Vantage Point: shrinking budgets

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Market research is a bit of a dinosaur. With shrinking budgets, merged work forces and the potential threat of unblinding due to reporting requirements, it is a dinosaur with a big bang heading its way. At the same time, the opportunities afforded to provide insight are richer than ever before. Perhaps that which doesn't kill market research will help it evolve?

The traditional notion of a market research shop where teams full of rotation candidates crank out physician-based studies is disappearing. The future of market research lies instead in integrated commercial analytics and strategic planning. With better-than-ever secondary data including medical claims, longitudinal patient data, point-of-contact sales effectiveness tracking, secondary data will no longer be secondary for many brands, even non-retail. Add that to the benefits and richness of new patient insights provided through social networking and patient advocacy. Better tracking of marketing expenses in a test and control environment. More robust management of short-term inventory planning. And to wrap it all up, a growing field of analytics professionals who are in it for the love of analytics.

So while our ability to perform traditional physician-based market research will be hampered by confusion generated by state and federal legislation, growing costs, and shrinking budgets, opportunities do exist. Innovative vendors are growing by leaps and bounds, taking advantage of confusion in the market to make change. And manufacturers are getting creative. After all, if the dinosaurs were still here, we probably wouldn't be.

Elizabeth Jeffords is senior director, market analysis and strategy, at Genentech

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