Using Market Intelligence to Strengthen Health Markets

Kim Longfield
Kim Longfield
The idea of ‘Market Intelligence’ can be overwhelming to some practitioners and can conjure up a long list of terms, like “promotion,” “trends,” “supply,” “demand,” and “sales.”

At Databoom, we work with clients on market-strengthening projects that span various health domains and geographies. In this blog, we explain Market Intelligence for health programming and how leveraging the right kind of evidence can strengthen your work in markets and ultimately, health outcomes.  

So, what IS Market Intelligence? Market Intelligence is the practice of gathering, analyzing, and using data to inform decision-making and health market strengthening.

WHY is Market Intelligence important to health programs? Market intelligence helps us understand the state of a health market, who the market is and isn’t serving, and if investments are working. 

What should practitioners measure? 

1) Need – How many people need the product you’re offering?

To avoid under or over-estimating the size of the market, we start by understanding how many people truly need the product you’re offering. For example, not everyone is at risk (or equal risk) for HIV, STIs, or unintended pregnancies because they aren’t sexually active, don’t have sex often, or are already using some form of protection. To estimate the need for products, services, and associated costs, we ask: Who’s most at risk for an adverse outcome? How big is the population of potential consumers? Why are they at risk? How often are they at risk? How much product is needed to protect consumers at risk each year? 

2) Demand – How do you get people to want and use the product you’re offering?

Demand-side market intelligence provides us with evidence to target campaigns and understand patterns of product use. We can investigate: Which factors are associated with product use? What are the needs, motivations, and influencers of the target consumer, and how do they affect use? What proportion of the population is using the product? How much are consumers willing to pay for the product?

3) Supply – How much product is currently on the market?

Supply-side intelligence helps us understand how much supply is required to meet current need and use. We investigate: What is the total size of the market? What is the total value of the market? What is product availability at different delivery points in the market? What is the range of products and price points available on the market? 

4) Sustainability – Can the market be sustained without donor funding?

Finally, it’s important to understand a program’s reliance on external subsidy to support markets. Ultimately, we want to know if health outcomes and impact will continue without external support. To assess the sustainability of market strengthening programs, we investigate: How much do national governments spend on products and services? How much do international donors spend on products and services? How much of the market is reliant upon donor subsidies? What are the trends over time?

We recognize that practitioners don’t typically have the resources to fully fund all measurement approaches needed to answer every question above—but let’s not allow perfect to be the enemy of the good. It’s important that you’re strategic about how you align data gathering with priorities you’ve identified in your operational or strategic plans: perhaps you start with estimating need and measuring current supply; then you move into more sophisticated areas for measuring demand and sustainability. In short, some data are better than none, and more data are better than some. 

For a list of Databoom’s favorite online resources for Market Intelligence, check out our resource page. While several resources are specific to condom markets, the questions and data sources can be adapted to any health market. It’s about finding the right evidence to inform decision-making and designing better programs that meet your consumers’ needs.

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