Go-to-market: what healthcare could learn from how consumer goods are launched

Taking a product to market is a more complex process in the healthcare world than it is in the consumer goods field. But it doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn from the latter. The healthcare industry could leverage cross-sector methods of getting their products to the right consumers, at the right time.

Real market reach

What if we told you it was possible to improve the success of new products and services coming from healthcare companies by thinking like the biggest consumer packaged goods businesses?

Although having different audience scopes, the principles applied in the CPG market reach should (yet aren’t) be applied by healthcare companies. Leveraging go-to-market tactics from a completely different industry could be the answer for healthcare businesses to successfully reach their market with new solutions. 

Whether we call them patients, or consumers; all business design processes linger on key market elements. At Board of Innovation, we tackle going to market by breaking down product-market fit into the most relevant components and assumptions. Regardless of the industry, we design models and validate solutions ahead of a launch, increasing the likelihood of success. 

Two different industries, one approach

Understanding the challenge, and knowing your target audience should make reaching the market easier… So, why do healthcare companies struggle more than others?

The health industry is, by definition, a far more sensitive market, with more stakeholders and intermediaries, and an inherently complex ecosystem. However, this major difference from the CPG industry shouldn’t blind the similarities between what makes a product reach the market with success.

The consumer goods industry follows an obvious path to getting their consumer insights; getting them straight from the consumers themselves. However, contacting consumers or end-users directly might not seem like the clearer path in the healthcare field, so it is often overlooked.

With growing awareness of healthy choices impacting consumers’ lives, healthcare businesses should also be creating direct communication lines with their end-users. This will play a vital part in validating healthcare-related products or services before putting them out there.

In both industries, go-to-market success will depend on a deep understanding of the consumers.

Universal Go-To-Market Principles

All industries have a common denominator, they deliver to people. In the case of health services and products, they are shifting the way patients interact with their health. Roles evolve as pharmacists become advisors, medication is delivered in new ways, and at-home diagnoses become more independent. 

Whether they’re called consumers or patients, design thinking principles lead the way with them in mind. However diverse the industries, the essence of the process remains the same – how and why products are brought into the market.

Healthcare and Consumer Goods Overlap

Whether it comes to offering a new drug, a medical service, or finding out the best way to relaunch a new retail product, healthcare companies could be leveraging how other industries offer value-adding services based on their customer-centric go-to-market strategies. Real-life evidence, validation, and a strategy that has explored relevant problem spaces should always be part of the how.

Bringing real value can only come from understanding consumers, what drives them to make choices, and what triggers their decision-making processes. These insights tell us what our users need and want, and are fundamental for a launch to work. Although Direct-To-Consumer methods are commonly used in consumer goods spaces, healthcare companies often fail to consider the value of this first approach.

We find that the two industries overlap. Concepts on product development, customer feedback, market access, and even digital access to new solutions, can all be applied in the healthcare solutions ecosystems. 

The right way to access your market

One of the most challenging aspects of marketing a new health product as consumer goods is identifying the right audience, and figuring out how to get the service to them. Once again, designing based on personas and accessing the market at a later stage are shared concepts in both fields.

Consumer goods businesses think of target buyers. Should healthcare companies treat their end-users as buyers or patients? You might say both. Whichever the answer, both cases will share the same go-to-market structure. Let’s phrase this out. 

The Patient

This is where innovation to access the market starts. Whether it’s marketing or product development, the process begins when outlining the right customer segment. A deep understanding of the customer journey and their ailments allows us to know their needs. Only then we start thinking about the service to be marketed. 

You might storyboard a hospital experience, or map out the highs and lows of patient journeys. Whichever the approach, there will always be a need of interviewing the end-customer, determining their pains, high points, and a service’s jobs to be done.

In our journey as innovators within healthcare ecosystems, we’ve made an observation; companies are eager to get approval from their key opinion leaders, who are typically early adopters. But, what does this mean?

There’s no reason to neglect what lies on each end of the market. This means paying close attention to doctors (although they won’t be your most excited customers), and simultaneously focusing on direct contact with patients and their needs.

Gathering these insights, and turning them into patient personas will ultimately allow you to understand the right health market segment according to your problem space. Better yet, you’ll also find out when they need you the most.

the solution

Now that you know your consumers’ needs, you can deep dive into your options. Treatments, services, products that are relevant to your strategy. How can what you offer address the pains of current consumer realities, and how to offer real value to your consumers by looking out for what they need to lead healthier lives.

Acknowledging the emotional and logistical patient challenges in the healthcare industry will be critical if looking to develop solutions that offer value beyond the treatment itself. With this in mind, the overall worth that you create may go beyond the expectations you had scoped in the past.

the time

With detailed data about their solutions and users, healthcare companies can start pointing out the right moment to deliver the new service or product. Just like in every other field, the go-to-market limitations and opportunities will always depend on knowing your consumer first.

Using a consumer journey map will help identify the right time to deliver a product. Patient or buyer, this type of guide thrives on acknowledging their motivations and pain points during the entire process.

the price

Go-to-market strategies are iterative processes. This applies to the healthcare business as well. And, although mentioned at the end, cost is something to consider throughout all stages of your go-to-market plan. 

Providing a new service at the right cost is the sweet spot between the concepts that deliver the most value to customers or patients, and the obvious business models viability limitations.

Customer-centric approach

What we could underline as the real challenge in market access in all industries is committing to a solution between thoroughly understanding the problem to be solved. Searching for fixes is a natural human inclination, now we have to make them work based on business design principles. 

Ultimately, an effective go-to-market strategy will depend on understanding consumers and patients, gathering insights, mapping out personas and models, and exploring viability through validation. Healthcare, or consumer goods, thinking about the users first is the universal rule.

 

Want to learn more about go-to-market strategies?

Check out our non-obvious perspectives on launching new products or services

Thanks for reading!

I’m Christian Cobb – Senior Business Designer. Spreading innovation culture is in our DNA – if you liked the read, contribute to our mission by sharing this article.

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