How COVID-19 is changing life sciences marketing

An article from our partner, ResearchGate

Our partner ResearchGate has recently published the following very insightful blog post. The article is also available on ResearchGate’s blog, view here.

“The pandemic has changed the norms of working life for many of us, scientists and researchers included. At ResearchGate, our data shows that the scientific community is currently spending less time in the lab and more time online, planning for the future. This presents an opportunity for life science brands: reach out now and help shape the life-changing discoveries of tomorrow.

From belt-tightening to bounce-back: preparing for a post-COVID world


The scientific community has found itself at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19. Scientists around the world are working on potential treatments and vaccines, while big life science brands like Thermofisher and Roche have been manufacturing testing kits and equipment used to combat the disease.

With data gleaned from the 17+ million members who use our professional networking platform at ResearchGate, and backed by other sources, we’ve observed that those researchers and clinicians who aren’t on the COVID-19 front lines are spending less time in the lab and more time at home. As a consequence, the life science industry may be experiencing a drop in orders of lab equipment and consumables, which might understandably result in some corporate belt-tightening.

Companies in the life science industry — a space expected to grow to a market worth of $80 billion by 2022 — will be looking to keep profits steady right now, revisiting cost structures and placing increased scrutiny on marketing ROI. At ResearchGate, we’ve been helping our partners stay connected with researchers and preparing them for a bounce-back in the coming months. In the process, we’ve noted trends that life science brands may want to consider before cutting efforts to market to researchers in the short-term.

By analyzing previous economic trends, we see that the businesses that maintain consistent, proactive marketing strategies yield better performance during and after a recession. Put simply, when fewer competitors are engaged in advertising, you can win a bigger proportion of your audience’s attention. We’ve noted in particular that maintaining your advertising presence can help new customers update their product knowledge, which in turn allows them to make purchasing decisions faster.

When global health is under threat, we learn to value science


One of the wider ‘side-effects’ of the coronavirus pandemic is an increased awareness of science’s importance in society. With updates on testing and tracing methods and the search for a vaccine in the news daily, we’re considering and appreciating the value of solid research more than ever before. What might the wider implications of this be for life science brands?

Along with other life science businesses, we believe this renewed ‘wave of appreciation’ for science is likely to result in bigger funding opportunities for researchers. This is another reason why now is a good time for life science brands to reach out to researchers with their services and products. With potentially bigger budgets on the horizon, scientists will be looking for partners to help them invest in much-needed areas of research. It’s a chance for life science brands to support the improvement of humankind.

Win-win marketing strategies


Researchers rely on scientific content to validate their purchasing decisions. The right kind of content helps them decide which techniques to adopt and materials to use. Antibodies research, for example, is incredibly application-specific, and researchers buy from trusted vendors that have proven successful results in previous experiments.

So it makes sense that researchers want to hear from brands that can support their research, especially at a time when they’re likely to be spending more time working from home.

Branded scientific content not only promotes products or services, it helps the researcher with their work. Despite this, life science brands aren’t making the most of this opportunity to reach out to researchers in the early stages of the purchase process. This needs to change, for the benefit of the brands and scientific research alike.

New researcher behavior patterns bring new opportunities for brands

At ResearchGate, we’ve noticed a behavioral shift — one that we believe is driven by the intrinsic need for collaboration at a time when face-to-face opportunities aren’t possible.

For obvious reasons, academic conferences and in-person scholarly meetings can’t happen right now. Researchers are seeking alternate ways to recreate the serendipitous discussions, collaborations, and knowledge sharing that would normally take place at these events. Virtual communities have become the natural place for these kinds of interactions to happen: researchers are spending more time making valuable connections online.

We’ve noted that those researchers who are working from home at the moment are spending more time on our platform — time onsite has increased 34% since April 2020. This means that those brands that remain active in the online scientific community on platforms like ResearchGate are likely to have an even bigger captive audience than usual.

We’ve also seen a substantial increase in engagement with branded scientific content — such as whitepapers, ebooks, and application notes — further proof that this type of content is invaluable to researchers right now.

Interest in webinars and virtual conferences is also growing, which offers another opportunity for brands to reach out. For many B2B industries, webinars have become the default option for lead generation. The evidence on the ROI of this kind of digital content is clear: 73% of B2B marketers and sales leaders say a webinar is the best way to generate high-quality leads. Now is the time for life science brands to follow suit and make the most of this burgeoning opportunity.

Top three takeaways: how life science brands can support researcher productivity at this time


  • Resist the temptation to shrink your marketing resource. Remember that your competitors are in the same boat, and you have an opportunity to reap the rewards from consistently targeting researchers with relevant content during this time. And with our prediction that research budgets might grow, there are likely to be financial rewards for brands in the long-term.

  • Support researchers earlier in the purchase journey — with the right content. In our experience, they’re very receptive to proven insights in the form of ebooks, application notes, and technical articles.

  • Jump on the webinar bandwagon. This medium is a great way to generate leads, and you might find that a lot of your existing content can be repurposed into webinar content with relatively little effort. In today’s changed landscape, this is what smart marketing looks like.

These are not ordinary times. But the world of science is full of extraordinary people who can make a difference. If life science brands can understand and adapt to the emerging behaviors in the scientific community, they can play a vital role in supporting research where it’s needed most — while also driving business success and top line growth.”

For more information about Wiley’s partnership with ResearchGate, please contact us.