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Article: Feature Optimization via Qualitative Conjoint to Combat Competitive Threat in the Vascular Device Space by RG+A
Published 05/21/2015


Facing a competitive threat from a new entrant to the market, RG+A’s client – a manufacturer of vascular devices – sought to focus their product development investment in order to optimize their response to this threat. RG+A employed a Qualitative Conjoint approach, using telephone-based qualitative interviews to explore competitive technologies, online conjoint to identify features with the greatest impact, and a Monte Carlo model to estimate win rate in head-to-head comparisons. RG+A was able to recommend the three features that would drive the greatest benefits to competitive response and long-term share.


A novel technology being developed by competitors represented a potential threat to client’s global franchise. The client had multiple potential options with which to respond but needed to decide where to invest scarce resources.  The outcomes needed to consider both the US and EU markets, recommend a preferred course of action and provide a rationale for these recommendations. Timeline and budget were constrained.


Qualitative conjoint interviews with 60 target physicians (30 in the U.S.; 30 in the E.U.) using a phone-to-web methodology.

Key Challenges

  1.  Evaluate the future market value of eight features the client could incorporate into its next generation offerings.
  2. Identify which would offer meaningful competitive advantage.
  3. Characterize differences between needs and values in the US and EU markets.

How the Design Addressed the Challenges

  1.  Discuss future competitive technologies qualitatively before conducting conjoint exercise.
  2. Three step process:
    1. Identify a subset of features that had the greatest impact on physician evaluations through conjoint and additional regressions.
    2. Test and define degree and nature of future competitive advantages qualitatively.
    3. Build Monte Carlo model to estimate how often each feature or set of features would “win” in head-to-head comparisons.
  3. Compare and contrast US and EU results to determine greatest global benefit.


Of the available features, three options were shown to predict physician ratings and provided meaningful competitive benefit.   The Monte Carlo analyses indicated that providing all three options would always beat any combination of two but if only two were possible, any combination would be equally effective.  Finally, qualitative interview results clarified the unique and pivotal benefits of each option.


RG+A recommended that developing the three features would provide a stable platform for competitive response and long-term share growth in both the US and EU.  Qualitative insights were essential in providing comfort to senior management globally and in the US and EU regions.


Recommendations accepted and product development on the three best options is currently underway.

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