Glaxo: Explore reasons for behavior

George NesvadbaManager of Market Research, Respiratory Business UnitGlaxo CanadaTorontoQ. What types of research does your company commission?A. Just about everything. Advertising effectiveness, usage and attitude, measuring the impact of certain promotional programs. So it runs pretty much the gamut of what...

George Nesvadba

Manager of Market Research, Respiratory Business Unit

Glaxo Canada


Q. What types of research does your company commission?

A. Just about everything. Advertising effectiveness, usage and attitude, measuring the impact of certain promotional programs. So it runs pretty much the gamut of what you would imagine.

Q. In your experience, what types of research do we do well in Canada?

A. From what I’ve seen, going to conferences in the u.s. and talking to our affiliates worldwide, we do quantitative and qualitative research as well as anybody else.

Q. In your opinion, what could we do better?

A. I’m just going to speak from the pharmaceutical industry perspective, because that’s what I know best.

I believe we should be thinking more of soliciting doctors’ opinions. Physicians have a professional veneer. If you can get underneath that, start exploring the rationale for prescribing choices, that’s something we could think about doing better.

Why prescribed

It will help us understand why, for example, certain drugs are prescribed over others.

It will help us understand why physicians react to certain advertising, journal ads. It will also help us to get a better understanding of the general mind-set of the physician population.

Q. What needs of yours are not currently being served by the market research services available?

A. Our needs are being served very well. But I would add to that, you have to really search for agencies and individuals that can meet those needs.

So it’s not an easy process. There’s some responsibility on the client side to find the best supplier for a particular job.

Q. Where would you like to see more research being done?

A. In our area, I’d like to see more research being done with consumers. In the pharmaceutical field, we have to do a lot of work with the medical professional, but I think we should start doing more work with the consumer.

For example, understanding how they take their drugs. For us, the big issue might be patient compliance.

We want to understand why certain patients might not comply with their medication [instructions.]

Do they have a fear of the medication, do they not understand the instructions from the physician, do they take the medication for a few days, then feel better and stop?

Patient behavior

We want to understand why patients act the way they do.

Q. If you lived in an ideal world, in what ways would you change the field of market research?

A. I would try to get people away from too many statistics and hiding behind numbers. I would like them to start thinking in a qualitative sense. I would like them to explain why things are happening and not just say, ‘This is statistically significant.’

On a personal note, I’d like to see people that work in market research have more of a business orientation and try to understand what the goals of the company are and work towards those goals.

I find that market research sees itself as a separate entity and it’s not really tuned in to the general thrust that the company is going in. That’s a real pet peeve, actually.

Personally, I don’t think market research has done a good job at aligning itself with the thinking of senior brand management and working in the same direction. They go off in their own little world and worry about multi-variate analysis or something.

Q. In what ways could the reporting of information be improved?

A. Recommendations, strong recommendations.

I understand the reluctance of suppliers to do it, but on the other hand, if they don’t do it, from our perspective, it doesn’t have any value.

I want them not to be afraid of making recommendations, even if they know it may not agree with your thinking.

I don’t simply want them to go out and do an interview and then send back a bunch of tables with an introduction that summarizes the findings. I don’t think I’m getting value for my money, if that’s the case.

If you’re going to write something, give it some interpretation, give it some meaning. Put a spin on it. Just don’t regurgitate the facts.

Q. In your opinion, does the market research available in Canada support your decision-making to the extent to which you would like?

A. Yes, absolutely. But again, that’s incumbent on the client going out to find good agencies to work with.

There are a lot of clients that work with one agency, and they call that ‘partnering.’ I know that there are certain advantages to that, but I just don’t believe one agency can do everything well.

I think it’s important to go out and find an agency that can excel in certain areas. So you have a pool of four, five or six agencies, but you know what each excels in.

It takes some time to do that, but the benefits are really worth it.

Q. How would you rate the efforts by Canadian market research companies to market their information services?

A. Pretty poor. There are some companies that are better than others. But a lot of what you find out about companies tends to be through word-of-mouth. And if they do market themselves, the way they do it isn’t very effective either.

You would be surprised how many brochures I get across my desk. I look at them and say ‘Okay, tell me something different. Why are you different. Why should I use you?’

They are very generic brochures. There’s often no list of clients, so I don’t know if they have experience working in the pharmaceutical industry. It’s a lot different than the consumer side.

I don’t mind investing some time, but I don’t want to spend two weeks bringing these people up to date on how the pharmaceutical industry works.

And if they want to talk to me, they should first try to spell my name right. As soon as people don’t spell my name right, I won’t even bother reading their material.

Q. How do you determine the reliability and stability of a research company? What guidelines do you use?

A. I think a lot of it is being in the industry for a while. Word-of-mouth. Experience working with the companies. That’s about it.