Authored by Beverly Asper
Board members of senior living communities in today’s climate are placing a high intrinsic value on market research to answer non-traditional questions. Boards have turned to market research as a means of investigating specific trends, perceptions, and project concepts and are relying on the findings to make strategic organizational decisions.
This new approach has evolved over time, to include a variety of research techniques such as electronic and telephone surveys, heavier reliance on external perspectives from stakeholders, and input from a broad spectrum of complimentary and competitive providers. The incorporation of “data-mining” and on-line web based research has propelled the outcome of the research product to a new level.
Although management teams generally have their finger on the pulse of the local market, it is often the board that is seeking the additional feedback from a targeted and focused market research process in order to move forward with strategic planning initiatives.
Examples of targeted and focused market research:
Focus group sessions
Focus group sessions identify the desires and interest level of future residents to support campus repositioning, proposed expansion, or new project development initiatives. Focus group sessions should begin with customized planning and result in knowledge about the prospects’ desires regarding community spaces, dining options, accommodation design and campus life. Focus group sessions are also able to explore financial acceptance and barriers to product pricing.
Stakeholder interviews provide a cross-section of input from neighbors, pastors, local business professionals, healthcare professionals, government agencies, and regulators to provide perspectives on consumer trends and local housing and healthcare dynamics. Often the results of these interviews confirm or alter organizational perceptions.
Product comparisons between one organization and another are essential during project planning phases to determine both operational and product diversity within the marketplace. On-site tours and interviews with each organization result in a cross-dimensional profile of services and accommodations offered in the local market and shed light on potential opportunities for product and service expansion.
Website reviews include an analytical process of comparing website content and style between organizations. Providers are often able to streamline or enhance website content prior to embarking on a collateral redesign process, saving money and targeting prospects at the same time.
A customized approach
Market research should be customized for each individual client situation, and it should be targeted to address specific questions of the organization. Upfront discussion and candid input from boards and management teams is essential for the research team to fully understand the history, current situation, and potential dynamics. It also helps to be able to design the appropriate research methodology.
For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly healthcare specialists can help, contact our team.