Q: Today companies have access to more data about prescriber behavior and patient attitudes than ever before. But what must industry do to obtain the maximum benefit from this vast sea of information?
C. Marshall Paul President, ACNielsenHCI
Market research can make greater use of currently available promotional effectiveness programs to dramatically improve the cost effectiveness of both ethical and DTC promotion. Such studies can also be expanded to measure the effect of education and promotion on compliance. Current research confirms that in many therapeutic classes, three out of four patients are noncompliant. New databases are being developed to meet these needs.
The market research challenge will be to link exposures—education and promotion—to patient compliance to demonstrate causality, unleashing the potential for increased sales.
Brian Cain Senior Director, Global Market Research, Schering-Plough
Steven Leeds Associate Director, Management Science, Novartis Pharmaceuticals
Patricia Pesanello Chief Knowledge Officer, BusinessEdge Solutions
New information sources such as behavioral characteristics and influence factors, even patient-centric information, provide an improved basis for segmenting and targeting physicians, as well as end users. They are also the basis of interaction-response models that suggest the most effective approach to affect the physician or group. When coupled with the systematic capture of the results of interactions, continual refinement of the model is possible.
The challenge is to develop the actual response model and determine which parameters to track by specialty or therapeutic areas—and then to develop practical decision-making tools and execute the model in the field. The sales force is an expensive but effective way of impacting sales and market share, so these new approaches need to be seamless and modify or replace current call planning and reporting practices. Most automated sales systems facilitate many of these activities. But to mobilize the sales force to use new approaches efficiently necessitates new directives, training, and coaching. Reps need to be trained to leverage the models during call planning and act upon office cues, maximize limited physician time, and engage in substantive dialogue with credible product information.
To derive new insights from call results, we need to move beyond free-form text to structured call notes that can be analyzed and used to refine models. New metrics of selling success which include the quality and duration of the call and the nature of doctor-rep relationship—all relatively hard to measure—require that new data sources be introduced into the continuous cycle of managing customer-call information.
Rob Sederman President, C2 Consulting
Consider this: If a company's sales territories are ranked by market share, then grouped into quintiles, we find dramatic variability in the market share metric. For example, in one recent analysis a product averaged a 25 percent share nationally. The top quintile territories had market share of 50-75 percent, while the bottom quintile had 5-10 percent. In other words, this 25 percent market share product has some territories consisting of hundreds of target physicians with an average market share two to three times greater than the average. Yet, when a market research study is performed, companies typically rely on average ratings and how they relate to average market share in making critical marketing decisions.
An alternative is to better understand the market and competitive forces driving data variability. That way, a company may make very different decisions about resource allocation and invest in the levers that are likely to have the greatest impact. We have the data—it's time to exploit it, rather than average away and ignore the variability we know exists. "
Sue Siewert Director of MarketingResearch, Schwarz Pharma, PMRG Board Member
Databases are dynamic and the possible analytics are numerous, so thorough analysis plans should be generated and reviewed by brand teams. This process can assure the path to useful, integrated patient, physician, and primary research deliverables. Learning and creativity will build on these types of team efforts.
To better solve marketing issues, we can learn from CPG experience. Many consultants who attended the Spring '04 Pharmaceutical Marketing Research Group conference had considerable CPG background. It seems we are only on the cusp of acquiring best practices with patient data.
John H. Starzewski Vice-President, Regional Business Group, Wolters Kluwer Health, Pharma Solutions Division
Andrew Aprill Founder, Biovid
When was the last time Ford launched a product that fundamentally changed the marketing landscapein its industry? In pharma, scientific advances do that all the time. And those fundamental changes require new data and new models for making sense of those data. Today, the big shift is toward protein-based therapies, which requires new ways of collecting data and understanding, first, what to measure, and then how to integrate it into existing models. It's one thing that makes the industry exciting.
Leonard J. Vicciardo President and COO, Health Products Research
The problem lies in the fact that because most research is conducted ad hoc, it exists in silos that do not provide a total view of how various marketing initiatives work relative to one another to drive business results. Not only is research generally not integrated to provide this view, it is rarely used on a consistent basis to inform and act as a key input to the strategic business planning process.
Most pharmaceutical marketers have lots of "data." To harness the power of their data moving forward, marketers should think about how they can more effectively integrate it into a robust planning, execution, and measurement process to drive better business plans and optimized marketing programs. We have found that the clients that consistently plan their research and analysis activities are significantly further ahead in their efforts to optimize the resources available in their portfolio.
Liz Coyle Vice-President, Launch Management Marketing, IMS Health
A: It's no exaggeration to suggest that pharmaceutical marketing research must enter a new era. The value market research provides to the strategic and tactical decision making in companies has never been greater and is rapidly evolving.
The need for speed is one effect of this highly competitive environment, particularly when it's paired with political challenges on pricing, marketing practices, and distribution, as well as legal assaults on patent protection. In such an environment, the value of information increases exponentially. Having data, of course, isn't the same as knowing what it means and being able to apply it toward decisions that drive business results. Market research must go beyond having the data needed with the timeliness required. It must assess, interpret, and transform information into actionable insights for the organization.
To maximize peak sales, manufacturers need to use today's newer technologies and sophisticated analytics to monitor critical market dynamics to ensure that their results are on track. Evaluating key metrics—such as new drug sales, prescription switches, and new therapy starts, in combination with assumed or proven behavioral drivers—on a weekly basis creates a comprehensive repository of data that market research can interrogate to identify root causes for success or failure. Just "knowing the stats" is not enough. In Moneyball, author Michael Lewis makes a similar point regarding success in baseball. You don't get the insight and intelligence needed to drive an organization just by tracking and reporting on lots of interesting, recognized metrics. And tracking and reporting on too slow a cycle handicaps even the best research team. Every week of marketplace advantage has to be maximized. If pharmaceutical companies are not tracking and adjusting brand activity continuously, then they run the risk of leaving time and money on the table. "
Paul Skinner Vice-President, Information Systems, Dendrite
It needs to go deeper. You've got to have more precise data for segmentation down to smaller groups of individuals—the segment of one. We call that behavioral segmentation.
The data must be in a form that can be aggregated over different buying constituencies, and I don't think that much of the current data offers that kind of capability. If you look at the normal coin of the realm—NRX, TRX—you can't really get a sense of what the underlying patient communities are like.
And companies need data that tie together the different parts of the organization. Constituencies like marketing and sales aren't well tied together currently. They operate largely independently off different data sets. And the central business planning operates independently again from a different data set.
Think, for example, about the vital role that sampling plays in the pro-motional mix. It is an extraordinarily expensive enterprise, and it's important for the salespeople to have it. But I don't think that data are being used to optimize the use of samples.
Howard Ziment CEO, Ziment
True forecasting. Marketers want and should be able to accurately understand what the actual demand is for a new product or indication.
True micro-marketing. Market research must have the ability to fulfill the prom-ise of individualized sales approaches to physicians.
True differentiation in messaging. Market research must articulate what separates brands and the ideas, phrases, and words that best communicate unique selling propositions.
True ROI analysis. Market research should be able to substantiate that marketing initiatives make money.