The Market Research Road Map
At KJT Group, the studies we conduct span product lines and influence the progression of individual products from one stage in the product lifecycle to the next. Given our unique experience in this space, we wanted to share a blinded case study that demonstrates how market research can impact individual products and product lines, as well as some best practices for researchers and medical device manufacturers looking to create a “roadmap” for information gathering and product development (see Figure 1. The Product/Service Lifecycle).
Figure 1. The Product/Service Lifecycle
Our client is a leading manufacturer of surgical equipment, anesthesia systems, and cardiovascular devices, which includes Device A. Device A has been on the market for years, but after sales stagnated, our client decided to re-evaluate Device A’s market position and its potential for other use cases. They were especially interested in one use case: patients re-admitted to the hospital for a particular heart failure (HF) episode (Condition X). Our client wanted to see if they could position Device A to help these patient types.
Study 1: Initial Market Assessment
We conducted a literature review of nearly 90 articles with information from five countries (US, UK, Italy, Germany, and Japan), attempting to determine the size and viability of this market. The results showed:
- Millions of people (depending on the country) experienced Condition X.
- Hospital admissions and the mortality rate associated with Condition X were on the rise.
- Oftentimes, these patients had been admitted to the hospital for Condition X before, which was not addressed well enough by the current standard of care.
This meant there was ample opportunity for Device A to help these patients. Armed with this information, our client decided to continue with the repositioning of Device A.
Study 2: Patient Journey and Potential Uptake
The next piece of information our client needed was the patient journey and potential uptake of Device A in Condition X patients. We conducted 45-minute telephone in-depth interviews with HF specialists and cardiologists to glean this information. The results showed:
- There were no issues/pain points identifying patients with Condition X.
- Patients usually present at the hospital’s emergency department where treatment is initiated by the emergency medicine physicians. The patient’s care is transferred to the Cardiology Department after the patient is admitted.
- Cardiologists tend to follow the guidelines when it comes to treating Condition X, which reserves more invasive options like Device A for the sickest of patients.
This proved to our client that in order for Device A to be used with Condition X patients, clinical trials would need to demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in efficacy over the current standard of care, to justify its invasiveness.
Study 3: Clinical and Economic Value Proposition
We then needed to validate the clinical and economic value proposition for Device A within the client’s target market. We conducted a 30-minute quantitative survey with a choice based conjoint in the US and 60-minute qual/quant web-assisted telephone in-depth interviews in France, Germany, and the UK with physicians and economic buyers to develop a pre-launch strategy for Device A. The results showed that:
- Overall, physicians and economic buyers have a favorable impression of Device A.
- We obtained Device A’s preference share and proved share would be drawn from the current standard of care.
- Price was not going to be a barrier as long as proof of efficacy and safety were provided.
This proved to our client there was a clinical and economic case for using Device A with Condition X patients, and further drove them to pursue a repositioning campaign.
Study 4: Drivers of Device Selection
In addition to repositioning Device A, our client was in the process of developing a new cardiac assist device, Device B. Device B was meant to compliment Device A, but before our client could launch Device B, there were a number of tweaks they needed to work through to ensure a successful launch. The first step was to determine the drivers of cardiac assist device selection so they could make sure Device B included those features. We accomplished this qualitatively through 30-minute web-assisted telephone in-depth interviews with US interventional cardiologists. The results showed:
- The top factors interventional cardiologists consider when selecting a cardiac assist device are ease of use and cardiac output/hemodynamic support.
From these findings, our client sought to optimize and promote how easy to use and how much blood Device B was able to help pump.
Study 5: Initial Pricing
The next step for our client was to get an idea of pricing for Device B. KJT Group’s solution was a 35-minute online survey with interventional cardiologists who were department heads that included a Gabor Granger pricing exercise. The results reiterated what was found while studying Device A:
- Physicians are not very price sensitive when it comes to cardiac assist devices.
This reminded our client that a low price would not encourage physicians to use Device B, only proof of performance and safety related features would do so.
Study 6: Feature Optimization, Cannibalization, and Pricing Validation
The last step was to tie together pricing and feature optimization to ascertain at which price Device B would gain the largest share, and with what features. We also sought to determine how much cannibalization of Device A usage would occur despite Device B being meant to compliment Device A. We obtained this information via another 35-minute online survey with a choice based conjoint with interventional cardiologists. The results confirmed:
- The optimal features and price point matched past research.
- More importantly, the research proved there’d be little to no cannibalization of Device A usage with Device B available.
This gave our client even more confidence in Device B’s features and price and assured them they would not be hurting Device A along the way (see Figure 2. The Evolution of a Product Line).
Figure 2. The Evolution of a Product Line
All of this information was vital to our client in developing a repositioning strategy for their mature Device A and a go-to-market strategy for their new Device B. Market researchers and medical device manufacturers working in similar situations, with product lines or a specific product over a relatively long period of time, should consider the following:
1. Build a research “roadmap” as early as possible. Timing of certain projects should align with product development cycles to ensure you have insights when you need them. Develop contingency plans and be nimble in your set up so you can call a quick audible if needed.
2. Harness previously gathered information. Use it to inform future phases of research to reduce rework and strengthen insights.
3. Be holistic in your approach. Conduct research which includes various perspectives (roles, countries, internal stakeholders) and methods (lit review, qual, quant) – it doesn’t need to happen all at once, but should happen over the lifetime of a product.
It’s not always clear what the next step is from a business strategy or market research standpoint. Viewing a product within the context of its lifecycle is a great way to see the “big picture” and offers a sequential framework for information gathering and business strategy. Contact KJT Group today to learn more about our approach to road mapping market research and product development!