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The Role of Market Research in Product Ideation


Caitlin Szczepanik
Research Manager, Market Research
The Agency Network at MJH Life Sciences

Caitlin Szczepanik
Research Manager, Market Research
The Agency Network at MJH Life Sciences

In pharmaceuticals and medical technology, market research can be utilized at all phases of the product lifecycle. From ideation to long-term tracking after product launch, market research can provide insights all along the product journey. While market research is often employed once a product has been designed to concept test, look at the competitive landscape, or even establish pricing, it can be used even earlier to design the product itself from the ground up, without relying on your gut.

An analysis that is commonly used in market research and can help build a product feature-by-feature is the conjoint analysis. By allowing the respondent to choose their preferred product over several iterations, a conjoint analysis can simulate a customer’s shopping experience to choose the favored features and create a product that is optimized for the marketplace. This allows the researcher to isolate the preference share for each attribute (and create a data-driven idea of what will perform best in the marketplace). A conjoint analysis lets you go into product development with confidence that you’ve identified the preferred features, rather than design a product and hope it finds favor with the target audience or figure out how to market it even if it’s not been optimized for the marketplace. In short, a conjoint analysis can take the guesswork out of development and allow a data-driven strategy from the beginning. This has a domino effect that makes everything from development to launch to marketing easier and more cost efficient.

For example, what if a medical technology company was deciding to design a COVID test, a flu test, or a test that does both? How should they focus their resources? Is the market for COVID tests saturated? Do healthcare providers want home testing for the flu? With a conjoint analysis, we can help answer these questions; we would start by parsing out the attributes to help build the product.

Company A wants to know which test is most popular with healthcare professionals for their patients. They could design a flu test that is covered by insurance, out of pocket, or a combination. It could be offered in retail stores, online, or from a healthcare professional. They could also design a COVID test with these specifications or a flu and COVID test. Once the attributes have been decided, they are presented in different combinations to the respondent to choose. The respondent is asked to choose which product (a different combination of attributes each time) they prefer until they have gone through all the possible combinations. At the end of the exercise, preference share is calculated, and an ideal product can be highlighted for Company A to pursue.

In this example, after running the analysis, healthcare professionals believe that their patients would prefer a test that checks for flu and COVID, is covered by insurance, and is available in retail sites like CVS and Walgreens. This allows Company A to save the time that would come from blindly choosing which avenue to pursue and possibly risk getting it wrong—which could have financial ramifications when they come to market. After all, it’s hard to market a product that isn’t wanted or doesn’t meet the needs of the marketplace. Further analysis can be done once the product is designed and ready to be tested.

CONCLUSION: Market research can provide valuable insights at all phases of the product lifecycle but can really save time and money when it is brought into the conversation from the beginning of ideation.