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Article: Using DPS®/Conjoint to Formulate a Competitive Response by RG+A
Published 09/24/2015


The contraception franchise of a major pharmaceutical company was under competitive threat by a discount product coming to market within two years. RG+A was engaged to help the client understand the impact to their franchise – both inline and pipeline products – and to identify variations of the competitor’s product profile that would have the greatest impact on share. RG+A employed our DPS®/Conjoint approach to simulate prescribing behavior among 400 providers under current market conditions as well as two future market scenarios. Respondents were split into monadic cells and exposed to best, base, and worst-case competitor profiles, and then taken through a trade-off exercise based on potential endpoints for the competitor product. Using this approach, RG+A was able to provide reliable forecasting under variable conditions, and tie share performance to specific components of the competitor’s product.


RG+A’s client was a pharmaceutical company with multiple products in the contraception space, including one marketed product with potentially negative publicity as well as a pipeline product nearing launch. The client’s contraception franchise was facing a competitive threat from a new entrant to the market. RG+A was engaged to help the client formulate a competitive response by forecasting the impact of this new competitor on their franchise under both current and future market events and by identifying the variations of the competitor’s product profile that would have the greatest impact on prescribing.


To address the client’s objectives, RG+A employed our DPS®/Conjoint approach with monadic cells to assess the best, base, and worst-case scenarios for the competitor’s product profile. This fully-online approach engaged 400 OB/GYNs and NPs/PAs in a multi-phase interview that included simulated prescribing under multiple market scenarios as well as a tradeoff exercise.

The first phase of the interview captured the respondent’s awareness of and reaction to current market conditions, focusing on awareness and impact of negative publicity for the currently-marketed product.

The core of the interview focus was on patient treatment simulation, broken into three key parts. Respondents were first asked to treat a series of simulated patients under current market scenarios. They were then exposed to a profile for a new product being developed by the client, and asked to treat another set of simulated patients. In the final phase for the simulation portion of the interview, the respondents were broken into four monadic cells representing the best, base, and worst case competitor product profile, as well as an AB generic profile, and asked to treat additional simulated patients.

In the final phase of the interview, all respondents participated in a trade-off exercise to measure impact on share of different endpoints of the competitor product under the best, base, and worst-case scenarios.

Key Challenges

  1. Forecast demand in a dynamic future market
  2. Provide clarity on impact of market events and usage across the product class 1 – 2 years in the future
  3. Accommodate uncertainty in the profile of the competitor product

How the Design Addressed the Challenges

  1. Simulation provided a more accurate prediction of future behavior than allocation approaches
  2. Multi-stage prescribing simulation focused analysis on negative issues respondents may have
  3. Sequential simulations identified the source of share for each new entrant
  4. Output fed probability models as well as more traditional forms of modeling


The research found that the client’s greatest exposure was focused on the potential cost advantages of the competitor’s product – 4 out of 5 physicians would switch if maintaining the client’s product would result in a loss to their practice or if the patient pushed for a lower-cost alternative. The research also showed that the client is somewhat protected by the brand equity of their currently-marketed product – significant trust that will slow the uptake for the competitor’s unproven product.


RG+A recommended that the client take steps to minimize situations where stakeholders would face economic consequences for prescribing their products, including a strong contracting approach with provider practices and payers. We also recommended that the client position the competitor product as a new, unproven, cheap contraceptive, and focus messaging on aspects that would create a strong link between the client’s product proven history of use and efficacy and safety.


The client was able to put RG+A’s research findings and recommendation into action to develop specific strategies and messaging designed to combat the competitive threat, which is just now coming to market.

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