling. There can be a smooth transition if there is a way to overcome the hurdles on the way. And it starts with knowing and acknowledging those challenges.

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