ARLINGTON, Va. -- The promise of RNA interference (RNAi) therapeutics to combat human illnesses such as Huntington's disease, Lou Gehrig's disease and hepatitis C has vastly increased scientific interest in the field. In fact, according to a recent survey, 65 percent of RNAi researchers only began using these techniques in the past 12 months. Increased activity by these current practitioners as well as an influx of new users will fuel rapid growth in the market for RNAi research products over the next year.
These findings were recently published by BioInformatics, LLC in the report, "The Market for RNA Interference Products: Challenges and Opportunities," which is designed to help life science suppliers understand and respond to the needs of scientists using RNAi technology. Based on a 35-question survey of more than 500 scientists who currently use small interfering RNA (siRNA), the report details RNAi experimental design with a special focus on customers' experiences with pre-designed, validated or library siRNA duplexes, chemically synthesized custom siRNAs and transfection reagents. Additionally, another 360 scientists who plan to use siRNA within the next year help shed light on the future direction of the market.
"By better understanding the preferences, needs and expectations of researchers, RNAi product suppliers can make refinements to existing tools as well as design new tools that support this technology," said Bill Kelly, president of BioInformatics, LLC.
This fast-growing market offers numerous opportunities for life science suppliers and has engendered interesting dynamics among competitors. According to the scientists surveyed, Ambion, Dharmacon (a subsidiary of Fisher Scientific International), Invitrogen and Qiagen dominate the market for RNAi products, however, their positions vary across market segments and geographic regions. For instance, while Ambion, Invitrogen and Qiagen are used equally in academia and industry, Dharmacon was cited as a supplier far more frequently by industrial researchers than by academic researchers. Results also indicate that Invitrogen has a consistent share of the market worldwide, while Ambion and Dharmacon are more frequently used in North America than other regions and Qiagen has a stronger market presence in Europe.
Market leaders also vary by specific product categories with some competitors specializing in one type of product, while others compete by offering a full line of RNAi products. For example, Dharmacon is the leading supplier of both pre-designed, validated or library siRNA duplexes as well as chemically synthesized custom siRNA duplexes, but the company has not established itself as a supplier of transfection reagents. On the other hand, Invitrogen is the top supplier of transfection reagents and has also become a major supplier of siRNA products following last year's acquisition of Sequitur and the Stealth RNAi technology.
To understand the factors that influence scientists to choose one supplier over another, the report analyzes the relationship between the importance, expectation and performance of various supplier attributes. Several attributes such as quality control and technical service/support for scientific questions were found to be important to scientists, however, suppliers aren't meeting their customers' expectations -- indicating key areas where suppliers need to focus. The report also evaluates the performance of leading suppliers with regards to less tangible, but critically important, elements of customer value such as customer loyalty and retention -- finding that some companies stand out above, and others below, the overall market average.
"Our use of attitudinal and behavioral measurements in this survey provides management with a powerful tool to segment customers by their degree of loyalty, evaluate the effectiveness of initiatives to meet customer expectations and predict future corporate performance," said Kelly.