Pharma’s love affair with mobile apps waning

Pharma’s love affair with mobile apps waning
Credit: Shutterstock.com/ ymgerman

Leading Pharma companies continue to struggle to gain significant reach (downloads) within their target groups, according to a report by Research2Guidance.

While companies have cumulatively over doubled their number of active apps available on Apple App and Google Play stores (2014 – Q1 2017), most have added to the growing tail of under performers.

According to the 2nd edition Pharma App Benchmarking 2017 by Research2Guidance, only 0.5% of all apps published by the leading 12 Pharma companies have managed to achieve annual downloads of over 100,000.

The report builds on figures identified from the previous edition, released in 2014. It also explores the leading 3rd party digital innovation strategies, their components, and their successfulness in terms of benefits.

While companies have on average increased their app portfolio sizes from 65 to 153, average per app annual downloads remain low at just 3.300.

The three main drivers behind this phenomenon is that companies are competing against a growing number of mobile health (mHealth) companies. Moreover, pharma app portfolios have a narrower target audience than their mHealth competitors.

However, there are a few instances whereby pharma companies have achieved some success with their internal app publishing.

Johnson&Johnson, for example, have published three of the five most downloaded pharma apps for 2016. All achieved over 200,000 downloads for 2016. The success of their apps has improved their portfolios overall performance in comparison to 2014.

All leading Pharma companies have grown their internal app portfolio size since 2014, and all but two (Abbott and Sanofi) have increased their reach.

However, thanks to the growing app portfolio size of Bayer and Novartis, and the high downloads of J&J, half of the leading pharma companies have portfolios that fall below the average-lines.

Previously, this was the case for five companies. Taking J&J as an example, the success of a mere two or three apps can result in pharma app market leadership.