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For B2B marketing and event teams, 2020 delivered a crash course in hosting virtual events.

As social distancing rules relax, marketers are starting to shift to hybrid models that incorporate the most successful elements of virtual, while also using in-person events to build relationships with customers.

Key Findings

  • Delivering virtual experiences challenged most pharmaceutical events teams
  • Pharmaceutical firms plan to digitally enable event practices
  • Future event success will require event technology, the right partners, and agile execution

Digital Immaturity Characterized Most Pharmaceutical Marketing Events

Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, true virtual events — that weren’t simply webinars — and hybrid events were rare across the pharmaceutical industry.

Most events occurred in person with limited virtual engagement opportunities, leaving marketing and event leaders with less-than-optimal insights about ways to improve experiences and measure meaningful results at scale.

In surveying 84 pharmaceutical marketing and event-planning decision-makers, we found that:

  • Event teams prioritize demand-generation KPIs and engagement

Events continue to provide a unique opportunity for pharmaceutical companies to cut through an ever-increasing amount of noise and create a focused experience to both educate and engage HCPs.

  • Most pre-pandemic virtual events were webinars

Virtual event experience among pharmaceutical companies was quite limited prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Finding industry-compliant event management technology is challenging

Event teams at pharma firms lack experience with event management solutions; only 9% said they had implemented and used marketing event management software before the pandemic hit.

The Future of Events Is Hybrid

Events are central to educating and nurturing relationships with HCPs — and that won’t change any time soon.

Future pharmaceutical events will combine the best components of in-person and virtual experiences, creating a hybrid event experience for attendees and partners alike.


Pandemic risk mitigation required pharmaceutical marketers and event managers to set aside old habits in event management in favor of new virtual experiences.