The Enduring Power of Branding in the Antibody Market

By Tristan Willis

March 21, 2018 -- Here at The Science Advisory Board we recognize the growing market for research antibodies. One of the first questions we asked our members was “When thinking about commercially available antibodies, which brands come to mind?” We received hundreds of brands, but about 20 were the most frequent in our “mindshare” results.

Brand Awareness

Many of our members cite that they default to using brands that they are familiar with. Abcam, Sigma-Aldrich, and Santa Cruz Biotechnology were 3 brands most recognized by our members.

Thermo Fisher Scientific is a supplier of a wide variety of different antibody brands and sub-brands.  Invitrogen is a Thermo Fisher Scientific antibody brand, with Molecular Probes and eBioscience both sub-brands under the Invitrogen umbrella. Similarly, both Lab Vision and Pierce are antibody sub-brands under the Thermo Scientific parent.

We recognized a correlation between brand awareness and brand usage. Abcam, Cell Signaling Technology, and Sigma-Aldrich are the top three brands in terms of laboratory spend on antibodies. For that reason, we believe there is a connection between “mindshare” and “share-of-wallet”.

Brand Satisfaction

When we asked our members about their overall satisfaction with research antibody suppliers, Cell Signaling Technology ranked #1, followed by Molecular Probes and Sigma-Aldrich.

Overall, our members were most satisfied with the form of antibodies offered by their supplier. We explored deeper and surveyed level of satisfaction across different features including:

  • Antibody form (e.g., whole molecule, F(ab’)2 fragment, etc.)
  • Antibody optimization for stated applications
  • Available validation data from supplier
  • Conjugation options
  • Lot-to-lot consistency
  • Multi-functionality (e.g., ELISAs, flow cytometry, Western blots, etc.)
  • Pricing
  • Sizing options (e.g., 0.25 mg, 10 tests, 0.1 ml, etc.)
  • Species cross-reactivity
  • Specificity and sensitivity

The results revealed that while Molecular Probes is the most highly rated across all performance categories, other brands have a clearly identifiable area of excellent performance.

Brand Loyalty

In order to analyze brand loyalty amongst our members, we at The Science Advisory Board used Bain & Co’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) methodology. NPS is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others.

We asked our members to indicate their willingness to recommend their primary supplier of antibodies on a 10 point scale. We categorized their scores as follows:

  • Promoters who answered 9 or 10 are enthusiastic scientists who are loyal to their supplier (repeat purchases) and encourage colleagues to do the same.
  • Passives who answered 7 or 8 are satisfied scientists, but are likely not completely loyal to their supplier and are vulnerable to switching.
  • Detractors who answered 6 or lower are dissatisfied scientists who likely will switch suppliers and will influence others to defect if possible.

This study found the average NPS for the nine leading brands in the antibody market to be 6.8 – a score we found low in the life science tools industry.

Ultimately, our members are focused on using an antibody supplier who maintains availability, consistency, and high-quality antibodies. What brands come to mind when you purchase research antibodies? Start the discussion in our Forums!!


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