What is Market Research?

Market research and marketing research are often confused and used interchangeably.

Market Research: Determination and assessment of qualitative and quantitative dimensions of a market

Marketing Research: Analysis of the effects of various marketing activities of a company or its competitors.

How market research helps in Pharma marketing & sales?

Environmental scanning:

–        Physicians
–        Pharmacists
–        Pharmacies
–        Hospitals

  • Data gathering and analysis
  • Influence of unique aspects of the pharmaceutical market on market research:

–        Known list of entities
–        Knowledge-based decisions
–        Similarities in education and thinking (professionalization)
–        Availability of records for transactional activity

  • Significant use of outside vendors for market research

–        Syndicated services
–        Custom services

Questions Answered by Market Research

Strategic Level:

–        What diseases or product areas should be considered for long-term investment?
–        Short-term?
–        Market size or potential?
–        Availability and utilization of therapies?
–        Next logical steps in therapy?
–        Potential market segments to be exploited:

  • Disease conditions (e.g., migraine sufferers)
  • Dosing preferences (inhalants vs. injections vs. patches)

–        Prevalence of disorder?
–        Shared conditions?
–        Potential development partners?
–        Potential acquisitions?

  • Clinical trial Planning:

–        Seasonality
–        Regionality
–        Specialty
–        Premarketing Planning:
–        What physician specialties are important in a given therapy or diagnosis?
–        What patient characteristics are important?
–        Who are our competitors in this market?
–        How do our competitors promote their product?
–        Are there unsatisfied portions of the market?
–        How do physicians perceive a proposed product?

Questions Answered by Market Research

Post-marketing Monitoring:

–        Adverse events
–        Product sales
–        Patient information (medical history)

This can be critical in product defense situations!  Example: Pfizer’s defense of Viagra when suits were filed alleging an increased risk of stroke.

Types of Market Research


Retail Pharmacy Purchases:

  •  Measures the “inflow” of products from the manufacturer to the pharmacy
  • OTC
  • Prescription drugs
  • Indirect (through wholesalers)
  • Direct purchases from manufacturers

Hospital Purchases:

Growth of pharmaceutical purchases by hospitals has greatly exceeded purchases from pharmacies on a proportional basis. In many communities, the hospital has become more important in routine care.

  • Measures the “inflow” of products from the manufacturer to the hospital
  • OTC
  • Prescription drugs
  • Indirect (through wholesalers)
  • Direct purchases from manufacturers

Warehouse Withdrawals

Can be valuable in dealing with questions of individual territory performance and potential or different selling techniques

  • Measures the “outflow” of products from the warehouse to all purchasers

–        OTC
–        Prescription drugs)

  • Does not reflect direct purchases from manufacturers
  • Provides ability to analyze small segments of the marketplace such as zip code or territories

Retail Pharmacy Prescriptions

  • Measures the “outflow” of prescription drugs from the pharmacy to consumers
  • Most sensitive indicator of prescription product performance (factual)
  • Reflects mindset of prescribers and consumer demand
  • Best indicator of marketing or promotional effort effectiveness
  • Data available at national and sub-national levels

Physician Panels

  • Specialized research services to identify patient product usage along specific variables:

–        Diagnosis
–        Patient characteristics
–        Location of visit
–        Drugs used
–        Action desired from drugs used

  • Tracking of new prescriptions over time and monitors changes in doctor prescribing habits

Retail Pharmacy Sales

  • Historically used for non-prescription pharmaceuticals
  • Data typically collected for products of interest
  • Collect unit and dollar information at the package size level
  • Main use is to obtain prescription counts by product
  • Used for pricing analysis and cross-tabulation analysis using data warehouses

Promotional Media

  • Monitoring of detailing visits to physicians by sales representatives
  • Monitoring of journal advertising
  • Monitoring of direct mail advertising
  • Physician sampling

Stages of Market research



Dipesh Majumder

Dipesh Majumder

Chief Evangelist at Medismo PharmaSoft
I am a Marketing Technologist, a strategist & a visionary with over 8 years of experience in traditional & digital marketing. I have been responsible for the development & execution of sales force effectiveness strategies, tools, processes for global Pharma sales organizations. Lead key initiatives, critical projects & continuous improvement activities.

Chennai, India ·
Dipesh Majumder