• Sun. Mar 7th, 2021

Product positioning and competitive analysis
are two of the most important aspects of successful marketing though they are sometimes grouped
under the blanket term “market access”. The easiest way to look at this is to think
about pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics where we identify how the body affects the
drug and how the drug affects the body. It is a similar concept in that we are examining
how the product will affect the market and conversely, how the market affects the product. What is different now compared to what has
been done traditionally is that there are additional elements involved. We are no longer limited to outbound techniques
and physical locations. Equally important are product positioning
and competitive analysis in the digital landscape as this is primarily where interaction with
consumers takes place. A common question is “How do we succeed
when our market is the most competitive market”? There is some truth to this because every
market is extremely competitive. The key to success is to reverse engineer
a solution to a pre-existing problem.

For example, companies can work with patient
advocacy groups to identify a problem and then position the product as a feasible solution. By doing so, we establish a clearly defined
customer and goal. What about product positioning and competition
in a saturated market? Examining the market for automated external
defibrillators (AEDs), we see that there are several competing products. It is possible to file a 510k, launch the
same product with a different brand name, and enter the market, but it is unlikely to
succeed unless the brand is already established. The AEDs that have done well in the market
have shown successful product differentiation from competitors’ products as well as their

Philips’ Heartstart line is a good example
of successful product differentiation in this space. While you may or may not be familiar with
the product by name, it is likely you have seen the small red cartridge sitting in a
glass box near your office. This is the “entry-level” Philips Heartstart
Onsite at ~$1,200. They have done a good job with market segmentation
as essentially the same product with slight differences is marketed in different ways
to serve businesses, homes, and government entities. If they are doing a good job then why are
other companies able to profit as well? Multiple studies have shown that CPR and defibrillators
in conjunction can significantly increase survival rate compared to using either method
alone. Unfortunately, not many people in the US know
how to perform CPR. What ZOLL managed to do was launch their AED
line that contains a chest compression sensor in the CPR-D pads.

This provides feedback on depth of compression
and will tell users to push harder if they are not achieving the recommended compression
depth. It is a minor modification, but contains patented
technology creating barriers to entry for competitors and new opportunities for the
company. Though the entry point is ~$3,000 there is
clearly a market for this product. What happens after launch? Is it time to relax? Of course not. Although a product has been launched successfully,
it does not mean that you are done. The market is always moving and new competitors
constantly emerging, so it is essential to continually monitor, track, and adjust based
upon the external environment. Assumptions prior to launch might not be applicable
after implementation and the product may need to be repositioned. That means we need to have the flexibility
to do so.

This is what we often refer to as lifecycle
management and this is where contingency plans and perhaps crisis management teams come into

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