Using the market to help the product team in the development process


The market research group within Strategic Product Development in SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals embarked on concept evaluation of a new drug, then in early clinical development. In a workshop context, bringing together the whole project team of marketing and scientific/clinical personnel, and moderated by an outside market research agency, four modular product concepts were agreed by all. These ranged from a description with a 90% chance of attaining its features in clinical trials, to a 'blue sky' profile with an estimated probability of no more than 10%. Once these concepts had been agreed, all four were tested with practising clinicians, who then played their part in the evaluation process by offering their views on the appeal of each and the clinical data required to support the various claims. The third phase involved quantification of likely uptake of the product, testing two separate concepts constructed on the basis of the findings of the previous research phase. This 3-phase project has yielded benefits in several respects. It has given us a simple and practical approach to early concept testing with an uncertain profile, taking a range of possible trial outcomes into account. Secondly, the close collaboration with R&D has helped to forge team spirit and ensure commonality of purpose among all those involved in development of the new compound.

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