With its long road from R&D to the point of sale, the pharmaceutical industry is unlike any other, and pharmaceutical market research is just one part of the journey.

That stands in stark comparison with many consumer-based industries, in which market research forms the foundation for everything from product development to marketing. In pharmaceuticals, market research is extremely important, but some executives might treat it as an afterthought.

The fact is that pharmaceutical products rarely sell themselves, and market research is essential to ensuring companies have the right strategies and tactics to develop and market their products.

The need for better research comes against a backdrop of increasing pressure to perform while research budgets are squeezed.

Keep in mind how the pharmaceutical product base has evolved —15 years ago, pharmaceutical companies brought many products with tremendous value to the public, but a lot of those products are going generic. Not all new products are providing improved benefits or better outcomes than generics that are less expensive. Theres a lack of differentiation.

Some pharmaceutical companies place a high value on market research, but others have a “check the box” mentality—some individuals at these companies question if research has any value at all.

But the best commercial organizations realize that market research leads to a competitive advantage. When its done well, market research drives better-informed decision making. For example, research can be the foundation that ensures youre bringing a commercially relevant product to market. Developing products requires that you make several key decisions, and well-structured research results in the right input and information to make those decisions.