New and different research approaches dominated the conversation at this year’s Pharma Market Research Conference in Parsippany, New Jersey.
With a strong mix of several hundred client and vendor-side attendees and nearly 50 sessions focused on the best practices and challenges concerning today’s changing pharmaceutical market research environment, the conference provided a great opportunity to learn more about how pharmaceutical market research teams are considering alternative approaches to meet their insights needs. If you want to be on the forefront of change in our industry, this conference is a must-attend event. Here are a few noteworthy trends discussed at the event:
CREDIBLE MARKET RESEARCH GUIDING COMMERCIAL INTEREST
In the keynote address, the President & CEO of a small specialty pharmaceutical company emphasized how important credible market research is for the stock price of his company and for the prospects of any small pharmaceutical company being acquired for a significant premium by a bigger fish. Research analysts at financial services firms are looking for sound methodologies executed by reputable research firms to validate that the molecular assets are not only scientifically viable, but also commercially appealing. Similarly, business development staff and due diligence teams at larger bio-pharmaceutical companies are also looking for evidence sound customer understanding is guiding commercial preparations. Valid methodology executed by reputable market research firms build trust, especially when the results or outcomes from the research are expressed in ranges. It is important for market research firms looking to partner with small pharmaceutical companies to understand that cash is front and center for their potential clients and efficiency is a must.
ACCOUNTABLE CARE ORGANIZATIONS & THEIR POTENTIAL LONG TERM IMPACT
A key discussion at the conference centered on macro trends driving Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). While some have withered on the vine, others are going strong. What does this mean for the pharmaceutical industry moving forward? Who is most important for pharmaceutical manufacturers to connect with at the ACO? What types of market research will be crucial in influencing pharma strategy and tactics? To provide the right insight to pharma, what key areas are necessary in Integrated Delivery Networks-focused research? At this point, there are more questions than answers; however, there was agreement that more and better understanding of ACO/pharma relationships will continue to dominate future conversations.
In the next few years, the role and influence of payers will continue to expand, as managed care organizations exert more influence on pharmaceutical treatment decisions than ever before. The discussion emphasized that it is critical for market researchers to understand how to effectively integrate managed market perspectives into traditional research with healthcare providers and payers. Conducting solid research with payers will continue to provide many new and unique challenges, but we must continue to find innovative ways to also include this increasingly important stakeholder.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM CPG?
A prominent Consumer Package Goods company shared insights into how they conduct research in the CPG space and how it is not so dissimilar to what today’s pharmaceutical researchers want and need. Similarities and differences in insight generation were discussed and debated. As more traditional B2B healthcare companies start to develop and enhance their focus on the consumer, applying tried and true methods traditionally used in the CPG industry will become more relevant. Specifically, thinking about the process of innovation as seen through the eyes of the CPG researcher will become extremely valuable to the Pharma marketer. At the end of the day, more and more pharmaceutical researchers are realizing there is much to be gleaned, modified and enacted from research being done by our CPG friends.
NON-CONSCIOUS MEASUREMENT & WEARABLES
Although eye-tracking originated in the shopper insights and commercial testing areas, recent advancements in technology have made eye-tracking particularly valuable in the development and optimization of physician sales materials. Insights researchers from a pharmaceutical company described an approach that focused on examples of how eye-tracking supplemented traditional qualitative research to provide vital insights in understanding how physicians visually engage with mobile e-mail communications and iPad details. Additionally, wearable technology adoption is growing at a rapid pace and with that comes a plethora of data. Conference presenters suggested that this abundance of wearable data can be used to generate a more complete picture of a patient’s life and can be a great complementary data source alongside more traditional market research methodologies.
Several sessions focused on the role of emotions, including one centered on how providing emotional context for your brand can help physicians better understand its relevance within the treatment area and the appropriate patient universe. Another session highlighted how researchers are applying the principles of behavioral economics, combined with psychoanalytic techniques, to identify new ways of eliciting unconscious and emotional drivers of behaviors among physicians and patients. From finding better ways to tell your story to consumers to getting physicians to think of patients in more emotional terms, it is clear that the role and influence of emotions will continue to garner the interest of both supplier and pharma-side researchers.
Within the pharmaceutical industry (and across all industries), storytelling continues to be a hot topic. PMRC featured multiple talks on this topic, as market researchers continue to be challenged to make their insights more actionable. As cost-cutting continues, some internal stakeholders question the investment level in market research. This environment underscores the importance of strategically starting with the end in mind not just getting the project started, of being on a quest for truth not just a quest for answers, of focusing on the audience to meet them where they are not just sharing the results, of presenting meaningful insights not just data, and of ensuring the story is organized in a way that compels action, not just following the structure of the questionnaire. If corporate market researchers and their supplier partners modify the way they communicate and deliver meaningful insights, internal stakeholders will be more inclined to use the data, take action and defend the investment in insights as a critical source of competitive advantage.