4 New Strategies Every Healthcare Market Researcher Should Know
By Charu Gupta

The typical healthcare brand spends nearly $2.5 million a year on a variety of tracking market research studies. The list ranges from Awareness, Trial, and Usage (ATU) research on attitudes and perceptions to tracking, adoption and penetration studies. And this doesn’t include the time you spend collecting and analyzing the data. The typical compromise to lower this annual spend is fewer waves and fewer respondents—and fewer insights.

Every few weeks, you emerge dazed and confused from yet another powerpoint presentation with hundreds of slides wondering what was the takeaway, what was the actionable insight? And you decide to wait for the next round to give you what you need. This is the periodic ATU or landscape study—the stuff you are expected to conduct day in and day out and that takes up a large chunk of your time and annual budget, whether you like it or not.

If you find yourself questioning the value and efficacy of this style of research, you are not alone. Market researchers and brand managers across industries are starting to wonder: is there a better, more affordable way?

In recent years, many new, agile market research technologies and approaches have come into the market to make brand marketers rethink the traditional tracking research and how to balance it against shrinking budgets.

Here are four new strategies your toolkit should include if you want to gain efficiencies, get real time flow of information, and quickly and automatically analyze results:

4 New Strategies for Every Market Researchers Toolkit:

  1. Collaboration—Stop asking “how” you’re going to do your research, but rather, with “whom” you’re going to collaborate to get it done. Sharon Callahan, the chief client officer at Omnicom Health Group, describes it as “the art of powerful pairings.” To put together a customer journey, Callahan says, don’t rely on a single research vendor. Instead, imagine what kind of a customer journey you can build for your brand if you engage, for example, qualitative and quantitative approaches, mobile technology, live ethnography, and online community forums.
  1. Microsurveys—You’ve done exhaustive tracking and ATU studies, but questions remain unanswered and new ones keep popping up. Multiple, changing market events keep compromising the original research project. In this modern-day marketing climate, real-time market research is a valuable currency as it shortens the time between asking a question and getting an answer, making the process more flexible. Enter the microsurvey, a short survey with 5-10 questions that typically takes respondents no more than a few minutes to complete. According to the latest GRIT report, nearly all market research clients agree the optimal length of an online survey is 6-10 questions. That explains the industry’s increasing adoption of microsurveys, which went from 25 percent at the end of 2015 to 35 percent by May 2016.
  1. Secondary Data—Large quantities of de-identified, HIPAA compliant databases, also known as secondary data, are available to be mined for insights and hypothesis-driven research. Identify and integrate customer-level data for your target audience and see how well you can understand what’s influencing them and what your opportunities are. In some cases, researchers have refreshed these analytics to mix and match brands and therapy areas to meet their needs and reduce costs by up to 50 percent.
  1. Social ListeningAs of 2015, 76 percent of adult Americans were using social networks and 56 percent of Americans over age 65 are online. For healthcare and pharma marketers, a 2011 study of more than 4,000 physicians revealed that 67 percent used social media for professional purposes.Almost any demographic group you can think of is sharing or following information on just about any topic online. Social data can more quickly serve many of the same functions as traditional market research: it is representative of healthcare stakeholders, provides behavioral perspectives, and offers candid, anecdotal information, and, moreover, it can be sampled via mobile devices during an experience instead of retrospectively through questionnaires.

It’s been noted that only 1 percent on social media are content creators, 10 percent actively post, comment, or share this content, and the rest silently read and absorb. But when you mine the related networks, shared interests, and common influences of all these social players, you begin to harvest invaluable market research details of the entire 100 percent—previously unknown insights for each of your target audiences.

As technology begins to disrupt market research, there are fewer and fewer reasons to spend thousands of dollars on focus groups and lengthy, sporadic surveys when there are so many new approaches to help you find and reach your audience at a fraction of the cost.


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