Acquiring New Business in the DC Market

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External forces confronting the 401(k) industry including the Department of Labor fiduciary rule, provider consolidation due to pricing pressure, and the heavy volume of litigation over excessive fees continue to push defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors to hone in on cost reduction and reevaluate expenses related to all aspects of plan administration and investments.

As such, acquiring new business in the DC market can be arduous, involving multiple influencers and decision-makers. Asset managers and plan providers often struggle to find the right combination of outreach to the various parties involved and, as a result, waste valuable time and resources. With those dynamics in mind, we are excited to kick off a qualitative research effort designed to better understand the process of evaluating and selecting DC plan providers and investment managers from three critical perspectives:

  • DC plan sponsors, those likely to switch plan providers and/or DC investment managers
  • Heavy DC advisors, DC specialists managing $50M+ in DC AUM
  • DC consultants, consultants focused heavily on serving the DC market

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New Research: Pharmaceutical Companies are Overlooking a Key Audience

Pharmaceutical Companies are Overlooking a Key Audience

I never used to pay attention to anything in the healthcare industry. As someone young and healthy with no medical conditions, I rarely went to the doctor and ignored drug commercials. That all changed when I met my husband. After we had been dating for a while, he let me know that he had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (commonly referred to as UC) when he was 20 years old, and it was not well controlled. My mindset quickly shifted, and I took on the role of a caregiver to someone with a chronic illness. Suddenly everything about the pharma industry fascinated me. I quickly went to find all the information I could on the internet, but it turns out there aren’t a ton of resources available to caregivers for this non-life threatening illness. It was frustrating, to say the least. The lack of resources directed toward caregivers of people with UC seemed to delegitimize their role as caregivers, like they are not even a part of medical decisions.

Luckily for my husband and me, my new-found fascination with the world of pharmaceuticals led me to Market Strategies, where all of my healthcare market research colleagues had seemingly endless knowledge about how to find deep information on diseases and current treatments, as well as treatments in development. I did some independent research on UC and discovered there were better options for my husband than what he was currently prescribed. With my encouragement, he found a more open-minded doctor who prescribed a new medication I had suggested. This new medication was a self-injectable. My husband is brave in a lot of ways, but shots are not his favorite thing. For this new medication to work, I would have to administer the shots. I went with him for his initial loading dose at the doctor’s. My presence at the medical office was viewed as normal, it seems a lot of patients are accompanied by caregivers. The nurse showed me how to inject the medicine and gave us some material from the drug manufacturer.

However, once we got home, it was clear that the manufacturer did not consider the possibility that someone other than the patient would be reading the materials or administering the injection. They did not acknowledge the role of a caregiver at all, which made me feel a little strange as I’m a big influence when it comes to my husband’s medical care. Even after reading the patient-facing materials, I still feel a little bit nervous when I give him his shot, even a year later. That part may come as a surprise to my husband, as I get the feeling he’s pretty confident in my ability. He has to be.

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How Institutional Investors React to Marketing

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Asset managers trying to get the attention of institutional investors must go beyond the typical marketing plan. Getting the attention of institutional investors takes place on a completely different playing field.

In contrast to financial advisors, institutional investors are not being bombarded with as many marketing materials, so in theory getting their attention should be easier. However, institutional investors’ marketing consumption behavior is generally confined to the asset managers they are already doing business with or potential managers they are considering when conducting an RFP. This demands an entirely different element of strategy for asset managers when creating their marketing plan, as the challenge for unknown firms to break through to this audience is incredibly difficult.

  • If I don’t recognize the brand or the name … then I probably wouldn’t even look twice at it.” Benefits Director, $750M DC/DB, NYC
  • “I don’t get that much to be honest with you, but I don’t really look at things from providers that we’re not using.” CFO, $20M Endowment, NYC

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Going Beyond Target Consumers to Drive Your Innovation Journey

As Randall Hula noted in Forging a Clear PATH to Corporate Innovation, it is critical to involve the right types of consumers at the right points along the Innovation Journey. Instead of simply focusing on your Target Consumer, it is important to recognize how other types of consumers—Lead Users, Creatives, Early Adopters and Brand Advocates—can contribute to and strengthen the innovation process.

These different consumer research groups form naturally around shared traits and preferences, the exact kind of commonalities that can spell gold for marketers—and market researchers. But the keys to tapping into their potential lie in understanding and identifying members of each group and knowing when exactly in the Innovation Journey they can contribute most.

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Aligning for Success: Innovating with Clear Eyes

Aligning for Success: Innovating with Clear EyesIt’s common for qualitative research practitioners to cast a wide net to ensure no insight is left unconsidered, and many apply the same logic to their innovation efforts, aiming for the big, blue sky with the hopes of capturing a new, game-changing idea. In practice, however, I’ve seen this approach to innovation not only produce incremental or non-actionable results, but also shelve some of the best ideas to collecting dust. To find success in innovation, it’s important to act deliberately and remain cognizant about where you want (and don’t want) to go. Continue reading

Studies Show Optimism Is an Economic Catalyst

Studies Show Optimism Is an Economic CatalystMarket Strategies conducts numerous thought leadership studies for our clients. These studies are often released under the client brand so you may not even know they were conducted by us when you read about them in the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, or hear about them on CNBC. While we can’t give away specific findings from our studies, we can tell you that the most recent studies have been impacted by a fascinating polling phenomenon—optimism. Continue reading

Forging a Clear PATH to Corporate Innovation

Forging a Clear PATH to Product Innovation

A clear definition of innovation, leadership who supports it and employees empowered to execute it are hallmarks of a strong innovation-oriented company. But, as my colleague Paul Donagher noted in Innovation Journey: Is It Better to be Lucky or Good?, the voice of the consumer is also important to product development research though including the right kind of consumer along the Innovation Journey is critical.

To include consumers in idea generation, we need a repeatable and reliable process that produces groundbreaking, market-relevant concepts by bringing creative individuals and forward-thinking consumers into the innovation process. This consumer-oriented process includes the following steps:

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Finding Our Groove at The Quirk’s Event

vinylI was recently explaining the idea of an in-home interview to my husband. “You would never let someone into the house!” he replied, knowing that I would be skeptical, at best, if invited to participate in one. However, I would agree to participate in this type of immersive research. Even though I am unabashedly, undeniably and thoroughly biased, I believe that helps me understand why some of the busiest professionals working in some of the most sensitive and regulated industries agree to do the same.

Yes, financial advisors are busy. Yes, doctors have to be careful about what they say and share. Yet both are willing to meet with us at their offices and talk for rather lengthy periods of time. There are certain industries—financial services and healthcare being two prominent examples—where compliance concerns, traditional thinking and precedent can falsely limit the qualitative method possibilities.

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Two Common Product Development Mistakes to Avoid

Two Common Product Development Mistakes to AvoidEditor’s Note: Our qualitative researchers go beyond people’s words and actions to reveal the meaningful insights behind them. They have decades of experience across a myriad of industries and brands. But who are they? And what drives their desire to connect with others? Take a two-minute peek into today’s featured moderator: Rob Darrow.

When I first entered the field of market research years ago, the CEO of our small boutique firm routinely stated that “our greatest challenge doesn’t come from other research firms, but from prospective clients who feel they don’t need research.”  Thankfully, most companies recognize that market research plays a critical role in market success, but even that enlightened view is not sufficient to guarantee success.

After all, what does “market research” for any given organization actually mean?  When is it needed?  How should it be applied? Even those who are committed to better serving their customers can find themselves making some very basic mistakes when it comes to using or not using market research.  Following are two common mistakes that businesses make when it comes to market research and product development.

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Building Successful Advisory Relationships

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Investor_Advisor_Relationship

Amid an era of seemingly unprecedented political and global change, questions around the health and longevity of the financial markets abound. Investor trust in the financial community continues to be tested as factors beyond investors’ control threaten to jeopardize their retirement savings and financial wellness. Meanwhile, ongoing news coverage on the status of the DOL fiduciary ruling, sharpened emphasis on fees and the emergence of robo-advisory services as an alternative to traditional advice models are creating new challenges in the advisor industry. As such, understanding how investor-advisor relationships are established, the key drivers of advisor consideration, satisfaction and loyalty, and the role of trust and value has never been more imperative for advice providers.

Affluent investors don’t typically seek sweeping changes, especially when their long-term goals are funding a stable and healthy retirement. Nonetheless, when trust wanes and cheaper alternative solutions such as robo-advisors are within reach, change can become an attractive option. With those dynamics in mind, we are excited to kick off a qualitative study to explore the critical factors at stake across the key stages of the investor-advisor relationship life cycle. We’ll explore: Continue reading