PM360: ATUs Aren’t Enough—It’s Time to Go Automated

The role of the traditional ATU in a modern-market researcher’s arsenal is changing, and coming under scrutiny. In this PM360 article, Caleb Costa, Chief Commerical Officer at InCrowd, discusses the evolving role of ATUs (Awareness, Trial, Use) as a tool for tracking metrics, but that it may not be enough anymore.

The ATU (Awareness, Trial, Use) is a traditional tracking study that is, and will remain, a necessary tool that provides vital long-term tracking metrics. But it is no longer enough for today’s life sciences market researchers, who need more pertinent data, more often, and in less time.

A strong ATU generally starts with a core set of questions that should take 30-40 minutes for respondents to complete. However, when that ATU mushrooms into a 50 or even 60+ minute survey, you have a problem. Try keeping a physician’s attention—even on a topic they’re passionate about—for 50 minutes. The length of time for optimal survey engagement is 2-7 minutes. Beyond that, consider the likelihood that engagement levels and data quality are both going to suffer.

So, what should one do when more real-time, targeted market research is necessary after the implementation of the ATU? One solution is an integrated approach of both long-term research initiatives and real-time surveys.

Getting Real-time Insights

To be successful in volatile markets, brands often use a hybrid market research strategy: An ATU for bi-annual or quarterly benchmarking of all metrics, combined with monthly real-time micro tracking of a few core KPIs that provide focused market visibility. This is because traditional ATUs, though rich with insights, don’t often provide market intelligence in time to identify and react to potential issues.

Improvements in real-time technology have made this possible and affordable. Technology now exists that allows you to supplement that ATU with “micro tracking” or mini market pulses to the same respondents who complete a traditional ATU. Such mini-market pulses let you pause or start questions, add questions based on market events, exclude previous respondents from upcoming waves, and analyze wave-over-wave of data in real time.

Speed and consistent forward monitoring are critical in volatile markets. The faster a problem is identified and understood, the faster it can be fixed, mitigating the risk to your brand’s successful navigation of a more dynamic healthcare environment. For example, micro-surveys can help a company identify threats. If a company learns from a real-time micro-survey that their customers are more likely to buy the competitor’s product, they can tweak their messaging to better target customers, potentially avoiding or at least limiting losses.

Considering both the staggering cost and probability of failure, the pressure to ensure approved drugs succeed in the market is extremely high. Market visibility to help fend off pitfalls is vital—and doesn’t need to be difficult to access. The key is to choose the combination of methodologies that will allow you to track and quickly identify and respond to market shifts. The new reality is that the needle now moves faster than twice or even four times a year, and the technology now exists to ensure you don’t miss a beat.

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