Medical Devices Aren’t Luxury Goods, So Why Does Medtech Try to Sell Them That Way?


The medtech industry has long behaved like manufacturers of luxury goods, relying on relationships with individual decision makers to sell innovation at a premium.

Like the sports retailer selling the latest lightweight, carbon fiber road bike or the jewelry store clerk discussing the appeal of a self-winding wristwatch, medtech sales reps have leveraged customer preferences and “features and benefits” to drive purchasing decisions. For years, they’ve sold to individual stakeholders based more on desirability than on outcomes: If a surgeon wanted the new top-of-the-line medical device, he’d usually get it.

However, medtech companies are increasingly recognizing that they can’t simply talk about features and benefits, and must work hard at adapting their messaging for non-clinical decision makers. Many more stakeholders are involved in purchasing processes nowadays, and the decision criteria are increasingly complex and tied to quality, outcomes and total cost of care. Price concessions such as volume-based rebates, which may have been enough to keep the purchasing department happy in times past, are increasingly insufficient in the new model.

To win over stakeholders, from nursing staff to department leadership and hospital executives, manufacturers need to move away from the luxury model, and develop a compelling, outcomes-oriented value proposition that clearly communicates the value of an offering in terms of its impact on quality improvement and cost reduction.

How can medtech shift the conversation away from medical devices as luxury items, and toward medical devices as essential and cost-effective drivers of positive clinical outcomes? ZS experts Brian Chapman, Kevin Stockton and Will Randall share five factors to create a compelling medtech value proposition suited to the value-based healthcare environment.

About the Experts

Brian Chapman is a principal in ZS’s Evanston, Ill., office and leads the consulting practice for ZS’s medical products and services team. He has worked with companies on a range of sales and marketing issues, including sales force effectiveness, organizational design, opportunity assessment, channel design, new product launch strategy, value proposition development, territory alignment and incentive compensation. Having spent several years working and living in Europe and Asia, Brian focuses on both U.S. and global projects.

Kevin Stockton is an associate principal in ZS’s New York office who works with medical products and services clients on commercial strategy and transformation, early commercialization and product development initiatives, focusing on new or in-line brands for medical device and diagnostics companies. Kevin has done a number of early commercialization, go-to-market strategy, positioning and value proposition projects in a variety of therapeutic areas for pharmaceutical and medical device companies, and in the healthcare information technology market.

Will Randall is a manager in ZS’s Evanston, Ill., office and a member of the medical products and services team. Will has worked with clients across the U.S. and Europe, covering a wide range of commercial issues including go-to-market strategy and channel design, opportunity assessment, forecasting, and product launch strategy. Will holds a first class degree from Trinity College, Oxford University.