Agency 100 first-timer Magnolia Innovation is almost uniquely focused on a single offering: market research. But cofounding partner Diego Rodriguez is quick to differentiate his shop from everyday, project-based market research companies, the kind that may have a narrower scope of work.

Rather, Magnolia pursues a market research AOR model. In other words, it seeks to present itself as a one-stop shop health and pharma giants can trust with every aspect of market research and strategy, from segmentation to market mapping to understanding the patient journey.

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“The benefit you get from the same agency connecting all the dots throughout your projects is a lot,” Rodriguez notes. “That relationship is very common in advertising, but not in research.”

The approach is driven by 47 staffers (up from 39 at the start of 2021) with a broad range of expertise, ranging from scientific research and development to design, data and analytics. As needed, Magnolia can tap into a network of specialists, including staffers at sister agencies within parent company Medical Knowledge Group.

That gives Magnolia the ability to flex and meet different client needs, “whether that’s being good consultants and translating insights to strategy, being thought leaders and helping publish research study results or putting together workshops and trainings based on market intelligence,” says cofounding partner Ken Howie. “It’s taking research beyond the report and empowering our clients to do more with it.”

By way of example, Rodriguez and Howie highlight a report on how COVID-19 affected trust in the rare disease community, which leveraged connections and insights from Magnolia’s work within the sector (Rodriguez estimates the agency has worked on some 400 projects across 60 rare conditions, including two or three dozen launches, since the firm’s 2013 launch). Among the key findings: Since the outset of the pandemic, patients have less trust in doctors but more in nurses.

The underlying cause, not surprisingly, was discourse around the COVID vaccines. As several patients told Magnolia: “When people talk about the vaccine being 95% effective? Well, I’m in the 5%. I’ve always been in the 5%, and nobody’s talking about that,” Howie explains.

Then there’s the oncology training module the agency developed in conjunction with KOLs. Magnolia realized that while oncology reps are often very well-trained on selling their product, they’re typically less adept at understanding governmental access, technological trends and specific environments.

Rodriguez says the trainings have been “hugely successful” and that Daiichi Sankyo has adopted the model for its oncology reps. “That’s a great win for us,” he adds.

Other client wins last year included Genmab (for epcoritamab, a drug for large B-cell lymphoma), Orchard Therapeutics (two rare disease gene therapies) and a number of brands for Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Revenue grew 31% in 2021, to $18.6 million from $14.2 million in 2020.

“We straddle the lines between strategy, consulting and market research,” Rodriguez says. “That makes us unique.” 

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Bifocal lenses, the invention of which is often credited to Benjamin Franklin. Bifocal lenses not only enable you to see and understand objects and events both near and far, but they also represent a concrete example of a simple tool that enhances people’s lives by addressing a clear, unmet need. Their inventor did not create a tool from scratch, but rather combined existing elements to create a whole that was larger than its parts. The power lies in their simplicity. — Rodriguez