19 October 2018

Everything you need to know about the use of Conjoint in Health Market Research

“Conjoint”, especially in the context of healthcare research, can be considered a daunting and scary methodology. However, it does not have to be that way. With some basic understanding of the theory and the practical needs of the methodology, conjoint can be a powerful, deeply insightful and incredibly versatile methodology. It has the power to revolutionise your understanding of the demand and future appeal of your pipeline assets.

One of the first questions I’m usually asked when talking about conjoint is “what does conjoint mean?” In its most crude form the word conjoint can be broken down in to two simple phrases:

  • Joined together
  • Multiple parts combined

So, when we say “conjoint” we are looking at how various attributes, when joined together, in multiple combinations influence a respondent’s choice or decisions.

When used in the context of healthcare Market Research we can begin to assess the demand and appeal of a new asset that is made up of multiple parts or attributes. We achieve this by employing a “trade-off” approach to better understand what attributes are relatively more important in the respondent’s decision-making process and to identify the overall appeal of a group of disparate attributes.

The next questions I’m usually asked about conjoint is, “When should conjoint be used…?” and “why can’t I just do a normal Max Diff or TPP test?”. There are several reasons why conjoint is a more desirable methodology over a basic TPP test:

  • Firstly, you can statistically assess your asset’s performance giving brand teams confidence in the robust nature of the data. A basic TPP test will generally only give you qualitative insight.
  • If your asset’s attributes are not fixed, for example your asset is awaiting the results of a clinical trial, multiple levels of an attribute can be tested. Whilst a TPP test can usually only be carried out on a fixed profile. This method lacks an element of “future proofing” the research when it comes to unexpected changes in your asset’s attributes.
  • You can explore how attribute variation has an impact on the product performance as a whole.
  • And finally, you can statistically understand which of your asset’s attributes is most “important” to your respondents, which can help to inform positioning and marketing message creation

So, what business questions can Conjoint answer?  Conjoint can answer a wide range of key business questions, for example a well-designed conjoint can:

  • Estimate the uptake of a new product in development
  • Understand which endpoints you should focus on for product development and positioning
  • Measure what impact an increase or decrease of an attribute would have on estimated share of a new product in development
  • Model how the product will compare to marketed and other pipeline assets

Whilst conjoint is incredibly powerful, it does have some limitations in that it cannot…

  • Estimate uptake of a fixed TPP in development
  • Measure uptake of existing standard of care in a specific therapy area

For these research questions an additional research phase of a basic non-conjoint allocation exercise or further qualitative input from physicians is required to provide this level of output to the brand team.

When designing a conjoint project, we seek to work in partnership with our client team to develop a realistic and confident forecasting model. A setup phase of deep secondary research into marketed and pipeline products alongside qualitative interviews to hypothesis test the importance of attributes to include is key to developing a robust and future-proofed conjoint model.  

Conjoint is a powerful methodology which can support brand teams as they make commercial decisions preparing either a late stage pipeline asset for launch or exploring options for a marketed asset which is about to face new competitor threats.

If you require a robust conjoint based forecasting model for an asset in your pipeline or portfolio and want to discuss a project, please get in touch via contact@vox.bio.