What Life Sciences Market Researchers Wish They Could Invest In and Why
By Charu Gupta

 If you’re a market researcher in today’s healthcare and life sciences industries, rapid change is the new normal. From the drug discovery pipeline, to technology and IT, to government policies, keeping up with what’s next is perhaps the biggest challenge.

In a survey InCrowd conducted last year with life sciences market researchers, many told us they were willing to experiment with newer ways of finding insights that impact business decisions, help improve patients’ lives, and keep up with project timelines—and the market.

We did the same survey again this year to learn more about what life sciences market researchers are thinking and hoping for as their field evolves and as they grapple with lack of resources, red tape, and rapidly shifting market forces.

Our 2017 State of Life Sciences Market Research Industry Report outlines complete findings, and this article focuses on what researchers told us about their actual and desired areas for research investments.

Social media analytics and big data were big categories for investment, with 44% already using social media analytics and 38% using big data programs. Forty-three percent are currently investing in online communities.

Big data is definitely an area to watch closely, as it has gone from a buzzword to a core pillar of how big pharma companies and health systems think about improving patient outcomes and reducing costs.

An article by McKinsey and Company, “How big data can revolutionize pharmaceutical R&D,” describes the potential—and why marketers and market researchers are (wisely) putting their investments here. Complex and fast-paced businesses generate data in large volume and from multiple sources, including R&D, retailers, patients, and providers. “Effectively utilizing these data will help pharmaceutical companies better identify potential drug candidates and develop them into effective, approved and reimbursed medicines more quickly.”

McKinsey estimates that decision-making based on big-data tactics could result in $100 billion in U.S health savings a year “by optimizing innovation, improving the efficiency of research and clinical trials, and building new tools for physicians, consumers, insurers, and regulators to meet the promise of more individualized approaches.”

One implication of this sort of big data approach for life sciences market researchers is the integration of multiple types of research data. For example, quantitative survey data, qualitative interview research, and third-party data like social media feeds, or internal data are all housed in disparate places. There is technology being developed today that will eventually tie all these sources together for a fuller and more holistic view of a patient or provider.

Tracking studies was another category of note in our survey. Forty-four percent of respondents said they are currently investing in traditional tracking studies. However, only 17% said they wished to invest in traditional tracking studies. When asked about modern, automated tracking studies, 31% said they wish they could invest in this type of technology (versus 15% saying they already were).

This suggests that traditional tracking studies could be part of more legacy-style investments that might be phased out as newer methodologies and more savvy, experimental mindsets emerge in the life sciences market research industry.

Interestingly, 62% of market researchers said they wish they could invest in behavioral analytics. Only 23% said they actually are. Behavioral analytics is a form of predictive analytics, and allows researchers to use actual or real-time behavior to determine future actions. It is an extremely powerful use case in the consumer world, and healthcare market researchers are rightfully eager to learn more about how they can apply this methodology to their industry.

Other technologies life sciences market researchers say they wish they could invest in include text analytics (42%) and automated, mobile qualitative surveys (38%).

All these unique market research solutions are useful techniques that have been tried, and some tested, in the consumer world. Our most recent survey tells us that today’s life sciences market researchers are doing their homework and discerning the hype from sound and innovative methodologies best suited to their industry.

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