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How 2019 ignited my passion for insights

Stacey East, Insights Manager, Origins, shares her learnings from the Pharma Market Research Conference

I joined Origins, a health experience research agency, in July 2019 having previously worked in the med comms team at Bedrock, and since moving across to work solely on the insights side of the business I have found learning more about the world of market research to be fascinating. One recent highlight was attending the Pharma Market Research Conference in October 2019. This conference certainly provided lots of food for thought! Not so many answers necessarily, but plenty of thought-provoking questions and excellent discussion with a group of really engaged delegates, from both agencies and industry.

I found that there were a few key themes that stood out over the course of the two days:

  • The use of AI in market research
  • How to utilise the wealth of data that is often available
  • The need to fully engage marketeers in any research throughout the research project, not just at the end

The rise of the machines:

With regards to AI, there is a healthy level of mistrust and slight unease around this ‘new’ technology, whether or not it can be trusted and what value it can bring. General consensus at the conference was that any AI, or ‘smart’ technology needs to be used collaboratively and in conjunction with human analysis and expertise, never as a replacement. Using terms such as ‘machine-led’ or machine-supported, rather than ‘AI’ are not only usually more accurate, but also less intimidating. If used to complement more traditional market research approaches, then machine-led techniques are likely to, and should be, welcomed by the industry. I have seen how effective complementing traditional research with technology can be here at Origins, where we use a multi-layered analytical approach, one of these layers being machine-led sentiment analysis which provides an overall ‘feel’ for any one particular participant interaction and further enhances the thematic analysis provided by our expert team of researchers. One thing that is important to remember is that, as with any research, defining your objectives and agreeing on a methodology that is appropriate to achieve these objectives is vital; this includes making sure that any tech used will complement the research and not be off-putting for any participants. Any machine-led analytics need to be carefully planned and calibrated in order to ensure outputs are appropriate and valuable.

Making the most of what you’ve got:

An issue that was mentioned several times was how to utilise the wealth of data which often exists within companies, but is often stored in multiple different places, across teams, divisions and sometimes only existing within people’s heads. If an effective solution can be found it leads to efficiencies not only in analysis (facilitating a holistic view), but also in return on investment (avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort) and increased stakeholder engagement (by enabling clear, simple and valuable interrogation for market uses).

The gold standard was seen to be one integrated and interactive dashboard which could combine both primary and secondary research and that could be interrogated for analysis and then used to create outputs which could easily be tailored to present information and insights to different depths, with different focuses for different audiences. Dashboard, video footage and classic PowerPoint presentations all have a place, but crucially need to work together. It is also important that information isn’t left to remain static but should be kept up-to-date and focused on current business needs.

Whilst this ‘gold standard’ approach may not be achievable for all teams, the principal of making the most of the information you have can be applied with minimal budgetary impact and reap significant rewards.

Working together as one team:

A recurring theme across the sessions, roundtables and coffee-break discussions was the frustration that can often be felt between different functions. As all stakeholders have different incentives, drivers and barriers it is not surprising that there can be friction. However, for market research to have real value, different teams and individuals need to work together effectively.

Ensuring that all stakeholders in any given project are appropriately engaged at the start of the project is certainly something which we stress the importance of with our clients and projects. It doesn’t need to be a grand affair, just a short call or meeting to explain the aims of the research, an overview of the work involved and confirmation of any actions which will be required from each stakeholder. It goes a really long way to ensuring a project runs smoothly, and we have found that individuals really appreciate being involved.

The key things that we at Origins implement are:

  • making sure all stakeholders are engaged from the outset, especially in multi-country projects
  • defining and agreeing needs well in advance of starting, or even designing, research
  • ensure research is designed to answer key questions and results are optimised to be objective, not subjective
  • manage expectations on timelines before and during projects
  • design research with the ability to be agile, although important to emphasise the importance of not getting carried away with any interim results

I am very much looking forward to implementing the things I have learnt during my first six months at Origins throughout 2020 and working with the rest of my expert team to deliver more fascinating insights for our clients.

If you’d like to find out more about how Origins can help you in your projects, please get in touch.

Stacey East, Insights Manager, Origins

About Origins Insights:

Origins Insights is a health experience research company, driven by curiosity. We unearth people’s everyday experience with their health and associated healthcare treatments. To achieve your research goal, we deploy a variety of engaging qualitative methodologies, including our award-winning video ethnography approach.

Working from our UK based offices, we are part of the Bedrock Group, a privately-owned health research and communications company comprised of Origins Insights and Bedrock Healthcare Communications. Origins partners with national and international healthcare companies to identify research needs and build research programmes that enable a deep understanding of patient experience.

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16th January 2020



Company Details

Bedrock Healthcare Communications

01252 240200

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One Fleet
Ancells Road
GU51 2UN

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