An exploratory study of the use of brand strategy in the Irish medical technology sector
Branding is used with much force as a marketing tool in consumer markets but it is only used mildly in the Medical Technology industry (HBS Consulting 2011). According to HBS consulting (2011) many medical technology companies are “unaware of how to create an effective branding strategy or already have branding structures in place that are so disorganised” that they are ineffective. One major problem with this industry according to HBS Consulting (2011) is that many companies do not understand what branding is and “many are of the opinion that a brand is merely a name associated with a product or the company itself’. According to the Irish Exporters Association (2012) exports from the Medical Technology sector in Ireland came to approximately € 6 billion in 2011; as exporting is one of the primary activities of Medical Technology companies based in Ireland it is therefore extremely important for these companies to build a strong brand overseas to compete with competition abroad. Branding is central to creating customer value, and it is a key tool for creating and maintaining competitive advantage yet it is often overlooked in many companies (Holt 2003). The development o f a brand is not cheap but the returns can be great (Temporal 2000). The following research is an exploratory study into the use of brand strategies in the Medical Technology Industry in Ireland. The aim of the study is to explore if companies in the Medical Technology Industry in Ireland are familiar with and understand what branding means. It also aims to ascertain if brand strategies are used in Medical Technology companies in Ireland. Furthermore the study intends to examine the differences in the practices of the Medical Technology companies that use brand strategies and the Medical Technology companies that do not use brand strategies. A mixed methodology approach was used for the research in order to explore thoroughly the aims of the study. Quantitative research was used in the form of a questionnaire, a total of 178 questionnaires were sent to Medical Technology companies in the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland was excluded from the study as Medical Technology companies in Northern Ireland are part of the UK Medical Technology Industry. Of the 178 questionnaires that were distributed, 101 responses were received. The responses were analysed and were broken into two groups, group one was Medical Technology companies that say they do have a brand strategy in place and group two was Medical Technology companies that say they do not have a brand strategy in place. Qualitative research in the form of in-depth telephone interviews were conducted with four companies that said they do have a brand strategy in place and four companies that said they do not have a brand strategy in place in order to compare the practices of these companies. The study concludes that while the majority of companies in the Irish Medical Technology Sector are familiar with the term branding, not all of them fully understand what the term branding means. The study also demonstrated that the majority o f companies in the Irish Medical Technology Sector do not have a brand strategy in place. Furthermore, the study highlights that the majority of companies that have a brand strategy in place, are not conducting their branding activities correctly or are only practicing parts o f best practice branding. The study also found that there is a limited amount of support and awareness of the benefits of building a brand strategy, available to Medical Technology companies in Ireland. According to the IMDA (2012), the Medical Technology Industry in Ireland is changing due to the ever increasing need to develop new technologies and keep up with new innovations. For that reason the Industry is becoming more and more competitive. Therefore, Irish Medical Technology companies need to consider branding as a key strategic tool to help them compete in the Sector.
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