What’s the Right Price for a Product?

The speed at which new products are introduced in the dental industry is dizzying – one every 14 hours the last time I checked – and you’ve probably noticed that some companies introduce many more products than others. At 3M ESPE, our pace is driven by our customers’ input and market dynamics coupled with our research and development process, which is in place to ensure that there is a clear need for new products we introduce, and that they do what we say they’ll do. As a result, we might not be the fastest to market in any given category, but I am sure you can all name companies that have been faster only to recall the product some months later.

There’s a cost to our strategy, of course, and you’re probably aware that our products are not typically the least expensive for their categories. We’re okay with that, because, to put it simply, R&D costs money. The clinical testing and field testing we put into our products adds expense and time to our process, and there is just no way around that.

At the same time, I am well aware that the world changed in 2008 with the global financial meltdown and that the advertised price has become more top of mind for consumers. So, I’d like to know what factors dentists consider when they’re making the decision between the branded products and the one that’s lower in price. How much research is enough? Does a limited to no clinical history for a low price product convince you that it’s effective enough? Can you tolerate a recall once in a while if you’re saving at order time? Assuming you don’t base your purchase decision solely on price, what do you base it on? What factors are you looking for?

I’m always interested in your thoughts.

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4 comments so far

  1. Tim Goodheart on

    For me, I like having a consistent pricing, not one that is up one month down the next based on
    what ever special is running. I don’t like having to scout around perpetually for prices. I also really
    hate silly gimmicks-like buy 20 of something and get an iPod-that’s not helpful. Give me a consistent competitive price and I’ll buy my own stuff. Additionally, I like many have shifted my buying habits to “just in time inventory”. My primary distributor can get about 90% of the things I
    use to me next day. Buying in large quantities is not useful. I’d rather keep better cash flow by letting inventory be on the distributors shelf. The absolute lowest price is not the main issue. A competitive price with ease of ordering and quick just in time deliver wins out for me.

    • 3M ESPE on

      Tim,
      Thanks so much for your comments. How do you view loyalty programs that encourage you to purchase from one manufacturer or authorized distributor ?
      Also, it’s interesting that you mentioned you did not like being encouraged to purchase with the incentive of a free iPod or similar non dental item. A lot of dental professionals are unaware that the previously voluntary code of conduct – the AdvaMed Code is mandatory in four States – with two of those , MA & VT having State Legislation making the incentives to the dentist such as the example you provided – ILLEGAL. It is quite a detailed code and I have only mentioned one small component. If you live in either of the States mentioned – you might want to talk to your State Licensing body or the ADA for more
      information.
      Thanks again for your post.

  2. Tim on

    I’m personally not big on the loyalty things and gimmicks. They’re often convoluted or have levels that are impossible to reasonably reach. Give me a good, consistant price with good professional service and you’ll have my loyalty. I know many aren’t necessarily like that but for me that’s what I want. Take my main distributor for example. They gave me the little USB flashdrive for ordering supplies (so my assistant can make a weeks order in literally 10 minutes or less), they give me 2% off the top for ordering via Internet and I get next day shipping on the majority of my consumables and because of my volume I get priority on equipment service calls. Not a cheaper call, just priority in fixing things when I need it.
    Quick, easy, not a lot of bells and whistles, consistant, saving me some money, not a ton but some and the reward is something tangible to me-priority in getting things fixed when needed so I can keep working.–I’d be a fool to switch to another company–so I don’t.

    • 3M ESPE on

      Tim,
      Great points and much appreciated. Looks like your supplier has definitely found the right mix for you.


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