Book review: What’s the Question?

In “What’s the question?” the authors Erik de Kort en Durk Bosma offer frameworks and tools to bridge the gap between what marketeers, end-users of insights, expect and what researchers at agencies, suppliers of insights, offer. Being on the supplier side myself I am always interested in learning from experienced colleagues. 

The book contains 4 main parts: the importance of thorough problem analysis, how to analyze a research problem, deriving the research questions from the problem, and choosing an effective and efficient research approach.

The author’s model for problem analysis is helpful in structuring one’s proposal as well as findings. All too often the client hasn’t fully developed the focal point when writing a brief, and further probing is necessary to get to the real question.

Market research should assist the marketeer in making better decisions. It is helpful for the researcher to know whether the decisions the marketeer is faces with is strategic, tactic or operational. Innovation and new product development studies can be more strategic than brand equity and communication trackers

Market researchers have a tendency of immediately assuming that research must be conducted by directly questioning the target group, but there are more approaches possible. For example, you can look at what is already known or you can observe behavior…The choice for qualitative or quantitative research is also part of this step. This choice is, however, almost never an obvious one; there is almost always something to be said for both qualitative and quantitative research.

What’s the question? by Durk Bosma and Erik de Kort

I think reading the book is time well invested. Ray Poynter recommends that market researchers read 2 relevant books per year. Make this one of them! Find out more about the book and the authors here

Monitoring physicians’ understanding of the age indication for a seasonal product


This client needed to provide evidence to the regulatory authorities that its efforts to educate healthcare professionals on the correct age indication of its product had an impact.

It wanted to measure the understanding of target customers before, during and after the educational campaign. This required an agile approach with short turnaround times.  


A micro-survey of 5 questions to a nationally representative sample of physicians, pharmacists and nurses. Repeated every 2 weeks, for a total of 3 months to coincide with the peak usage of this seasonal product.

The survey asked whether they stocked the product, what the age indication was, where they had heard of this age indication and the attitude towards usage of this product category.


At the end of the 12 week tracking period we could show that the knowledge level of healthcare professionals of the correct age indication was substantially higher.

Moreover, insights showed the specific channels through which prescribers and nurses had learned of this age indication.

The client used these insights in a submission to the regulatory authorities that outlined its post-marketing authorisation surveillance efforts.

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Insights to support the launch of a breakthrough treatment in food allergy


This client would like to understand a specific segment of the food allergy market in Australia and the potential to bring its treatment to market.

In order to make this decision, senior management needed insights on the willingness of Allergists and Paediatricians to prescribe the treatment, and the willingness of parents to pay for the treatment. Secondly, the client needed the volume of patients for each specialty and the monthly rate of new diagnosis


The solution was an approach with 4 modules across 2 phases: phase 1 had a qualitative module of in-depth interviews with Allergists and Paediatricians as well as a 2-week market research online community module with parents of patients. For 10 days, participants were asked open-ended questions and to complete projective exercises.

Modules in phase 2 were online surveys to assess pricing sensitivity using the Van Westendorp technique with both groups.


The research identified 4 distinct segments in the prescriber population and recommendations were for the client to approach 2 of these first.

The research community yielded a wealth of insight into the emotional, social and financial impact of the allergy on the daily life of families. The client plans to use themes from this in future communication programs. The client could make an informed decision at what price to launch with a price-demand curve from parents.


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Best practices to get more out of customer insights

The best research and insights are the result of close collaboration between client and consultant. Not all of my clients in consumer health and life sciences have dedicated market research or customer insights functions to marketers work with insight partners. To those brand and product managers I offer these best practices to get the most out of your investment in customer insights. Continue reading “Best practices to get more out of customer insights”

Why you should consider a micro-survey for your brand

Micro-surveys are tools that deliver on clients’ needs for more timely insights. Shorter surveys offer a number of advantages. When pharmaceutical representatives might only get 10 to 15 minutes of a physicians’ attention, it is an anachronism to expect a doctor to stay engaged with a 30 minute questionnaire.  Continue reading “Why you should consider a micro-survey for your brand”