market research

Market Research vs. Marketing Research- Pharma Viewpoint

There is much discussion about the difference between market research and marketing research. The commonly debated points are: What is a marketing research and market research, or is there any difference between the two? Have you ever thought about it?

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Sometimes both these terms are used interchangeably, but market research and marketing research have some qualities that contrast them. This article will discuss each of the two types and explain the difference between both terms clearly. 

The four Ps of Pharma Marketing

Let us learn the Four Ps of Pharma Marketing (Marketing mix), which would help us distinguish the difference between the terms: market research and marketing research. 

  • 1.  Product (What do you sell- is it a patented brand, branded generics, OTC medicine, or healthcare services?)
  • 2.  Price (how much do you charge the patient or how much the patient pays?)
  • 3.  Place (where do you promote the product? -hospitals (institutions), rural market, or urban market)
  • 4.  Promotion (how do your customers find you? – through prescriptions, TV advertising, at chemist counters)

A marketer (a pharma company or healthcare service provider) needs to understand and utilize these essential key factors to succeed in the marketplace.

What is Market Research- Pharma Perspective?

Market research deals with only one P of Marketing – Place, so it studies a target area (territory). We can say, Pharma Market Research collects data about the pharmaceutical marketplace and the customers (within that marketplace): hospitals, doctors, distributors, and patients.

Market Research

Pharma Market research collects, analyzes, and interprets data about:

  1. That particular segment or market (e.g., specific territories or regional zones).
  2. Medicines or healthcare services to be offered for sale in that market.
  3. Buyers (present, past, and future) of these products (medicines or healthcare services)

In a nutshell, it examines various target market areas: their characteristics, customer requirements, and spending capacities. It can also compare and benchmark with the industry standards and market competition. 

The market research also assesses how viable new products or services are for a chosen target marketplace. It usually helps to tap new target markets and customer requirements.

Let us study a typical flow of the Pharma Market research process. 

  • 1. Problem identification- Identify an issue your customer is facing 
  • 2. Decide who will handle the research (internal teams or an external company)
  • 3. Choose appropriate research techniques
  • 4. Data Collection 
  • 5. Organize, interpret and analyze data
  • 6. Report findings and conclusions. 

What is Marketing Research- Pharma Perspective?

Marketing research is a much broader term and covers different areas. It deals with all four Ps of Marketing (including Place). These are:

business charts
  • Product Research– new product identification and development
  • Pricing Research
  • Market (Place) Research- Customer research, Distribution methods
  • Sales and Promotional Research, Advertising research

Marketing Research is a continuous process, which happens throughout the product lifecycle- starting from the conception of a product, product development, customer acquisition phase, and overall evolution of the product.

Process flow- Pharma marketing research:

Market Research
  1. Problem identification and decision alternatives
  2. Set out research objectives
  3. Develop a research program
  4. Data collection and Analysis
  5. Findings and observations 
  6. Decision making 

Common Objections- Market Vs. Marketing- 4Ps Pharma Perspective

  • Why did your customers choose your product? The answer would guide you to what your customers are looking for. Are your medicines being more effective? Is it the trust and credibility your firm has built over a period? What is it? 
  • What is the problem you need to solve? This will give you an idea of new launches or what your existing product needs to do. E.g., A Pharma company may find many patients having compliance issues with frequent dosages, so how can you solve the problem? Is sustained-release going to be a solution? 
  • How can we make our product better? Step up the performance with product modification or technological advantages. E.g., will the change in packing stop product degradation? Is the fixed-dose combination better than single-dose medications?
  • How do you view your competitor, competing company, and why? Learn from the competition what they are doing- right or wrong? Benchmark against them, do GAP analysis.
Market Research
  • What is your current pricing strategy- Compare with your set of competitors or average industry standard?
  • How sensitive are your customers to price?
  • Price sensitivity- Did you check the highest price that a customer is willing to pay or the lowest price you can afford to sell your product?
  • What would you like to drive: Volumes or value?
  • Where can I find my customer?
  • Marketplace vs. marketspace- where will you sell the product- online or offline (retail chemist counters or institutions)
  • Which distribution channel will you prefer? – direct or indirect.
Market Research
  • From where my customers consume the information? TV, personal selling, from retail outlets or digital platforms.
  • Is there a seasonality impact?
  • What kind of message is effective and well perceived? Is it benefit-driven, economy-driven, or scientific-promotion-driven? 
  • What is the ideal period for promoting your product?
  • How do competitors promote their products? How do they implement plans?

The differences: marketing research Vs. market research

ParametersMarket researchMarketing research
Which P’s of marketingPlaceAll 4 Ps- entire marketing mix
What does it do?Studies the market, buyer’s behavior within that market.All aspects of marketing.
Basis ofMarketing researchMIS- (Marketing Information System)
Scope of researchLimited – it studies only market and consumer behavior. Wide – it studies the entire marketing process, as well as the market itself.
Nature of researchSpecific – This research provides insights into a particular market (that may not apply for other markets). Generic – Identifies marketing problems and issues, finds out the alternate decision, and makes effective decision-making. 
ObjectiveTo check the viability of a product or service in the target market. Helps in informed decision-making about all marketing activities.

The similarities

  • Both processes are crucial for the success of the organization.
  • Helps to analyze and interpret data in a meaningful manner. 
  • Use qualitative and quantitative tools and techniques- such as focus group study, observations, interviews, and market surveys.
  • Helps to take robust decisions- regarding new product (medicines) launch, promotional methods, and advertising medium to be used, choosing an efficient distribution channel. 
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