A Pre-Launch Marketing Research Primer for Healthcare Products and Services

September 28, 2007 (PRLEAP.COM) Health News
Jack M. Shapiro, Principal Consultant for J.M. Shapiro Healthcare Marketing Research and Consulting, provides a succinct series of pre-launch market research steps for healthcare products and services. Companies such as his provide clients these types of research in the fields of prescription and non-prescription pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, supplies and devices, hospitals, managed care, homecare, diagnostics, clinical research organizations, advertising agencies, branding specialists, and venture capitalists.

One needs to begin with the market research data that’s available. Have you thoroughly scoured all pertinent secondary market research data (also known as retrospective data) relevant to your new market entry? This would include market audits, industry and government sources, articles in the lay, business and industry press. How large is the market (dollars, units, patients, prescriptions, patient visits, etc); what are the trends; who are the big players likely to be your competitors? Who are the heavy users of products in this category? What types of data are not obtainable from secondary sources that will require a comprehensive pre-launch survey research program?

A core pre-launch survey (prospective) research program for a new product or service would begin with preliminary focus groups to ascertain attitudes about the existing market and the need for new products; obstacles to market entrance; sources of awareness of new products.

Once you’ve achieved this general market overview, you can target specific areas of inquiry for more detailed one-on-one in-depth interviews to elicit even great levels of information. You might use this occasion to test preliminary product positioning concepts.

But everything so far has either been based on secondary and or qualitative sources. You now need to quantify market segments and understand the competition within those segments. This will require a large-scale quantitative market segmentation and competitive positioning study to continue to understand and validate the need for your new entrant and the strengths and weaknesses of products/services you’ll be competing against. How do today’s competitors stack up against each other? Where are the remaining market needs and how can you fill them?

Hopefully the new product or service will reach the stage where qualitative or quantitative concept testing can occur. This consists of testing one or more simple descriptions of YOUR product or service based on all the clinical and market research findings you’ve acquired to-date. Which description best depicts the type of product physicians or other users still need and why? Which products/services will it replace or be additionally used? Where does your product/service fit in the market?

Your next step is to develop that concept into a promotional prototype with graphics and headlines, sub-heads, taglines and test it. Sometimes full copy is used as text; on other occasions “greeking” is used to suggest where copy will fit. This could be an all-purpose prototype to be later converted into launch advertising, direct mail pieces, sales/detailing literature or the basis for any type of print or TV promotion.

These are the core pre-launch market research services usually conducted with medical professionals. Depending upon the situation, there are many other research steps that could be taken before launch such as: trademark research, package testing, taste testing, price elasticity studies, managed care evaluations, many forms of media and consumer research.

The risks associated with new product launches are high, the failure rate is enormous, and the market research required for success is quite technical and should only be conducted by professionals skilled in this field.


Jack M. Shapiro is an internationally-known healthcare marketing researcher, consultant, futurist, broadcast journalist and public speaker.

Jack includes among his clients major companies in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and insurance companies, advertising agencies, hospitals, and manufacturers of medical equipment, supplies and devices. Often quoted in the healthcare industry, general business, and lay publications, Jack has been a frequent guest on national television (ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, FOX, PBS and abroad on BBC and ITN) and radio as a commentator on healthcare trends and politics in the United States and overseas.

From 1997-1999, he was the host of “MEDI-POLITICS,” a nationally-syndicated radio show focusing on the politics and future of healthcare as well as key legal and ethical issues. The show reached more than 40 markets in 26 states (31 million people in-audience) and around the world on the internet.

Jack has spent 40 years in the healthcare field, both in the U.S. and abroad. Before forming his successful research and consulting company, he held high-level management positions in marketing and market research with healthcare giants such as Wyeth and Pfizer.

He is currently writing a book about the future of American healthcare based on his long experience in the healthcare industry, in-depth interviews with leading experts who appeared on his radio show as well as on-going poll results generated by his market research company.

Recently Jack was the event host and master-of-ceremonies at the “Global Pharma R&D Summit,” attended by over 250 top pharmaceutical scientists from around the world. Jack is also available to speak and write on future healthcare trends and is well-known keynote speaker.
P.O. BOX 1025
Maywood, NJ 07607
Phone: 201-441-9815
Web site: www.JackShapiro.com

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