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HCP Segmentation: A Blueprint for Strategic Success

Marketing strategy and audience segmentation are a lot like LEGO® blocks. When you put the right pieces together, you’d be amazed at what you can build in terms of business and patient impact. A marketing strategy works best when it’s executed against a well-built segmentation plan that targets those who most need what’s being offered.  

Take tennis shoes for example, a big-name shoe company wants to understand who needs or wants to buy their shoe, when and where they’ll buy it, and why. Do customers want the shoe for athletic performance or fashion bragging rights? Or maybe both? 

Creating the right framework for strategic HCP segmentation and targeting

The pharma industry is no different from any other industry in this matter—it requires a well-built segmentation strategy to best understand targeted customers. However, unlike a shoe company, a pharma company may choose not to market directly to patients. Instead, depending on the therapeutic space, the target customer is likely to be an HCP. So, pharma companies face the challenge of segmenting those HCPs who facilitate the use of treatments for appropriate patients along their individual treatment journey. Ultimately, a pharma company’s goal is to provide its product to those who need it most—the patients. But where to begin? 

The obvious place to start when building an HCP segmentation strategy would be identifying therapeutic area differences. Would marketing a blood cancer treatment to a dermatologist be the best use of resources? Likely not! However, what about marketing a headache treatment? Do you focus only on headache specialists, or do you expand the customer list to include primary care physicians who also treat patients with headaches? Answering this harder question requires a deeper dive into the segmentation.  

Additional factors to consider may be:

  • Is the HCP practice in a rural, community, regional, or heavily populated setting?

  • How many patients does the HCP see in their office?

  • Who could benefit from a treatment?

  • Does the HCP have access to pathways that make using a particular treatment easier?

  • Does the HCP have a pattern of referring patients to another provider?

Look at how HCPs learn and behave 

Beyond the questions of who, what, when, and where, what about the how? How do the current beliefs and behaviors of potential HCP customers impact their treatment decisions? HCPs are considered life-long learners, and thankfully so! Personally, I want to know that my HCP is curious and informed about the latest advancements and treatments should I need specific care.  

But where do HCPs go to gain their additional learning? 

  • Are they self-educators looking at governing body guidelines? 

  • Do they visit online medical educational resources? 

  • Do they prefer to connect with sales reps and/or a pharma company’s website?  

  • What about live or virtual attendance at global, national, or regional congresses?  

An HCP most likely relies on a variety of resources, and understanding how they behave and how they choose to educate themselves can provide key insights into where to focus educational resources for them. 

With multiple generations of HCPs now in practice, generational trends can also be a consideration when segmenting an audience. Viewing an HCP audience through a generational lens may extend to learning preferences, decision-making styles, and patient treatment considerations.  

For instance, a millennial HCP may lean towards using shared decision-making with patients, whereas a boomer HCP may be more likely to treat patients with a top-down formal authority or expertise.1 How an HCP prefers to interact with a pharma company may also be impacted by generational differences. In a recent article, an HCP from “Generation Jones”, or the younger boomer cohort, said he preferred face-to-face interactions with a pharma rep. In contrast, his Gen Z colleague said he preferred digital communications from pharma.2 However, be careful to avoid bias when considering generational trends in your segmentation plan.  

Start building your better audience 

Challenging preconceived notions of our trusted HCPs enables better discovery of their true beliefs and behaviors. Using this information to build customer segments is exactly what’s needed to create medical education that delivers the right message to the right HCP, who use the information to deliver the best care for their patients.  

Now, that’s building a better blueprint for strategic success.  

Ask us how we can help build and understand your audience segmentation in today’s rapidly evolving healthcare. 


1. Harvey Castro, MD, MBA, “Generational differences in medical practice: Exploring work habits of Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials,” April 29, 2023, KevinMD.com, https://www.kevinmd.com/2023/04/generational-differences-in-medical-practice-exploring-work-habits-of-baby-boomers-generation-x-and-millennials.html#:~:text=Focus%20on%20holistic%20care%3A%20Millennial,comprehensive%20approach%20to%20patient%20care (Accessed February 28, 2024). 

2. Jade Williams, “Conquering generational differences in HCP marketing,” February 15, 2023, GOLD, https://www.emg-gold.com/post/conquering-generational-differences-in-hcp-marketing (Accessed February 28, 2024).  


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