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Can ATUs Sufficiently Track Volatile, Competitive Markets?
By Meghan Oates-Zalesky

Annual or semi-annual “Awareness, Trial, and Usage” (ATUs) studies are important when trying to understand all of your product’s metrics. However, these mammoth surveys aren’t optimal for brands competing in volatile markets.

InCrowd recent surveyed nearly 100 pharmaceutical and life science market research executives regarding their markets, preferences, and challenges in our 2017 State of Life Sciences—Market Research Report. Eighty percent of respondents believe their brand is in a busy, highly competitive market fraught with change.

Often, to be successful in such volatile markets, brands use a hybrid market research strategy: an ATU for annual benchmarking of all operational metrics combined with real-time, frequent micro tracking of a few core KPIs that provide focused market visibility.

This is because ATUs, though rich with metrics, don’t provide you with the necessary post-launch visibility needed to identify an issue in time to react to it. Speed is vital in a volatile market—speed and constant monitoring. The faster a problem is understood, the faster it can be fixed, minimizing the risk to your brand’s success.

That’s why the most successful brands add real-time tracking to aggressively follow their core KPIs, like awareness, efficacy, number of scripts, reactions to the safety profile, the prescribing paradigm, or net clinical benefit, to name a few, across all of the competing brands.

This hybrid approach can be very effective. A few examples demonstrate how brands in volatile markets can benefit from greater visibility with focused, regular tracking:

New Competitive Pressures

Earlier this year a client was worried about losing market share to a new competitor in its biologic space. Our client quickly needed to understand the adoption of the new competitor’s product and monitor it with the same prescribers. InCrowd conducted two research waves, in month one and month four. Each wave was a two-minute micro tracking survey, completed within two days. The client gained several critical, high-quality insights from the research, identifying a 23% increase in adoption for the competition. As a result, they adjusted their approach to the market to differentiate against the competitor more directly.

Monitoring for Actionable Information

One of our clients realized their ATU wouldn’t be able to follow and track metrics post launch with enough immediacy or agility for them to adjust to any market challenges. They didn’t feel confident their ATU would enable them to navigate surprise issues. Their solution was to “pulse” their volatile market in quicker paces, in addition to their ATU. The client conducted 12 monthly research waves, each completed within two days, with 50-targeted oncologists a month. With such regular micro tracking, the client was able to produce a monthly dashboard of KPIs for quick distribution to management. The research also confirmed a positive efficacy-safety tradeoff against a key competitor. By week six, when first-line usage trends dropped, sales reps began to re-emphasize favorable tolerability data in the pitch.

Post-Launch Critical Visibility

When launching a new oncology drug into a volatile market, one of our clients was up against challenger brands with strong efficacy, well-articulated messaging, and growing adoption. The client needed to consistently track a core set of KPIs immediately post-launch to ensure their attack on the market was working and adjust if needed. A micro tracking effort provided a real-time, wave-over-wave tracking solution—and augmented an existing ATU. By focusing on specific KPIs the client was able to identify key advantages over its competition and capitalize on them.

Blended, hybrid methods helps brands in volatile markets navigate the challenges that come with heavy competition. It allows them to get the best of automated, frequent market pulses for core KPIs while using ATUs to obtrain long-term data needs.

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