What to look for in a medical market research agency

Every year, medical device manufacturers spend huge sums on product development. Successful decisions about how that product will look, how it will work, labelling, packaging and price don't happen in a vacuum but are based on hard evidence - or at least, they should be. A market research agency's sole job is to access and communicate that evidence.Gathering customer insight and feedback is no simple task. It requires careful consideration, planning, proficiency in market research methods, and a strong desire to work collaboratively with the end client to fully understand their business objectives. .A good market research agency will help you understand your customers and ultimately make better decisions. But how do you know which agency is right for you? CMR's Research Director, Alper Hulusi, provides some pointers to look for.

Extensive industry experience

Some agencies are generalists, carrying out research in a wide range of product areas; that’s fine if you’re undertaking generic consumer research and want to run a large online survey to understand what people think about your product or brand. But if you operate in a niche area – for example, medical device research – where you need to understand how people interact with your product or understand their purchasing habits, then it makes sense to seek out an agency with extensive experience of your domain.

A responsive approach

Today’s manufacturers need to make quick decisions often to shifting deadlines. It’s important then that the agency you choose is responsive when you get in touch and is able to convey key information quickly, whilst maintaining clarity regarding your business needs.

Flexibility - in price, and approach

A piece of market research is both art and science. As such the best result can only be achieved when your agency offers a bespoke approach, rather than a ‘pick and mix’ from a set of predefined options.

Flexibility among staff is also important. What happens when your ‘single point of contact; goes on vacation or is sick? Having similarly skilled and capable staff working on your project will ensure that you’re not left high and dry when you need it most.

A strong team

Market research can make intense demands on its researchers, both physically and mentally, with overseas travel, long working days and tight deadlines to contend with. Your ideal agency will have a low turnover of professionally minded staff who stay with the company because they genuinely enjoy what they do; who ‘live; rather than simply ‘do’ market research. Check out the agency’s website – you should get a good feel for its employees.

A creative approach

Remember, your market research agency is only as good as their last project, so always ask for references and case-study examples of their work. The team need to convince you that they’re ‘the one’ you can trust and have confidence in. Be clear what their methodological strengths and weaknesses are, and invite the agency to be transparent about their capabilities. Methodological innovation can be great and has its time and place, but don’t lose sight of the merits of traditional, tried and tested research methods. Each methodology has its time and place!

Commercial mindset

Some agencies are great at analysing data, but it’s no good if you need to search for the headlines. A good market research agency will ensure that their report provides clear and actionable insights, that are aligned with your business objectives. Having immersed themselves in your device area, they shouldn’t shy away from providing recommendations (unless you’ve explicitly asked them not to do so). Furthermore the report should communicate with its target audience, whether it’s the CEO, Market Research Manager or Sales Team.

Locality?

An agency that’s based around the corner or a train ride away? It’s a nice to have, but in today’s world, locality is less important. In fact, working with an overseas agency is often a must when expanding into new markets and having an ‘ear on the ground’ will be key to the quality of your final report. To ensure effective communication, look for evidence of a collaborative approach. Their willingness to meet face to face, their ability to share documents and keep you informed at agreed milestones, and their capacity to listen and understand your needs… all these factors suggest the agency might be right for you!

At CMR, we utilise nearly two decades’ market research experience to deliver the insight that you need. To learn more, take a look at this introductory guide or contact us on +44 (0)1473 832211

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