Niche Building Enables Smaller Suppliers to Exist Alongside Industry Giants

Still more to talk about regarding this year’s Life Science Industry Awards…Invitrogen’s margin of victory in the Cell Culture Media and Reagents category is one of the largest across all product and service categories for the 2008 LSIA. Additionally, its CVS was the second highest of the category’s Finalists. Nevertheless, while Lonza (Cambrex) only secured 4% of the nominations, it had the highest CVS of the category and one of the highest CVS across all of the 20 LSIA categories. Its strong showing in the four customer touch points enabled Lonza to outperform BD Biosciences, which received the second-highest number of nominations for the category but had a below-average CVS. By possessing an identifiable market position, smaller suppliers can greatly improve their chances for survival and success. Their product offerings should be well aligned with the needs of the few select scientists in the market. This targeted strategy is better than a product designed to have a wide appeal; however, the competition is so fierce that suppliers struggle to survive.

Changing Supplier Landscape Opens up New Opportunities
In two categories—Protein Purification and Separation Products and RNAi—new Winners emerged: GE Healthcare for the protein category and Dharmacon for the RNAi category. In both instances, the number of nominations was critical in the final outcome as the top two contenders in each category had very similar CVS. Although ceding the Winner’s circle to GE Healthcare, Bio-Rad Laboratories performed very well across three of the four CVS indicators, especially performing better than GE Healthcare in the number of respondents who would be very likely to repurchase the company’s products. In the RNAi category, both Ambion and Dharmacon (Thermo Fisher Scientific) performed extremely well on the “willingness to recommend” indicator, but Dharmacon did somewhat better than Ambion on the “likelihood to repurchase” indicator. These results suggest that changes in both well established (i.e., protein purification and separation) and newer markets (i.e., RNAi) do occur and are governed by product performance and customer perceptions and their effects on market share. Suppliers can protect market share by monitoring their position and correcting for any weaknesses. Continuous innovation is the best way to protect market share. When leaders become complacent with their products and/or services, it becomes easier for challengers to make progress.