Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Dental Purchasing Habits in the United States
The survey on Dental Purchasing Habits in the United States was conducted by Dentalcompare, the leading online product information resource for the dental industry, to better understand the how dental practices purchase products.
The focus of the survey was to determine the information needs of practicing dentists, both currently and how they are changing. It was also designed to better understand the product discovery and purchasing process in the dental practice. The survey helped determine which staff members were involved in making a purchase decision and the most common method used for acquiring products. For the survey, three product types were defined:
Materials – consumable products such as cements, resins, gloves, masks, sheaths, burs, etc. Equipment – products that have longer usage cycles, such as chairs, lights, cabinets, handpieces, compressors, etc.
Technology – products that revolve around technology, such as CAD / CAM, digital radiography, practice management software, lasers, etc.
Target Audience & Collection Process
Practicing dentists within the United States were targeted in order to provide data on purchasing habits in practices. Conducted over a two-month period, from March 15, 2012 through April 15, 2012, the survey was deployed through multiple channels including the Dentalcompare email list (22,902), social media (1,736 Facebook Likes and 1,933 Twitter Followers), and to the ADA email list (45,721). Respondents each received a $5 Starbucks Gift Card and were entered to win an iPad. 1,048 respondents participated in the survey, of which 754 were practicing dentists in the United States. 747 United States dentists fully completed the survey.
When asked about how a dentist consumes media, most spend between 1 and 5 hours a week viewing product information and most view it via printed publications and on a computer. On a 5 point scale of very satisfied to dissatisfied most respondents felt the information provided was just satisfactory. Most feel the information they do find is too influenced by manufacturers and is not presented in a way they find the most relevant.
The majority of dentists own tablets and/or smartphones which they use for their business, however they do not use these devices to view dental related product information. While 55% do not use mobile applications in their practice, 74% felt that a patient education application would be the most beneficial.
50% of respondents start the product discovery process because they want to use better products and/or materials in their practice. 20% indicated they will begin the process after others have had success with it. The biggest challenge dentists face when looking for product information is incomplete information from sales reps – with nearly 60% responding as such. Unsurprisingly, nearly 42% list “going online” as the first step in looking for a new product, second highest with 20% was discussing with colleague. The majority of dentists feel that an opinion from colleagues is the most helpful information when doing product discovery, closely followed by pricing and reviews.
The majority of dentists purchase materials every 1-6 months, equipment 12 months or more and technology 12 months or more. This coincides with most practices implementing a new piece of equipment and/or technology 1–2 times a year at most, and a material 3–5 times. Most expect to spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on new materials, equipment and technology this year.
When looking to purchase a product, the biggest challenge they face is finding trusted reviews on the product, followed by having a trial period with the product. Colleague feedback is very valuable at the purchasing decision stage, just as it is in the product discovery stage. Sales reps and key opinion leaders also play an important role in helping the dentist purchase products. Surprisingly, office staff typically plays a minor role in making purchase decisions.
The vast majority of dentists do all of the purchasing in their practice, including new products and reorders. When a member of the office staff did participate in purchasing, it was most often the dental assistant purchasing materials. Once a dentists decided to purchase a product nearly 54% prefer a visit or call from a sales rep. Just as with finding dental product information, most are just satisfied with their current method of purchasing products.