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Try co-creation for increased insights at less cost

Moving away from traditional techniques can lead to greater customer understanding and buy-in

Changing standard market research testing to co-creation with our customers can provide a solution to the increasing demands from management for better strategic direction and lower costs.

Co-creation lets us understand the world of our customers from the inside, working with healthcare professionals or patients to create the best solutions, rather than simply testing them. In addition, we have physician buy-in from the start through this collaborative approach and if we combine it with common digital communication platforms, it can also deliver lower cost solutions.

The power of the crowd
Crowdsourcing, enabled by Web 2.0 technologies, is commonly used to draw on mass-collaboration to help achieve business goals. Based on the principle of the 'survival of the fittest' concept, superior ideas are identified at a fraction of the usual research costs.

Applications for pharma are numerous, such as helping to identify the target group for a specific target product profile (TPP) or the best positioning for a product, uncovering how to gain market access for a high cost product, or how pharma companies can best support patients. The physicians who enter a crowdsourcing site can see the answers other physicians have given and build on existing ideas or add their own. Engaging with physicians in this way can uncover deep insights at a low cost.

Take observation further
By contrast, ethnography (observation of customers or patients), an accepted approach for insight generation, is usually associated with a high price tag. It is particularly effective in understanding the real impact of the disease and treatment on a patient or identifying unmet needs the patient didn't realise they had.

Due to cost and time considerations, the pure approach of lengthy observation has morphed to include stronger participation from the patient, such as digital ethnography where the patient may complete a one-week diary online for faster data collection and analysis and post online videos to illustrate the most important parts of their day. These outputs, whether from ethnography or digital ethnography, can be used in later co-creation interviews where patients watch recordings of their behaviours together with the moderator, allowing us to dig deeper and get the full co-creation input.

Connect people on the go
Using social media, at the heart of co-creation, can integrate research into the way we live our lives and deliver successful solutions, but often with reduced insight compared to face-to-face research. More value is delivered when customising existing technologies to the purpose of research, such as moderator-guided bulletin boards among pre-screened patients or physicians, or online focus groups for a rapid turnaround and wide geographical coverage.

Similarly, we can further leverage mobile phones – with Smartphone penetration over-indexing among physicians – to gather words, photographs and videos to share observations or emotions instantly. We can use simple tools such as QR codes, a two-second procedure that directly links people to co-creation platforms. Scan the QR code printed below with your Smartphone and see where it takes you.

This is just a snapshot of the many ways in which we can use co-creation to create value at less cost.

The Author
Kim Hughes
is the managing directort of The Planning Shop International

29th July 2011


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