Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Market Research and the Pharmaceutical Industry: Immersion in the Customer is Key

The pharma industry is going through a crisis right now that’s not dissimilar from the crisis the market research industry is experiencing - dramatic and sudden change and upheaval. Amy Marta, Principal of ZS Insights writes: “15 years ago, pharmaceutical companies brought many products with tremendous value to the public, but a lot of those products are going generic. Not all new products are providing improved benefits or better outcomes than generics that are less expensive.” Upheaval has come to the market research industry in the form of incredible changes in the way we’re measuring consumer consumption and engagement now that digital has become so ubiquitous.

"It's about integrating all that information together"

Susan Kavnik Senior Director within the Healthcare Practice at Point B, a Management Consulting Firm, had this to say in her article Applying Lessons from the Retail World to Health Care: “As patients put on their consumer hats they are expecting the same level of service they would receive in retail environments.” The article advises that patients’ perspectives have changed, and healthcare (and in our case pharma) needs to evolve or risk losing customers. Much of this involves figuring out the right channels to reach consumers and providing the content they need.

Amy Marta of ZS Insights echoes Kavnik’s sentiments as far as customer-centricity: “The proof of a good research organization is in how researchers do their jobs—they’re immersed in the customer. They’ve learned about customers over time, and learned about them through different research approaches. They use ethnography, social media, secondary data, and a whole host of other information. It’s about integrating all that information together.”

But how to do all this as the research becomes ever more complex, and as Marta notes, research budgets in the pharmaceutical industry are being shrunk? Marta advises that less is more. She writes: “I prioritize research relative to the business issue at hand, and recognize there’s already a base of knowledge to leverage. I need to work with my clients to elicit what they already know to be true versus where there are genuine, relevant gaps in knowledge.

The best companies realize they can recycle. It’s not a word you hear a lot in research; it essentially comes down to knowing what you know. It’s going back and reflecting on prior research—customers generally don’t change that quickly. There’s information that you spent $200,000 to discover a year ago. The first step should be going to see what you can extract from that research. If the research was well designed, capably executed and synthesized skillfully, it’s likely that there are findings and insight that are still valuable to you today."

Marta continues: “The industries that do market research the best, like consumer packaged goods, have set the standard and established their market research organization as king—they’re contributing a tremendous amount of momentum for the company. Their industry is driven by market research.”

The Market Research Event this October 17-20 in Boca Raton, Florida will have several market research representatives from the pharmaceutical industry sharing their insights on everything from apps and digital health (Janssen) to qualitative segmentation (Noven Pharma). Other pharmaceutical companies with representatives scheduled to speak include Eli Lilly and Teva Pharmaceuticals.

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