This division of a major medical device manufacturer produces equipment used in various ophthalmologic surgical procedures. They are one of only a handful of competitors in a market where competitors continually find ways to leapfrog one another with new and better products and features. While they are almost always a number one or two player, their need to innovate is a constant and never-ending challenge.
What We Did
Applied Marketing Science (AMS) was engaged to conduct a global Voice of the Customer study to provide the key supporting data for their latest strategic planning initiative. A key question that they needed to answer was whether to invest in a new technology that was already beginning to emerge in the marketplace – an investment that would require huge resources, both financial and human. Our study was conducted with ophthalmologic surgeons in seven different countries across North America, Europe, and Asia. In addition to a focus on the equipment itself, we also spent significant time talking about the entire journey for both the patient and the physician.
The study revealed some highly unexpected results. First, there was little enthusiasm for the new technology, not so much for technical reasons as for its likely negative economic impact on all concerned. Second, there was a high degree of satisfaction with most of the existing products in the marketplace – both our client’s and the competitors’ – offering very little upside for any improvements they envisioned. But somewhat surprisingly, the biggest unmet needs had to do with the preoperative diagnostic and planning process. These measurements were often time-consuming and imprecise, and had an even greater impact on outcomes than most of the surgical equipment. This insight literally transformed the company’s entire product development strategy, redeploying their research and development resources toward a very different set of problems. And as they went on to estimate the financial impact of this change in strategy, they realized that solving this set of problems would have a broad impact on many other ophthalmologic conditions beyond just these immediate surgical uses.