What is the situation for medical technology companies concerning their strategic marketing? And which weaknesses can be converted to potential? The authors of the "Third Medical Technology Marketing Monitor" give specific recommendations.
The German and international medical technology markets are most lucrative. They are, however, also extremely complex and are continuously changing. This is why it is even more important to consistently improve strategic marketing when launching innovative medical products and to respond creatively and flexibly to changes. As a cooperation partner of Devicemed, the initiators of this year's "Medical Technology Marketing Monitor", Maria Klaas (Klaas Consulting), Sherille Veira-Schnitzler (Healiz) and Monika Wisser (Dreifach) make specific recommendations on the basis of survey results.
This is the first time that more than 100 marketing managers have taken part in the survey. Market observations are a relevant control element in the strategic marketing activities of just under 90 percent of all the respondent companies. They are carried out every six to twelve months. The focus is on the current competitive and price situation and on a general demand analysis. Little attention is given to developments in the corporate environment, to a current course of treatment and to product authorisation regulations. More than 30 percent of the respondent companies are not satisfied with the further use of data that has been collected.
Recommendation: Even if it is essential to consistently keep an eye on competitors and prices, there is nevertheless not much scope for taking influence or shaping developments in this respect. Strategic marketing can be made far more effective and sustainable with demand-related data and knowledge about the latest legal and corporate basic conditions.
The reimbursement of expenses is apparently becoming less relevant in strategic planning: more than 25 percent of the companies said that it was less important or no longer important at all. This also matches the conclusion that medical products are all reimbursed with only 23 percent of the companies nowadays. However, acceptance of medical products by doctors and hospitals frequently requires the reimbursement of expenses. For this reason it is likely that more than 40 percent of the respondent companies are dissatisfied with the level of internal knowledge on cost reimbursement, and they thus see a clear potential for optimisation in this case.
Recommendation: The reimbursement of medical products by legal and private health insurance companies can be a real competitive edge nowadays. Those who bear these possibilities in mind at an early stage and respond to various market and legislative developments will therefore have an edge over those who do not.
Developing and reviewing strategies is important for virtually all the respondent companies. This is why almost 80 percent of the companies carry out half-yearly or yearly strategy meetings with the management and the sales, the marketing and in some cases the research and development departments. The main focus in this case is on product positioning, on targeting specific groups and on sales strategies. Cost reimbursement, production and communication are matters that are hardly included. Just over 35 percent of the companies are however not satisfied with how strategies are implemented.
Recommendation: Product positioning and sales strategies should rather be specified long-term and only slightly checked or adjusted in short cycles. Suitable marketing control instruments need to be put in place in order to assess their effectiveness. Product positioning and sales strategies should be backed up with corresponding communication with the target group. In this case it is important to bear in mind cost reimbursement and production in terms of the latest legislative developments in order to be able to respond quickly in these areas.
Even today communication measures are planned in the short term or on a half-yearly basis in almost 55 percent of all the companies. As part of a product launch, priority is given to the questions of target group definition and evaluation, as well as to a general communication strategy and a specific campaign strategy. On the other hand, many companies consider campaign-related controlling to be less important or not important at all. Companies currently see the greatest potential for optimisation in a general communication strategy, in more customer involvement and in controlling. The focus of communication is on events and direct marketing, just as it was two years ago. Social media has gained only little in significance compared to 2012, even though potential for optimisation is clearly identified.
Recommendation: Communication should be modernised and planned in the long term. The focus should shift clearly to customer integration with the help of electronic media and to a continuous review of communication measures by way of corresponding controlling tools – while at the same time taking account of an overall strategy and of adapting this strategy.
The German medical technology market is characterised by robust export business. More than 38 percent of the companies generate from 25 percent to more than 50 percent of their turnover abroad – usually with products in need of explanation. The most important markets are countries in Western Europe, the G4 countries Germany, Brazil, India and Japan, and countries in Eastern Europe. More than 30 percent of the respondent companies also export to Turkey, China, Russia and the Middle East, as well as to the USA and Canada. Countries under a Western influence, such as Western Europe, the USA, and Australia and New Zealand frequently have their own sales offices. Sales to other export countries are predominantly transacted by way of exclusive sales partnerships. The majority of respondents is satisfied with the existing sales control processes, but they do see potential for optimisation. The important control systems are: dividing up sales regions, customer analyses and segmentation, and sales statistics.
Recommendation: International business is complex and requires that suitable partners be selected, particularly concerning sales strategies for exclusive sales partnerships. It is vital to gain in-depth knowledge of the market and an overview of suitable distributors. These distributors can be selected and verified according to the market segments that are addressed. This saves valuable time due to changes to sales.[Back]