1995/6 U.S. MSPPSA report on Blotting & Hybridization

107 pages, 105 graphs and tables

Published: July 12, 1996

Price: $2295

Although many are quick to forecast its demise, a substantial 68.6% of U.S. life science researchers, over 61,000 individuals, currently rely on blotting and hybridization techniques. Our detailed analysis of the market for 1995 puts combined instrumentation and blotting media sales at under $50 million. However, we have measured significant changes since our earlier 1993/4 U.S. report on the same subject that readers should be aware of.

The 107 page study, which forms part of PhorTech's MSPPSA series, examines recent purchases of five classes of blotting and hybridization instrumentation (electro-blotting units, vacuum blotters, dot/slot blotters, hybridization ovens, and UV crosslinkers) together with current consumption of six categories of blotting media (nitrocellulose, supported nitrocellulose, charge-modified nylon, uncharged nylon, PVDF membranes, and blotting papers), measures historic growth rates, assesses the attitudes and expectations of a cross-section of researchers in the US, and compares the results with a survey conducted for the European and US markets one and two years ago. Significant changes in this market can readily be seen from the data and the impact of these changes on future market trends is discussed.

Respondents are also questioned regarding expected future purchases of instruments and blotting media and are asked specifically what instruments and suppliers they are considering. Through the analysis of this data, future projections concerning this changing market can be reasonably made. The results clearly show that yesterday's winners will not be tomorrow's winners and that there should be considerable life in some overlooked products from the past. Especially impressive is the number of electroblotters being considered for future purchase.

Supplier market shares are calculated for the installed base of all instruments in both units and dollars as well as for the installed base for individual instrument categories. Bio-Rad had the greatest number of blotting instruments mentioned while Stratagene led for the hybridization instruments. Similarly, overall blotting media market shares (both unit and dollar) as well as supplier shares for individual categories of blotting media are also measured. Respondents' annual consumption for blotting media by category and brand are measured in both standard sheets and dollars expended. We see tremendous changes in market position in several important categories of membranes - changes which players in this market may only be distantly aware. Schleicher & Schuell turned out to be dollar market leader for nitrocellulose-based membranes, Amersham for nylon and Millipore for PVDF. Surprisingly, Sigma, not Whatman, came in as the dollar share leader for blotting paper.

We have also added a new question this year on the brand and type of power supply used for electroblotting - which shows Bio-Rad now dominating this market segment.

Respondents are segmented both by their scientific discipline and by the organization where they work. Most of the researchers surveyed are molecular biologists in academic settings. They are also questioned regarding the applications for which they use blotting and hybridization techniques and the percent of their blotting work that involves the use of radioisotopes. Apparently, the use of radioisotopes is still strong, depite the intimation from suppliers to the contrary.

Customer satisfaction ratings are produced for leading vendors of blotting and hybridization instrumentation as well as blotting media manufacturers. Respondents were queried as to why they selected their brand of blotting instrumentation and the relevance of technical specifications might surprise readers. Respondents were asked whether they would purchase these same brands again and to explain their reasoning. The verbatim and unedited comments make for lively reading and a better understanding of the dynamics of this market.

Additionally, we calculated satisfaction ratios from the number of dissatisfied customers for each brand of instrumentation and media relative to the total number of users for each brand. In this way, we highlight those suppliers who have satisfaction scores significantly below average and project that these companies will lose share in the immediate future. Achieving perfect satisfaction scores for instrumentation were Schleicher & Schuell, Pharmacia, Bellco and Millipore. The suppliers leading for membranes were Bio-Rad, Life Technologies and Stratagene. Overall, the satisfaction rating were extremely high, much more so than we have seen in the past.

We also asked respondents to rank eight instrumentation suppliers (or a nineth write-in) in seven key areas including ease of use, versatility, reliable quality, value for money, innovation, service & support, and commitment to the field. Not only can we find the leading suppliers in each key area, but we can use the results to pinpoint each major supplier's areas of strength and weakness. Bio-Rad received the most votes in all seven categories typically with an strong lead. Their weakest area was value for money, consistent with a leadership profile. They were followed by Hoefer, who has significantly improved their performance over previous years. As usual in these reports, we project that several suppliers with mediocre to poor scores and no bright spots ought to cut their losses and leave the market. These included some well-known suppliers, who did not fare very well relative to the blotting giants.

We repeat this analysis for blotting media suppliers covering six major companies (or a seventh write-in choice) analyzing five key areas: value for money, consistent quality, rapid delivery, application support, and width of product range. As in the instrumentation rankings, a single company turns in an outstanding score leading in all five key areas. This company is Schleicher & Schuell which leads over many of the other major suppliers such as Amersham, Bio-Rad and Millipore.

Finally, we solict specific suggestions for improvements of blotting instrumentation and blotting media and provide pages of unedited verbatim comments. Cost seemed not to be an issue for instrument purchase but was predominant in the area of membranes, repeated by almost one out of three respondents.

To our knowledge, this is the only series of reports that address this key area of research, invaluable information for instrument manufacturers and reagent suppliers alike. The report details a profound shift in attitudes and usage rates since our 1993 study and is required reading for companies hoping to remain successful in this changing arena.

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