Medical device market research in Europe
Purdie Pascoe conducts medical device market research worldwide, but the majority of our projects include at least one European market.
Conducting medical device market research in Europe brings specific challenges, and it helps to work with a team with a depth of experience. Here are a few of the most important things to consider.
What is different in medical device market research in European countries
The first and most obvious consideration when conducting medical device market research in Europe is that it is a continent made up of 51 very different countries, and a considerably higher number of languages, not to mention cultures.
Although the majority of it is united to some extent by the European Union, there are still major variations in everything from GDP to healthcare systems.
At the same time, we have to work within the limitations of budget, time and other considerations to come up with research that – to the best extent possible – represents ‘what Europeans think’.
The nature of the question being asked dictates the degree to which research can be homogenized across markets, for example if you ask doctors in Germany and in Portugal whether they think a new product will be effective you might expect a broadly similar response (or range of responses).
Whereas if you ask them what the process would be for adopting that new product in their hospital you will likely hear something very different in each market.
The key is to know when it makes sense, with all due caveats and caution, to combine European findings and when the feedback from each market needs to be kept distinct.
How Europe compares to other markets in medical device market research
Take a look at some healthcare market data on Europe, the United States and China provided by Emergo by UL.
Qualitative medical device market research
The Purdie Pascoe team moderate all qualitative research interviews conducted in the UK ourselves. We occasionally conduct English language interviews with respondents in other European markets, though we recommend using native language in nearly all cases.
With strong speakers of French, Germany, Italian and Spanish in our team, we have the capabilities to listen to and potentially conduct interviews in those languages, but more typically we work with local freelance moderators in each European market.
Making sure those moderators fully understand both the broad objectives of the study and the detailed technicalities of the subject matter is absolutely critical to the success of European market research projects.
Purdie Pascoe has refined our approach to ensuring this is done thoroughly and effectively over the years using two vital elements:
1. A network of experienced healthcare moderators
We have built up a network of highly specialized and very experienced healthcare moderators within each of the major European markets (and many of the smaller ones too).
This means we have a high degree of trust and strong working relationships with these individuals, many of whom now have a considerable amount of subject matter experience in the therapy / product areas we have researched many times.
2. Medical device market research briefing process:
We take the briefing process very seriously: we provide moderators with background material (including recordings of English language interviews where available, which is in 90%+ cases);
We conduct an initial telephone briefing, and then we schedule a debrief after the first 1-2 interviews to check for any problems and make sure everything is being covered correctly and thoroughly;
We also schedule a final debrief to get the moderators’ overall impressions before we start report writing
Another key consideration when conducting medical device market research in Europe is where to conduct any face-to-face research. It’s obviously always good to get a good geographic spread, and to avoid going back to the same cities too often – but realistically when looking for hard-to-find respondents to take part in groups or IDIs we typically need to focus on the largest cities.
In the UK this nearly always means London; in France, as Audrey Hepburn put it “Paris is always a good idea”. Italy offers the choice of Rome or Milan, and similarly in Spain both Madrid and Barcelona are usually viable, whereas Germany offers a range of cities which are large enough, the majority of our work being done in Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.
Quantitative medical device market research
Besides the aforementioned critical issue of when to combine data from different markets into a ‘Total Europe’ category, another important consideration when conducting healthcare market research in Europe is the likelihood of cultural bias affecting ratings.
The stereotypical example of this is that an enthusiastic Italian physician may award a score of 9 out of 10 to an idea they like, whereas a German counterpart – despite liking it just as much - might only have given it a 7. A gross generalization, but there is some truth in it.
There are some ways to avoid this phenomenon, for example using trade-off exercises and rankings rather than pure ratings. Purdie Pascoe offers a wide range of advanced analytical techniques and removing cultural bias is one of the key advantages these approaches can offer.