Blending R&D with Market Research Helps Consumer Acceptance

20 Feb

By Tom Crosby, Marketing Manager, LSN

Being the first to market with a new product is beneficial for several reasons: it positions your firm an innovator, makes rapid market penetration possible, and gives your brand an advantage in developing a positive image. However, this can be a potentially precarious situation as well, because speed to market is a function of the overall quality of research, development, and testing that goes into your product. The companies that are adroit and forward-thinking in all phases of development are the market winners.

While all biotech firms are subject to the timelines of clinical trials, the fact remains that the longer it takes for you to get your product to the public, the more market share your competition may eat up. This is true for the whole life science sector; whether you work for a pharmaceutical company developing a new drug, a medical technology firm bringing an innovative device to market, or a service provider with next generation technology platform. Simultaneously, taking time and care to ensure successful completion of trials with a market-beating product is critical to long term success. As in life, paradox exists, but never should be a barrier.

Even if your firm has the potential to successfully beat competitors to market, there are many other pitfalls associated with the launch of a new product. One of these is the high cost of the R&D and testing phases. Regardless of how innovative your product is, if capital is managed inefficiently during the rocky road towards market, your firm (and in turn the product) is doomed to fail. Then there is failure of design. If, during the research phase, your firm has neglected to fully examine a stragtegic approach to trials. A common misstep in toxicology for example, is passing trials based on low-efficacy dosages, sabotaging future success.

One way that R&D departments in life science firms reduce the risk of developing a certain product is by using the information available from third party data providers. If your firm can gather an accurate sense of its competition in the market, from the very beginning of the ideas phase, your team will be ahead of the game. This is because without some idea of the state of your marketplace, you may overestimate or underestimate the uniqueness of your product.  While this may seem like an obvious situation to avoid, what we see every day in our research of the marketplace tells a different story – that there are literally thousands of emerging biotech companies, some with little to no visibility on a global scale. For this reason, database services take the guesswork out of devising successful strategies around product development. Furthermore, by having in-depth details on the firms working with the same conditions, your organization gains all sorts of advantages, from how to distinguish yourself from rest of the marketplace, to how to best position your product when it finally does hit market readiness.

Another method for reducing product risk that is coming into favor in life science market research is the idea of using focus groups. Focus groups have been widely employed in other areas of business, but the idea is relatively new to the life science space. This is largely due to the fact that it is very difficult to incentivize a live meeting with a group of scientists in such a way that your firm can make it worth their while. However, with the increasing speed and ubiquity of telepresence providers, life science firms can feasibly collect a quorum of scientists for useful, compelling market research. This is perhaps the very best way to reduce product risk when going to market; by hearing directly from the groups that will be putting your products to use, your firm is able to cater to their needs as early as the idea stage. Historically, smaller firms were priced out of this advanced type of research. However, with the tools available today, virtually any biotech is able to compete on the market, regardless of size.

While speed to market is extremely important, with a little bit of foresight, a firm can source research and development with certainty at a cost that was not feasible until fairly recently. If done correctly, using these methods in conjunction with others, it is even possible to minimize risk while streamlining your product’s time to the marketplace.

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