Concept testing is a fundamental Marketing Research methodologyprimarily used to assess customer feedback onnew product/service ideas or concepts. It is a great evaluation tool to determine whether a company should move forward with a product idea or not. It also highlights what features/benefits resonate with your customers the most (i.e., value drivers) and what you can improve. At Cetas-Healthcare, we regularly collaborate with MedTech companies on testing their next-generation medical devices, products, and services to gather actionable insights. In the last five years, we have tested over 150+ NPIs across several markets.
This article will focus on the 5 most common key areas where we see MedTech companies struggle when developing their concepts and how they can improve across some of the standard concept testing metrics of appeal, relevance, credibility (believability), uniqueness and purchase interest. Companies commonly struggle in the following areas:
If your concept does not solve unmet needs or provide relevant solutions based on prior research or data, then rethink your methodology as your concept should meet unmet customer needs. Concepts should provide relevant and measurable solutions to clinicians, health systems, and patients. For example, will it significantly improve patient outcomes, reduce hospital costs, or improve workflow?
Your product features and value propositions should provide solutions that drive physician or patient usage. The research ideally validates why clinicians and patients would use your device or product. Use past research or market drivers to build the foundation of your concept.
We recommend doing exploratory, qualitative research prior to the concept test. This helps to identify the most important attributes and drivers of your concept from a customer’s perspective.
Concept tests should be done to test the appeal of well-developed ideas and technologies before they are launched. For instance, medical devices that typically score well on appeal, have features or attributes that address physician unmet needs, drive usage, and have been pre-tested with a subset of KOLs. The concept test should simply be quantifying how appealing the concept is to the market. To make your concept MORE appealing include the following:
Pre-test your concept’s appeal with a subset of key stakeholders before you test it with the broader market. Physician Business Advisory Boards that use your device or system as well as that of your competitors are a great forum to test your ideas.
Make sure you have well-developed and testable concepts before presenting them to your healthcare stakeholders. It’s a best practice at Cetas to make sure we have run the concepts with our panel of expert physicians and clinicians before we test it in the market.
Provide an image when possible. Concepts are easier to visually conceptualize.
Make sure your concept has a title and product description that includes the features, attributes, and clear specifications.
Provide clear and scientific value propositions for your concept, i.e. better clinical outcomes, reduction in procedure times, improved workflow efficiency, clinician or patient emotive or functional elements, etc.
Give assumptions where possible. For instance, will a new implantable device be reimbursable, is there a technical and professional fee, and which patient population will be indicated?
Concepts that lack differentiation and do not clearly articulate benefits score lower on uniqueness. As you think through your product specifications, highlight the parameters of your product that are differentiating so it is easy for physicians and key stakeholders to quickly discern what is different about your product/system compared to your competitors. Having comprehensive competitive intelligence to find out what your competitors are doing is important. Cetas can help you with competitive landscaping and understanding the market trends and what your competitors are doing.
Check your concept features and attributes against your competitors and the market and highlight what is new or unique. Your features and attributes should address unmet market needs from prior research. Clinicians typically want solutions that provide better clinical outcomes, are less invasive, and give optimal patient outcomes.
When possible, provide a triangular approach to your solution and think about how it affects all stakeholders, i.e., physicians, administrators, and patients.
Although you can’t give claims on any clinical data, be clear about what your solutions provide, i.e., better imaging, patient optimization.
It’s important that your concept is believable and can be supported by clinical evidence should it move into the development stage. Know the most pertinent or important clinical proxies to include and information that supports your product. Use the concept test as an opportunity to collect information on the clinical evidence that would be needed to move physicians into becoming early adopters or users of your new device or system.
Understand what clinical barriers there may be for your product.
Verify what other endpoints or information is needed for usage and adoption and how easy it will be to adopt your system. For instance, will clinicians need to change their workflow, need to collaborate with other physician stakeholders, and can patients be discharged same day?
It’s important to be neutral and objective when highlighting the features, capabilities, and benefits of your concept. Avoid trying to “sell” the concept to the respondents.
Do not shy away from highlighting any limitations or constraints of the proposed concept. Respondents appreciate that and will provide more realistic feedback. Sometimes, we notice that clients try to overpromise on the concept which can be misleading in your product development and launch strategies.
Create neutral concepts by highlighting the specifications without using language that sells the product such as “best”, etc.
Get additional feedback on how you can improve your product based on what customers dislike.
If you want to have a discussion on any of these topics, feel free to contact us. And, do let us know your thoughts as well. Cetas Healthcare is one of the largest MedTech market research firms in the world and has worked with MedTech leaders on many primary research studies, mapping outpatient care pathways across therapy areas and flagging unmet needs that can be addressed by medical technology and digital innovation.