Life Science Market Research: 10 Ways to DIY

It was clear from the Biotech Marketing Network’s recent survey of life science marketers that they are dissatisfied with their ability to perform market research. As mentioned in this month’s KOL Corner, in addition to outsourcing to a high quality firm, it’s important that market research is an on going in—house process. Here are some references to help biotech marketers tackle market research in a cost and time effective manner.

    1. Published reports . There are many existing reports for which summaries are free (sometimes you need to request a sample), or which are completely free. Trade associations often review employment and technology trends. Always consider the sources when viewing free reports, as some organizations may skew data in their favor depending on their goals. See the table below for sources for free reports or summaries.
    2. Sources for DIY Market Research
      Source Link
      Biocom California Trade Organization: Economic Impact Reports
      BioInformatics LLC Specialized to life science tools & some clinical leaning reports
      Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) Biotechnology Trade Organization: Clinical/biopharma leaning
      CLSA California Trade Organization: Various Reports
      Decibio Specialized to life science tools and diagnostics
      Ernst & Young Yearly Beyond Borders report
      Frost & Sullivan Various life science/clinical reports
      Markets & Markets A clearinghouse of market research reports, some outdated
      Mass Bio Massachusetts Trade Organization: Industry Snapshots
      Percepta Specialized to life science tools
      Price Waterhouse Cooper Various (pharma leaning)
      The Scientist Yearly top 10 Innovations
    3. Do quick polls . Market research doesn’t have to be a daunting task, you can get quick answers to questions your team has with quick polls using email providers such as Constant Contact. You may have even seen that some companies use popups on their website to gauge satisfaction through the Net Promoter Score (NPS) question. Not only will you get information, you’ll be engaging your customers as well as segmenting them. Even with the NPS poll, you’ll be able to find champions for your products as well as those who need some TLC.
    4. Co opt a mailing list . Some life science publications will either let you rent their mailing list, or develop a survey with you. This tactic will likely save you some money, but make sure your survey is designed to elicit both the quality and quantity responses you need. If possible, ask to send to a sample first to ensure success.
    5. Focus group your next event . Are you hosting a workshop, social event, or exhibiting at a conference? Use the opportunity to query attendees or leads about their needs. For free events, registrants will likely answer a few questions while filling out the form. Get creative at events and stimulate discussion about your products with games and giveaways.
    6. Leverage your mailing list . Depending on the size and quality of your mailing list, you can perform surveys on your own with a simple e-blast and software such as SurveyMonkey. Experiment with messaging and giveaways until you get a statistically significant number of responses, which is usually starts at between 50 and ideally 100 for online surveys. Some market research firms will publish the questions they ask in surveys, so look for these to get a head start on your survey. Additionally, be sure to ask questions that will help you to segment your database as well so that you can send more targeted communications in the future.
    7. Ask for cheaper options . Life science market research firms have specialized and also benefited from survey technology and available data, and they may be able to offer more affordable options. I remember 10+ years ago we hired a big name market research provider and we wrote all the questions for them and they still charged $30K! Surely they could not get away with that these days. BioInformatics, LLC provides a reasonably priced “rate my product” option. You can also let the smaller and more specialized market research firms what type of a report you’re looking for, and they may be able to include the data in one of their upcoming off the shelf reports.
    8. Hire scientist interviewers . Scientists are often eager to get exposure to industry, and they of course are very knowledgeable about the latest technologies. If you are looking for phone interviews, hire a PhD scientist to interview customers or leads. Of course, be very clear with the guidelines, questions, and deliverables you expect from them, as they may not be used to working in a corporate environment.
    9. Look internally. Your company has data on what customers want through web and google analytics. What search terms are they using to find your site, are there any surprises? Are they looking for downstream or upstream products which could be product extensions? Are they spending time on certain product pages, but not purchasing them, indicating that the product doesn’t fully meet their needs?
    10. Incentivize your team. There are people at your company who talk to your customers, and potential customers, daily, most notably the technical service and sales teams. Some marketing departments request that the sales team all ask their customers a single question each month, and the sales team can report back in their monthly report. Create a short poll for your sales team to either fill out themselves, or have customers fill out on an iPad, to get a quantitative summary of the results.
    11. Public data & analysis . With some clever data analysis, you can extrapolate to get the numbers you need. Let’s say a free market report summary says that the market for a product is $500 million and growing at 5% per year. You then look at a public company’s SEC filings and listen to their earnings report, and determine that their sales for this product are $100 million, and growing at 10% per year. You then know that they have 20% of the market and are taking market share. It takes some legwork, and luck, but it’s possible. Also don’t underestimate the knowledge of your team. Although confidentiality agreements should be honored, you never know what knowledge your team may have (legal) access to.

    This post originally appeared on the Biotech Marketing Network.

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