Pharma Omnichannel: From Global to Local

With numerous teams around the world and an accelerating omnichannel revolution, mastering the global-local dance is more than just essential in the highly regulated environment pharmaceutical companies operate in. 

Omnichannel strategies, including roadmaps, digital tools and platforms, are often formulated at the global level. This is brilliant for consistency of branding and compliance, allowing pharma companies to streamline processes, use standardised messaging, and target multiple markets at scale. It provides an effective balance of flexibility and standardisation across jurisdictions.

But what about the local level?

Very often these templates and processes are misunderstood, misused or simply ignored by the local teams.

This article uncovers the keys to harmonising global and local team dynamics, ensuring robust support from the global side and granting local teams the flexibility they crave. Dive in to optimise your team collaborations!

Challenges with local execution

The local pharmaceutical market, which is likely where your pharma company took its first steps, can often be stuck in its ways.

While global strategies draw the map, it is the local teams that walk the path.

The biggest challenge is that every market, from Tokyo to Toronto, has its peculiarities, whether it is the cultural context, regulatory environment, or the consumer’s digital journey.

Cultural and regulatory diversity

When you look at pharma markets at the local level, you’ll discover diverse regulatory landscapes as well as impressive cultural and linguistic nuances.

What performs well in one market will come upon regulatory restrictions in another.

For example, the US market is notoriously permissive regarding the use of personal data for advertising. Meanwhile, much of the European market will throw up much more stringent data protection rules to follow.

Cultural and linguistic nuances are challenging too.

While local teams will instinctually pick up on these differences, a global omnichannel strategy can be so standardised that it doesn’t resonate with any local market at all.

A campaign slogan written in English could lose its charm when translated, particularly if it relies on wordplay, metaphors, rhyming words, or pop culture references.

Talent, skills, and resource gaps

As well as cultural and linguistic diversity, you’ll also find diversity in talent, skills and resources. Some local teams will have more digital marketing expertise than others, meaning that some will be more open to omnichannel marketing than others.

This is where training and upskilling local teams is important.

Getting everyone on the same page is a challenge, but it allows for a much smoother transition if every local market has a solid educational foundation.

Resistance to change

Rather than seeing omnichannel marketing as a way to embrace new global guidelines, local teams can easily perceive it as a loss of autonomy.

It’s a problem that we can all empathise with – the hotshot new boss coming in with no experience, telling old timers how to do their job. 

Avoiding this perception is crucial to implementing omnichannel marketing at the local level.

The key to overcoming resistance is to foster a sense of ownership in the implementation process. 

Divergent digital landscapes

Finally, there is a disparity in digital infrastructure between local areas.

Local digital landscapes can vary in the platforms available, the popularity of channels, as well as user behaviour.

What works well in one country may be ineffective in the next.

Furthermore, this difference in digital infrastructure can drastically alter how data is collected, if it can be collected at all. From measurement to analytics, the digital infrastructure at the local level might hinder how you can assess the success of omnichannel marketing strategies.

With the key challenges clearly outlined, let’s take a look at what you can do to negate them.

Best practices for local omnichannel marketing

With the challenges outlined, here are our tips, recommendations and best practices for a seamless integration of omnichannel marketing at the local level.

The key is to utilise the local teams, bringing them into the fold rather than simply dictating changes to them.

Early local involvement

Ideally, local teams should be advocated for when global guidelines are formed.

Their input should be considered from the outset, not as an afterthought. This will make the transition from global to local smoother, and ensure teams are more open to change.

To be specific, you should look to incorporate local insights, regulatory expertise, and knowledge of cultural sensitivities.

The benefits are obvious: excellent adherence to compliance and enhanced marketing efficiency.

The standardisation of omnichannel marketing is excellent for the global market, but it can be a hindrance at the local level – integrating teams from step one will help negate this.

Customisation within boundaries

Balancing between global consistency and local adaptation is the key.

You should encourage local teams to customise strategies but also stay within the framework of global guidelines. Developing KPIs and metrics tailored for each local market is a good starting point.

Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach, give teams an adaptable toolkit. This will allow them to select what is relevant and customise where appropriate, without stepping outside your overall omnichannel marketing strategy.

As a result, your global aims and goals will stay consistent while each local market can use the techniques, tools and platforms that work best for HCPs in the region.

Danish drugmaker Lundbeck has nailed this approach. Talking to Pharm Exec, they explain how they’ve created a common digital space “where we can place our content and where affiliates can pick and choose the content they want to use – in line with local regulations and restrictions –  and then translate, adapt, and publish that content.”

Continuous communication

To keep your marketing efforts aligned despite customisation at the local level, there must be ongoing communication between global and local teams. This includes regular updates, feedback loops and information sharing.

Start by establishing regular intervals for reviewing and updating global strategies based on local performance data.

Regularly scheduled communication will also foster collaboration between teams and lead to new opportunities.

Localised training and support

Tailored training programs are essential for bridging the skill gap between local teams.

Start by determining a basic level of technological skills that each team is required to have, adjusting this to each localisation. Depending on the channels, platforms and tools that are most effective in each location, this training can vary drastically. 

You can also provide dedicated support channels for local teams to address technical and operational challenges. Again, this should be framed as a collaboration rather than the head office telling local teams how to do their jobs!

Incentives and recognition

Motivating local teams to embrace your global omnichannel marketing should involve recognising and rewarding success.

When local implementations are a success, they should be acknowledged and even celebrated.

You can showcase examples of effective local customisation and executions to inspire other regions. Incorporate these examples into your localised training as well as regularly scheduled communications.


Implementing global omnichannel strategies at the local level can be challenging.

A reluctance to change and vast differences in cultures, languages, skills, talents and resources can put local teams at a disadvantage when marketing strategies become too standardised.

The key to solving the majority of these challenges before they even arise is early local involvement.

You need to advocate for a more collaborative and inclusive approach, moving away from the top-down strategy and paying more attention to the knowledge and expertise of established local teams.

By doing so, you can successfully implement your global omnichannel strategies at the local level, enhancing results and increasing alignment with local market dynamics. You should also discover improved stakeholder buy-ins through this approach.

Ultimately, a more integrated and inclusive marketing structure, where local teams are contributors rather than executors, is the way forward. 

About the author

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Stephan Samson

Senior consultant, with 30 years of digital marketing experience acquired across 7 countries, as many sectors of activity and a few successful entrepreneurial ventures. Stephan holds a french passport, is fluent in 5 languages, and currently lives in Spain with his wife, 3 children and 2 dogs.

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