The issues cited as the main influences that shape the industry haven’t changed that much in the past year, although this list could change dramatically next year when you factor in the Affordable Care Act and concerns over the product pipeline (Figure 8). For the fourth consecutive year, unease over the regulatory environment tops the list but only by a single percent over product pipeline. No other factor has even been within 8% of the regulatory environment since we started this survey. It is obvious that visions of a dry pipeline are weighing heavily on the minds of brand managers. Another factor that became more important in the last year is competition, which saw an increase of 5% and surpassed the influence of mergers.
When asked to predict (using our 100-point scoring system) the most likely factors to influence the industry next year, concerns over the product pipeline came in first with a 30% rating. This marks the first time ever that brand managers have voiced a concern greater than the regulatory environment. But after examining last year’s predictions, who knows if our respondents have a credible crystal ball, as they underestimated the effect of the product pipeline (predicted 23% vs. the actual 28%) while overestimating the influence of the political environment (22% vs. 18%).
Once again, brand managers expect the political environment to play a larger role next year than it did in the previous one. It is important to note that this survey was completed before the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, but it was still conducted amid the constant speculation of how the Court would rule. It is possible that the pending decision influenced respondents’ estimation of the impact of politics on the industry. Or it could be the fact that this is an election year and a possible change in Presidents could result in a change of healthcare legislation. Time will tell.