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Specific Features of Promotion of Pharma Brands in Russia. Part 1



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Internet-marketing has been a driver for online sales since its appearance, including pharmaceutical products. According to eMarketer, the growth of the eCommerce pharmaceutical industry in 2020 was already more than 14% on a world-wide scale (the second place in terms of growth after computer products and consumer electronics, which reached an indicator of 18% each).

Of course, this trend has also appeared on the Russian pharmaceutical market, which is becoming more significant in its volumes every year. In 2021, the number of online orders in online pharmacies increased by 30% compared to the previous period, online sales increased by 34% as a whole, and the total volume of the pharmaceutical segment amounted to 2,295 billion rubles. In 2022, the average amount of expenditures for online purchases of medicinal products has become even more, 438 rubles per person (+34% compared to 2021).

All these results confirm that eCommerce not only has a place to be in the segment, but is also extremely promising for all pharmaceutical brands on the market. Since a significant part of sales was, is and will be in the future via the Internet.

Many companies used this fact to good advantage and started to actively use Internet marketing for promotion on the market, resulting in development of a highly competitive environment in the segment. Which, in turn, set quite high standards for brands to enter online sales. At the same time, Internet marketing in the pharmaceutical industry has become more profound, requiring deep expertise, thorough analysis of competitors and optimal strategy to find the target audience. Let’s add the Russian legislation to these points that has restrictions on advertising pharmaceutical products, and specific features of the Russian market as a whole. And we will get, at least, the conclusion that there is no way to do without the help of specialists here.

Let's talk about everything in order. RMAA experts examined necessary tools for promoting pharmaceutical products on the Russian market and gave detailed comments on the specifics of working with them at the moment.

A Few Words About SEO

Having extensive experience in the pharmaceutical segment with various brands, we have become absolutely sure that any promotion begins with SEO. After that, other advertising tools are linked up to it. As a rule, the next step after SEO will be contextual advertising, SMM, etc. Moreover, quite often the same “context” turns out to be ineffective not because any parameters are incorrectly configured in it or advertisements are incorrectly written. In many cases, the main mistake will be an inefficient website.

What is reffered to “efficiency” in this case:

  • a competent website structure, built with consideration to intuitive “usability” (product catalogue, product information, etc.);
  • content compliance with legal requirements;
  • option to quickly place an order online;
  • fast website loading on any device;
  • current prices and promotions;
  • setting up web analytics and analyzing key user actions.

This is the minimum required for users to make a purchase on a website after visiting it. And then, they came back again after a certain period of time and bought something again.

At the same time, competent optimization always has a long-term effect. Put in other words, it is enough to implement SEO with analytics literally once to get a successful result in the form of an increase in sales for years. What you need next is just some updates and well-timed improvement of content to hold users' attention. The same contextual advertising or SMM does not bring such results, because they always need regular financial investments and a constant increase in the intensity of impressions.

But you can't do without it either. It is paid advertising placed on various platforms that increases website traffic.

Advertising in Yandex

Proceeding to the paid advertising tools, first I would like to start with Yandex and its capabilities. Currently, the platform has various functionality, including search queries, advertisements, publications on various additional resources, etc. Moreover, Yandex is in no way restricted on the Russian market as, for example, the products of Meta* (Facebook**, Instagram**) or Google. Therefore, so far Yandex has been a monopolist in the segment of contextual advertising on the Russian market, in fact.

Besides, analytical data for the current period tells us that the Yandex audience is interested in purchasing pharmaceutical products more and more every year. Thus, in 2022, 60% of the service's users ordered medicinal products online at least once, and almost 25% placed an online order with home delivery. In this July, Yandex received approximately 1.3 million search queries about the online purchase of medicinal products and dietary supplements. Which turned out to be 12% more than in the same period of 2021. The share of such requests from mobile devices reached 83%. On average, people visit 4 websites from a search query by a subject area, and the interval from the first request to the purchase is about 6 days.

Source:, 2022

In addition, analysts noted some categories of medicinal products online sales of which increased at the beginning of 2022. They turned out to be medicines for diabetes, asthma, painkillers, etc.

Source:, 2022

According to Daria Pozharova, Customer Relations Development Manager of the Pharma industry, many factors contributed to the growth of online sales, including changes in Russian legislation:

“Since September 2021, not only pharmacies, but also commodity aggregators can deliver over-the-counter medicines to your home and advertise delivery. This influence the growth of the market: users can choose the right product, compare several offers and order delivery to the nearest pharmacy or home. Brands, in turn, seek to be closer to users and increase their online presence. Thus, in the second quarter of 2022, manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and healthcare products increased investments in online advertising by almost a third.” (comment on the Yandex platform research)

Let's return to the issue of Internet marketing on the platform. What is eventually to be done? We recommend using a comprehensive placement and promotion of brands in several Yandex services at once.

Yandex Direct contextual advertising - which includes working with search and thematic queries, keywords, budget optimization, etc. In short, a range of actions aimed at attracting engaged users from the Yandex search engine.

Yandex Direct's classic media tools are a banner on the main search page, videos and banners in the Yandex Advertising Network (YAN).

Media formats in geoservices - Yandex Maps, Navigator, Metro.

Promotion of content for a specific subject on Yandex Zen by creating a separate brand channel dedicated to the problems and issues that the purchase of products can solve. For example, the Sanofi-Aventis brand, which produces the pharmaceutical drug Essentiale Forte N, is already doing this.

For a more comprehensive approach with all of the above resources, we recommend using Yandex Audience, which collects user segments. Among them is retargeting, which allows you to set up communication only with an interested in purchase audience.

Thus, the combination of various Yandex services and tools allows you to interact with customers throughout the sales funnel, starting from the first advertising contact to making a purchase on the website.

Moreover, for successful promotion in Yandex, it is important to take into account the following nuances.

Step 1. Preparation of documentation for work with Yandex Direct

To pass moderation on Yandex, an advertiser that promotes pharmaceutical products must provide the following list of documents:

  • Marketing Authorization of a medicinal product;
  • The company's license for the production of medicinal products;
  • Permission for the introduction into civil circulation of a series (batch) of an immunobiological medical product;
  • License for pharmaceutical activity.

Besides, additional requirements are specified for dietary supplements. Despite this, all organizational issues can be solved more quickly with the assistance of advertising specialists who have experience of work with pharmaceutical brands.

Step 2. The use of disclaimers in advertising

According to the Russian legislation, advertising that is associated with the medical segment must contain a disclaimer. Accordingly, the category of pharmaceutical products also falls into this list and is labeled. The main nuance is that the rules for placing disclaimers for promotion of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements will be different.

In the first case, a disclaimer must contain a warning “There are contraindications. A specialist's recommendation is required”, which occupies at least 5% of the advertising area (in the text and visual parts of the message). In the advertising of dietary supplements, the warning text will be different: “It is not a medicine.” Plus, the disclaimer in this case should be larger and occupy at least 10% of the advertised content.

Furthermore, Yandex can add warnings to some formats of the material, such as text-graphic, video ads and smart banners, during the moderation of advertising. Nevertheless, the immediate task of an advertiser is to create a disclaimer in the advertising content.

Step 3. Sensitive topics and how to deal with them

Let's define this concept. This is to say, these are issues affecting the personal information of users, their experiences and personal difficulties. For example, treatment of serious diseases, diets, intimate problems, etc. Advertising of medicines, aimed at these topics, falls under additional restrictions from Yandex.

Most often this happens because of the straightforward nature of the advertisement. In order to make the promotion successful and possible for a wider audience, we recommend making a neutral message of advertising message. The main focus should be on the area of the product application, and not on the disease and problem as a significant human disadvantage.

An example of an advertising message in the Yandex search page for the query “acne". As we can see, the advertiser talks about the properties of the product and the problems that the product can solve, and does not directly point to the disease itself as a disadvantage.

Step 4. Selection of audience, behavioral targeting and retargeting

This Yandex option can be used for promotion of over-the-counter medicines and dietary supplements that are not related to sensitive topics. Mainly, this tool is aimed at showing ads to users who are interested in the product and have already searched for “something like this" in Yandex search. At the same time, the interests of users are divided into short-term and long-term. If the preferences of a particular user change, then the subject offered by Yandex also alters.

When launching a campaign in Yandex Direct, an advertiser can select a specific audience segment that seems most relevant to him. Several parameters can be taken into account: geo, socio-demographic indicators, etc.,. and also - search queries. For example, you can set up the display of advertising for users from Moscow who are interested in purchasing of contact lenses.

In turn, retargeting and audience selection allow you to narrow this segment and configure the display of ads only to customers interested in the purchase. One of these will be website visitors who have already put the product in the basket, but have not bought it yet. You can select these groups using additional Yandex Metrica or Yandex Audience web tools, simultaneously analyzing key client actions on the website.

Step 5. Communication with Yandex technical support

Communication with support specialists is an important part of the entire advertising process. There are often cases when communication lasts for a long period of time due to the fact that the Yandex specialist lacks additional information regarding the advertising campaign on the platform.

What situations may arise and how can they be promptly solved?

Firstly, when sending documents, it is necessary to select the subject of advertising properly (medicines / pharmacies, dietary supplements), because some rules for the placement of content will not be identical for different categories of goods. Secondly, when sending a specific request to specialists, it is necessary to specify the number of the advertising campaign or number of the advertisement. If you indicate only the advertiser's login, which can have several campaigns at once, the verification will be delayed. If the problem specifics are clear to you without additional answers from Yandex specialists, write about it immediately and add comments to the requests (a medicine was prescription one, but currently the form of release has changed, etc.).

Eventually, we see that successful work on the Yandex platform requires a comprehensive approach, since it has many nuances and various tools for launching advertising campaigns. However, no company operating in the pharmaceutical segment can do without this service, as the Russian audience of Yandex is interested in such products, more and more every year. But this is just one of the possible ways to work with users. Of course, it is impossible to imagine any effective campaign without promotion on social networks. The pharmaceutical segment will not be an exception here.

Read about how to promote pharmaceuticals in social networks in Russia in our next article.

* The organization is recognized as extremist and banned in Russia.
** Social networks are recognized as extremist and banned in Russia.

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About the Author

A content lead. Natalia runs marketing projects promotion with different digital tools in the Russian-speaking market. 


Author Natalia Gorenkova

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