How to Turn Pharmaceutical Market Research into a Competitive Advantage

Amy Marta

Video Transcript – Amy Marta, Principal

Market research is essentially helping a marketer be able to deliver value to the bottom line of their organization. When market research is effective, it creates a competitive advantage. There's a lot of things that I see pharmaceutical companies with effective market research organizations do.

First and foremost, they're focused on making business decisions. So before they jump into doing any additional market research, they pause. They think. They want to know, “What are we going to do differently as a result of this research. What decision are we going to make?” They'll step back and look at “What do I already know?” so that they're covering new ground as opposed to revisiting ground they've already covered.

Another thing that they do is they push—they push beyond data and information. They get to the point where they have observations and they have insights that truly are going to allow them to take action in marketing. They're going to make decisions that they otherwise wouldn't if they just stopped at data and findings.

And then lastly, the teams that I work with that are really, truly the most effective are the ones that work collaboratively with their peers so market research is not in its own silo. It's not sitting off by itself trying to figure out what their marketer wants; they're working together as a team, and they also bring in the partner that's going to do the market research to be part of that team.

The reality is if you really take a step back and think about what is it that you need to do and how you do it, you can probably be successful with the budget that you have. It's about doing less with less but being focused about what it is that you're doing. As we watch companies that are successful, they're taking a step back to say, “What is the business decision. What is it that I ultimately need to decide?” And that helps them focus. They don't end up doing research that's not going to be helpful.

ZS Case Study: How a customized approach to research solved a long-standing dosing challenge

The client was aware that physicians were having challenges getting their patients to that effective dose, but because of the label that they had from the FDA, they were limited in what they could actually say to physicians to help resolve the issue. We took a step to look at patient level data that the client had already invested in, so it was almost a free resource that we had at our fingertips to be able to go in and try to tease out whether or not there were some dosing patterns and dosing behaviors that looked like they led to success more often than others.

And once we had that evidence that said yes, in fact, there are, we were able to take that to a cross-functional team that included folks from regulatory, medical, marketing, market research—everyone who had a vested interest in trying to address this challenge, and got them excited about the fact that there really might be something out there that they would be able to do that would have a positive impact.

At that point, then we knew that we needed to do some incremental research. We decided amongst ourselves that a patient record study was really the only way to go because we needed to have the ability to have a much more intimate, granular understanding of the dosing behaviors that physicians were using with their patients, and to be able to tease out which of those were being more successful than others.

The client is really excited about the ultimate outcome that came from this project. They feel like for the first time since they launched the product, they have some very tangible action to take to help influence the physicians and ultimately the success that patients are going to have on their drug.

Even in an environment like today where there is pressure on the market research function, there's budget restraints and constraints that we're all trying to manage through, I still believe that market research has the power to really deliver to the bottom line, really lead to marketing that works for an organization.