Forecasting sales by means of neuroscience


Shedding light into the details of forecasting

Replacing gut feeling with data-driven insights on physicians’ implicit willingness-to-prescribe for a global pharma client

The calculation of forecasts is often paired with a large amount of uncertainty. A global pharma client was aware of the fact that their method of deriving insights for their sales forecast is imprecise and thus asked the Deloitte Neuroscience Institute to shed light into the required forecasting numbers. As a result, the Deloitte Neuroscience Institute has conducted an Implicit Association Test (IAT) to derive a precise discount factor for each of the clients target segments.

The business issue of our client

As it is common in the pharma business, our client makes regular forecasts on drug sales volumes by assessing physicians’ willingness-to-prescribe a drug. Therefore, the client usually conducts surveys or interviews. Yet, the client is aware that physicians do not always tell the truth when asked explicitly and thus applies a discount factor on the estimate rate. However, the discount factor, i.e. the rate of pharmacists that would not prescribe the drug although having stated to do so, is usually based on gut feeling. Therefore, the Deloitte Neuroscience Institute was asked to put reliable and scientifically proven numbers on the discount factor for physicians and their individual patient segments. 

Our delivered value

With the help of the Deloitte Neuroscience Institute, the client was able to forecast with a reliable discount factor for physicians willingness-to-prescribe a certain drug to their individual patient segments. Today, our client forecasts more precise than ever and makes better business decisions due to more accurate business planning.

Our approach

In order to gain unbiased insights into physicians willingness-to-prescribe we developed a reaction-time-based online test following the method of Implicit Association Testing (IAT). Within the test we have presented different patient segments to physicians who had to react quickly on whether they would prescribe the drug or not. The underlying rational is that a physician will react the quicker the more certain he or she is to actually prescribe the drug and vice versa. This way, we were able to identify the rate of physicians that most probably would not prescribe the drug and therefore made the unconscious behavior of physicians visible to derive an accurate discount factor for our client.

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