1995/6 U.S. MSPPSA report on Electrophoretic Gel Media

124 pages, 170 graphs and tables

Published: January 24, 1996

Price: $2295

A whopping 82.3% of U.S. life science researchers, over 73,000 individuals, currently use electrophoresis and spend $28.3 million annually on gel media. Of these, we found that 17,800 use ready-made gels while 7,700 use these gels exclusively. This small number of users generates significant sales accounting for a $15.4 million business last year which is expected to grow by 13.1% this year. Our detailed analysis of the 1995 hand-cast gel media consumption (of acrylamide and agarose but not counting buffers, cross-linkers and other additives) measures this market at $12.9 million, with a forecast growth of +7.9% for 1996.

The 124 page study, which forms part of PhorTech's MSPPSA series, examines the installed base of gel media, including separate analyses for ready-made gels and hand-cast gel media. For each, we provide details such as gel size, percent acrylamide and media formulation (including native PAGE, SDS PAGE, gradient PAGE, electrofocusing, and various DNA gel types). Unit and dollar placements per year, market sizes and growth rates, plus unit and dollar market shares for each of these gel types have been calculated, based upon our analysis of the responses to over 3,000 surveys mailed out to a cross-section of life science researchers last winter. Our many protein electrophoresis users have proclaimed SDS PAGE as the most used technique, but the DNA electrophoresis techniques are generating several times more dollars in this market.

A surprising result is found regarding the favorite form in which gel media products are purchased. The majority of users prefer the old-fashioned method of casting gels from the basic constituents. However, over 43% of respondents indicated that they use pre-mixed solutions for gel casting, significantly higher than the use of pre-mixed powder.

Complete demographic analyses for respondents to this survey include the distribution of users by type of organization, and also areas of scientific expertise. For example, we found the academic segment to be more highly penetrated than either industry, hospitals and medical schools, or government agencies. However, those using ready-made gels were more likely to be in industry. All electrophoretic users were focused predominantly in molecular biology, but also were found in higher concentrations among biochemists, and to a lesser extent among cell biologists and immunologists.

Customer satisfaction ratings are produced for leading vendors of ready made gels and hand-cast gel media. The leading suppliers obtained perfect scores - Bio-Rad for gel media and Novex for ready-made gels. Several other suppliers performed quite well, but the range of responses did span into the unsatisfactory range. Scientists seem much more satisfied in general with gel media than with the pre-made gels, which still may have some technical difficulties. Respondents also rate leading suppliers specifically in the areas of value for money, consistent quality, fast delivery, ease of use, high resolution, application support, and wide product range. Bio-Rad and Novex achieve top positions in their respective categories by a wide margin. Both of these suppliers were ranked especially high for the quality of their products. Pharmacia (for pre-made gels) and Sigma (for gel media) also turned in respectable performances in the eyes of their customers.

The report itemizes 120 specific verbatim suggestions for improvements of gel media by current users. Respondents were concerned with pricing issues, but also voiced concern about stability and shelf-life. These same issues were mentioned in comments regarding ready-made gels. However, respondents' comparison of the performance of ready-made versus hand-cast gels, as well as reasons for not purchasing ready-made gels are sure to raise a few eyebrows.

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