Market Research without Breaking Your Budget
If you’ve ever worked at a medtech startup, you’ve experienced this dilemma firsthand. You need reputable market data to substantiate your pitch to investors and to adopters and influencers of your technology, but you have a limited budget. Analyst reports are expensive so ideally, you are looking for quality data that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
To tackle this problem, let’s go back to basics and consider the Five Ws to help you find your solutions.
Are you preparing a pitch to investors? Do you need data for discussions with hospitals or physicians? Are you preparing for a market launch? Why you need the data you’re seeking can help you weigh the costs/benefits for potentially paying for it, and it should drive your decisions on what you need. If you are talking to investors, they expect to see data from high-quality sources, such as analyst reports, DRG (formerly Millenium Research Group), etc. And you should include a few sources to show that your market information is consistent across reports, that you are not cherry-picking data from a single source.
Do you know anyone who has the information you need? Sometimes a board member, company advisor, or industry mentor may have some or all of what you are seeking. If your need is relatively defined and narrow, I’ve found you can get help from people in your network. For example, if you’re looking for some specific analysis of one competitor, or epidemiology statistics on overall disease burden. Ask people you trust for input.
What do you truly need? Is it epidemiology? Competitive landscape? Revenue forecast and growth? Global vs. domestic? Pricing and reimbursement? Procedural growth? While it can feel like you need EVERYTHING, carefully consider which components are most important.
You can typically identify the market size, procedural data, and disease burden from peer-reviewed clinical journals. Sometimes there are consensus statements published in a medical specialty every few years – look at professional medical societies to have those available on their websites. There are also many open-access journals where you can download articles at no charge (PLOS Medicine, DovePress, and Sage Publishing) and you will often find some free content available from high-profile journals.
There are also nonprofit industry reports and government statistics from Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), or Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (HCUP), and Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ). Although government sources are always a few years behind and don’t show projected market potential, they can help you get started.
If you’re researching a specific company, you can find public company data through SEC filings. And when private companies raise money, they must disclose that through Form D filings. Medtech industry publications and local news outlets are also good resources for company milestones around financing.
In addition to the government and journal sources, consider the vast menu of market research available in other formats. Always check websites for professional medical societies in your clinical discipline; they often cite procedural and epidemiological data.
Consider industry sources such as AdvaMed, which publishes its own research on a variety of topics.
Another source is known companies participating in the space you’re researching – public companies will place investor presentations and earnings call transcripts/webcasts on their website.
Always try Google searches for additional information but remember to consider the source and date of the material. You can occasionally find a good nugget of credible data. For example, Ernst & Young issues a “Pulse of the Industry” in selected segments – I discovered this through a simple online search. In my experience, Google searches are best for company announcements on fund raising and other milestones.
Finally, don’t overlook a local university library. You won’t be able to download and take the data with you, but you might find selected data points that will allow you to source your data and projections, all with a few hours of research. You also have staff librarians that can assist you.
My final piece of advice on “when” focuses on purchasing market research – when should you bite the bullet and spend the money?
The most important thing to remember is that analyst reports and other market research are products; and that product is always negotiable. If you are a startup, ask for a discount; they will come down in pricing. You can also ask about getting a specific portion of their report for a much lower price. Perhaps you know your market size, CAGR and revenue forecasts but need some information on competition. Ask for pricing on just that section of the report. They will typically accommodate your request for a much lower fee.
Finally, consider that if you do pay a negotiated fee for a market research report, it will be an invaluable tool for your company. Because the reports are comprehensive, you will use that information time and again as the company grows. Sections you might not need today may be very helpful a year or two down the road. It will be a worthwhile purchase.