89B-The Exceptional Growth of a Price Leader Product

In our terminology, a Price Leader product is a low-end competitor in the market place. It competes against both other Price Leader products and against Standard Leader products, which are the industry leading products.

There are two types of Price Leader products. They differ from one another in the benefits they offer the user and the buyer of the product. The user and the buyer may be the same person but the activities of each create different needs. The first type of Price Leader, a Stripper product, offers both the user and the buyer of the product fewer benefits than does the Standard Leader product. The second type of Price Leader product, the Predator product, offers the user the same benefits as the Standard Leader product but offers the buyer fewer benefits. Stripper products, as a group, usually have less than 15% of the total market’s unit sales. Predator products would also usually have a minority market share, though they may be on their way to becoming very powerful Standard Leader products as their buyer benefits increase.

Recently, the Deloitte’s Center for Health Solutions reported that 750M Americans traveled abroad for medical care in 2007. The same group predicts that, by 2010, nearly 6MM Americans will travel outside the U.S. seeking medical treatment. This is called “medical tourism.” It is a Predator product. Its Function benefits for the user are the same as those of the Standard Leader product, health care in the United States. The U.S. Standard Leader product is holding a high price umbrella over this new Price Point. This Predator’s buyer benefits, however, are considerably less than those of the Standard Leader product. The customer must travel in order to obtain the service, so its Convenience is lower. Also, because the services are provided in a foreign land, there are fewer Reliability benefits with the product than with the Standard Leader product.

The advantage that all Price Leader products have is their low price. In this example we can see that the low price is powerful indeed to produce such a growth rate in medical tourism.

Over time, the buyer disadvantages of medical tourism will decline due to the fact that many people will have tried it. These people will convince their peers that it is a safe and worthwhile product, reducing Reliability disadvantages.

Eventually, this Price Leader healthcare product will put pressure on both the pricing and the current business model for the Standard Leader’s equivalent services.

Posted 4/2/09

Update:

Since 2009, medical tourism has certainly grown, though not at anywhere near the rate forecast in 2009. Still, the industry is promising high growth rates in 2022 as Americans’ quality concerns gradually ebb.

In 2019, an estimated 1.9 million Americans traveled abroad for medical treatment. Market growth is variously estimated at 16 to 32% per year.  The key driver, of course, is cost savings. For example, an angioplasty in the US costs an average of $55,000. This cost compares to an average cost of $3000 in Malaysia. Average cost savings across all medical tourism procedures range from 55 to 70% of the US cost.

Inhibiting this growth, is a US patient’s concern about the quality of care compared to the quality of care in the US. This concern is gradually declining as major US medical centers establish offshore facilities and foreign medical centers provide increasing numbers of US trained and certified medical professionals. Several US medical centers, including Harvard, Boston University, Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic, have established hospitals and clinics outside of the United States, hoping to capitalize on local and foreign medical tourism.   Many overseas hospitals are staffed in part by physicians and other health professionals who were trained in US hospitals. One hospital in India has 200 US trained board-certified surgeons.

THE SOURCES FOR STRATEGYSTREET.COM: For over 30 years we observed the evolution of more than 100 industries, many hostile.  We put their facts into frameworks applicable to all industries and found patterns.  Strategystreet.com describes the inductive results of these thousands of observations and their patterns.