“Look beneath the surface; let not the several quality of a thing nor its worth escape thee.”
-Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Roman Emperor and Philosopher

Well it’s been nearly two weeks since we co-hosted the 2008 Life Science Industry Awards and the surrounding buzz continues to be electric.  There’ve been more mentions of it in the press than in year’s past and so far more than 600 people have downloaded our free report.  I imagine that almost every life science company wants to distinguish itself in some way to secure a place in the hearts and minds of its customers. But how do companies achieve such a coveted position? Certain life science suppliers emphasize the launch of superior products whereas others focus on either the delivery of exceptional services or the creation of compelling business models. And while many suppliers are highly successful in their quest to establish themselves in the market, others seem to struggle to attain even a fraction of this recognition.

Although the Life Science Industry Awards (LSIA) acknowledge which suppliers are considered “best-in-class” in 14 separate product categories and 6 customer communications and support categories, they also present an opportunity to “look beneath the surface” at the dynamics of the supplier landscape. While little has changed with respect to the Winners in each of the 20 categories compared with the 2007 awards, tremendous insight can be gained by comparing the performance of the Finalists across such critical customer touch points as satisfaction with product features, likelihood to repurchase, willingness to recommend a supplier, and ability of a product to meet research needs.

It is “what’s beneath the surface” that really provides the details of how suppliers are perceived by their customers. These perceptions can be eminently useful in directing corporate strategies. Only when life science companies truly appreciate the forces beneath the surface can they understand how to change or improve their standing in the eyes of their customers. Scientists are more informed and educated than ever before and have the tools to verify suppliers’ claims and seek out superior alternatives. Adopting a customer-centric approach will enable companies to win additional customers and beat their competition. This strategy reminds me of the long forgotten but appropriate adage, “Grow the customer, grow the brand, grow the business.”

Now that things have calmed down a bit for us, we’ll continue this discussion next week.