How is the pharma landscape evolving, and what does that mean for brands?

Customer centricity isn’t a new topic, but has the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry truly got a handle on it?

We had a really interesting discussion on this in our recent webinar and were fortunate to have Lucy Mitchell from Jazz Pharmaceuticals join us to give her perspective.

It’s not too late to listen in to the webinar, you can register to watch on demand here.

But if you’re in the pre-Christmas rush and don’t have the time, we have summarized some of the key takeouts below.

How is the pharma landscape evolving and what does that mean?

1. The complex customer

Unlike other industries, the pharmaceutical sector faces a unique challenge in identifying their primary customer. Is it the patient, healthcare providers, regulators, pharmacists, or key opinion leaders – or maybe all of them? This complexity requires a multi-faceted approach to customer centricity or at least having a POV on what makes the most sense for your business.

We have seen a shift over recent years from patient centricity being the buzz word through to today, where there is a recognition of the need for a broader focus – or at least a more purposeful approach balancing what makes the most sense for the specific organization, therapy area or brand.

“In order to have that true customer centricity, we first need to define what we mean by the customer, and the customer that each of our initiatives is focused on. It’s then really essential that it is owned by the whole company, allowing us to focus on a joined-up way of engaging with them and having those customers truly at heart….

We don’t want to just be good at doing lots of things to do with customer engagement – we need to be really good at the things that make the difference.”

– Lucy Mitchell, Jazz Pharmaceuticals [extract from webinar]

2. Product evolution and stretch

Pharmaceuticals have made significant strides from simple ‘pill’ type medications to more complex and individualized interactions – think biologics or CAR-T or even digital monitoring of conditions. It’s no longer enough to rely on ‘blockbuster’ molecules. In an increasingly competitive market there is more and more emphasis on the ‘experience’.

Take the process of coming off a chronic treatment or even the first impressions of a new device when you have the ‘unboxing’ experience. These seemingly less important micro experiences as part of the broader brand journey matter more and more.

3. A sudden push on pace

The pharmaceutical industry, traditionally slower to adapt, is now compelled to keep pace with rapid external changes. Global pandemics, technological advancements, and evolving treatment approaches are forcing companies to rethink their strategies. Pharma companies can no longer hide behind the excuse that the rules and regulations make it harder to adapt and evolve.

There are cultural shifts that need to happen. Pharma companies have been quite good at ‘installation’ – putting the structure and systems in place, but often less so at ‘implementation’, i.e. bringing hearts and minds along to change the ways of working.

4. Different expectations

We know that culturally the focus on health is going to be very different for the Gen Z and Gen Alpha etc. They are going to expect the same level of convenience and innovation that we know from digitally mature industries like banking, consumer goods etc.

In addition to this, there is a need to think more holistically and consider the broader patient needs e.g. impact on mental health. We need to be better at predicting change and cultural shifts to stay relevant beyond the condition or the treatment.

5. So who are the standout customer-centric pharma companies?

We analysed annual reports of all the UK’s largest listed companies on the FTSE 100 and 250 and what we found was that more customer-centric companies outperformed the least customer-centric companies by 10% in terms of market capitalisation growth over 3 years.


Unfortunately, it’s difficult to break out and look at pharmaceutical companies separately – the sample becomes too small, and pharma share prices can sometimes have something of a ‘hits-driven’ nature making comparisons harder.

There is an interesting report from DT Consulting that looks at the state of customer centricity in the pharma industry, with a few interesting takeouts. Namely that pharma companies don’t really excel when it comes to the customer experience and in fact none of them are leading in this space. Where there is some small areas of differentiation e.g. Lilly, NovoNordisk and Roche, this is driven by factors such as trust, access to information and non-digital interactions.

Let’s take Roche – a great example where they have moved away from sales reps and now consider their customer facing team as customer journey partners instead, signalling a clear move from being product focused to experience focused.

Framework for assessing customer-centric maturity

There is so much to discuss on this topic and in the webinar, we got a little carried away and didn’t spend much time talking about our STRAT7 Path model for navigating change.

Our model is a structured approach to navigating the change journey in an organization and assessing customer-centric maturity. This model involves answering some of the questions below, allowing us to create a granular understanding of how an organization stacks up:


With STRAT7 Path, we can determine an organisation’s maturity across those dimensions, benchmark against category leaders, and start setting out the ambition and roadmap of actions to get there – taking customer centricity from an abstract concept to a tangible and impactful outcome.

Interested? Get in touch to find out more.


Joe Lockey

Senior Analyst

Joe joined us after completing rotations across our consumer, services and health sectors, whilst gaining exposure to both qualitative and quantitative research techniques.


Alice Hedlund


Alice has experience in customer-centric growth, brand strategy and innovation at global scale. She specialises in brand transformation journeys, bridging the gap between business and brand strategy to create holistic and actionable plans for impactful growth.

Helen Donald


Job Title

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Tom Carvell


Tom has a science background with a PhD in Materials Chemistry. He has spent most of his career working on in-house front-end innovation where he delivered mid/long term strategic projects for brands such as Durex, Scholl, Veet and KY. He is focussed on delivering pragmatic but provocative innovation strategy for CPG categories.

Manick Pratheeban

Senior Principal

Manick is a brand strategy and consumer insight specialist with 15+ years’ experience helping to grow some of the world’s biggest brands. He has a proven track record of translating trends, consumer, and market data into actionable insights to formulate growth strategies.

Kate Jones

Senior Principal

Kate has over a decade of experience in creating transformative strategies for customer-focused businesses. With a background in consumer insight and behaviour change across consumer health, packaged goods, leisure, banking and other sectors she focuses on elevating the customer experience to create human-centric innovations and foster impactful growth.

Jacob Gascoine-Becker


Jacob specialises in leveraging consumer research to inform investment strategy and business case development. A management consultant since 2014, he previously spent eight years working in ecommerce and digital marketing.

Ines Achabal

Senior Analyst

Ines is inately curious and creative. She is known for her expansive thinking when exploring client challenges and elevating the visual quality of outputs to maximise their impact.

Helene Mills


Helene has 20+ years’ experience advising business leaders and investors on growth strategy based upon consumer and market intelligence. Her particular specialism lies in leisure, retail, food and beverage sectors.

Helen Donald

Helen Donald


Helen has consulted businesses at different stages of growth across a variety of sectors, specialising in consumer packaged goods and consumer healthcare. She is an adept strategist, bringing clarity to the most complex of situations and connecting dots to create rich, future-proofed platforms for innovation, brand positioning and growth.

Allan Chen STRAT7 Advisory

Allan Chen

Senior Principal

Allan’s core skillset provides an analytical and commercial lens to address client challenges. He started his career as an actuary, and since then has held a broad range of strategic roles, improving performance across the private and public sector.


Björn Dufwenberg

Managing Director​

Björn has 15+ years’ experience in insight-driven transformation, across management consulting, as well as brand and innovation agency roles. Most recently he headed up the Customer-Led Transformation practice at PwC Sweden, until joining STRAT7 in 2021. He’s worked on global projects covering consumer goods, durables, spirits and beverages, retail, banking, and private equity.

Kamilla Dala

Senior Principal

Kamilla has 10+ years’ experience leading and implementing insight-driven transformation within global matrix organisations in durable and consumable goods. Areas of expertise cover segmentation, uncovering and translating actionable consumer insights within innovation, product development, brand positioning, strategy and marketing.