Using a medical device-focused research agency for creative testing

After spending a number of years in consumer and media quantitative market research, CMR's Associate Director, Matt has spent the last 2 years working in the medical device sector. Whilst skill-sets clearly cross over and there are many benefits to adopting a consumer view on the medical device world, there are fundamental factors that make the medical device sector unique, underlining the importance of using the correct agency for the job. Matt outlines 3 areas for how creative testing within the medical device sector differs and what steps you can take to ensure marketing creative is effective.

1. Medical devices are not consumer goods

While consumer based models are useful, it is important to think about medical device users differently. Whilst we are seeing increasing levels of patient pro-activity in device choice, look at the contrast with consumer technology where a user chooses to adopt vs. a medical device providing essential treatment. Consumers dissatisfied with their smartphone, for example, will be all too ready to churn and invest in different devices. Conversely, dissatisfied medical device users are often less open to change. However, those users that engage with their medical device are better informed and more positive and our research suggests they are likely to be ready to try something new if it can offer even better management of their condition. These nuances do not make the sectors completely different, and you could choose to overlook them, but this knowledge provides context for effective analysis and better interpretation of the results.

2. The patient is only one facet of the arrangement

Often, there are multiple audiences with different views on the pathway to medical device adoption. For a device even to be available the health authority has needs to be met, the prescribing doctor has another set of requirements and again the patient does too. For marketing creative to be effective, the key messages need to resonate with these different audiences. You might need to communicate to a patient that your device is discreet to use and available on insurance whilst a doctor may only prescribe if they are certain the patient will understand the device and be adherent.

At each stage there are separate needs that effective marketing should address. Assessing marketing creative for these different audiences, involves understanding the balance between those involved. Familiarity with these audiences and their specific requirements is absolutely essential for a research study to be properly designed and carried out.

3. Finding the right participants is critical to success

Having discussed the challenges of properly identifying your audiences and their needs, the final aspect is a logistical one; having the resources to reliably find these people across multiple countries. Finding patients with specific conditions that consider or use a very specific device, or professionals with certain decision making responsibilities in a healthcare setting is a challenge to be taken seriously. The emphasis here needs to be placed on realistic specification writing, innovative recruitment methods and clear communication throughout fieldwork.

These points suggest creative testing in the medical sector cannot be carried out with a one size fits all methodological approach. Knowledge of the sector and its audience is essential to designing a study that will meet the clients’ objectives and deliver meaningful insights.


Author: Matt Bowles