Who is the member for traditional braces market and for Invisalign?
Members for Invisalign’s Braces Market
The patient marks the beginning and end of the channel flow in the Invisalign process, seeking a service for malocclusion treatment from their orthodontist. Customers of Invisalign are incentivized by the nearly invisible look, removable while eating ease, and hygiene of the aligners.
As for the customer, the orthodontist determines whether or not Invisalign is the appropriate solution. If suitable, the orthodontist will proceed with photographs, X-rays, impressions of dental arches, a wax bite and an Invisalign prescription for the patient. This information is then sent to the next channel member in Santa Clara for processing. The orthodontist also has to make adjustments and corrections to the proposal after they are created in Pakistan.
The Santa Clara headquarters serves as central point between all channel members. Once Invisalign receives the patient’s information from the orthodontist, employees analyzes the data and constructs plaster and computer models of the current dentition. When completed, this model is forwarded to Pakistan for analysis.
* Software Developers
The patient’s treatment plan is designed in Pakistan, which entails simulated tooth movements for each of the two weeks for the entire treatment process. Once approved by Invisalign and the orthodontist, these molds are then outsourced to the next channel in Mexico for production.
* Manufacturers (Mexico)
Aligners are created from the molds received. They are trimmed, cleaned, polished and inspected before they are shipped directly to the orthodontist, which then forwards to the end customer.
Members for Traditional Braces Market
Similar to Invisalign, the customer or patient starts and ends the channel flow in the traditional braces process. The patient may either inquire or be referred by their dentist to seek treatment.
The patient visits their general dentist and if malocclusion is diagnosed, a referral is made to an orthodontist.
In the initial visit with the orthodontist, X-rays, photographs and dental moldings are collected from the patient. A treatment plan is created and in the next visit, brackets are cemented to each tooth and linked with an arch wire.
Question No 4
Are there any gaps in the channel? Are channel members performing functions that Invisalign intends them to do? If not, then Why? Answer
* Capturing the Existing Market
This is a bit unexpected, considering the many compelling advantages the product itself has over traditional braces. May be the gap exists because of deficiency in customer mental satisfaction level or due to the lack of awareness and trust on Align systems.
* Capturing the Potential market
Indeed, only a relatively small proportion of this potential population seeks treatment because of the drawbacks associated with conventional treatment, but Invisalign’s process overcomes many of these shortcomings. This gap might be attributed to the orthodontists and the media advertisement, which is focused on raising awareness, and describes advantages over the conventional method (instead of brand benefits).
* Delivery Incentives
A possible gap in the delivery of the offering may shoot from the underlying economic incentive for orthodontists. So short of the orthodontists possessing very high brand loyalty or customers specifically requesting the Invisalign treatment, the promotion to customers breaks down here. In addition, the ClinCheck simulation takes 3-4 weeks to complete. They may find a way to give incentive to Pakistan to turn around the simulations faster to cut down on production time.
* Production Process Time
Invisalign has essentially inserted itself right in the middle of the traditional treatment process. Also, the procedure is entirely customized to each patient. These two facts combined create a longer supply chain that is subject to slow down the production. The Invisalign process includes three centers. The entire process took up to six weeks.
Question No 5
Are channel power sources affecting Invisalign’s success? If so, then how? Answer
Perhaps the greatest power source affecting Invisalign’s success is the orthodontist. An orthodontist stands in between Align and the patient and exercise the power of his expertise. The two customer segments (health conscious and beauty conscious) value their orthodontist’s opinion. That’s why orthodontists have higher profit margins as compared to Invisalign.
Invisalign have given “exclusive” distribution rights to orthodontists. So, they have more power. Dentists are mostly the intermediaries who refer the patients to orthodontists and then orthodontists refer patients to Align Corporation for Invisalign systems. The power of Dentists may be limited or actually they are the intermediaries who are performing the role of referrals. When they feel unsatisfied or their profit margins decrease, they also try to reduce the profit margins of Align Corporation by not referring the patients to orthodontists.
* Sales Force
Invisalign’s sales force uses an exhausting structure. They are not giving the incentives to their sales force. The company is relying more on doctors, dentists, website and orthodontists instead of their sales force. The sales force is unmotivated and that’s why they are affecting Invisalign’s success.
Patient conformity affects Invisalign’s success because of the high degree of participation required for treatment as aligners were removable at the patient’s discretion. Some orthodontists did not like being associated with a treatment that could fail from no doing of their own. Therefore, patients show a sort of power–doctors did not want to be “associated” with them.
Question No 6
What would you do to complete conversion?
We propose that Invisalign’s offering is closer to the growth stage in the product life cycle than it is to the introduction stage. Marketing channels should change as the product moves along in its cycle. We suggest that dentists must administer the full process. Other suggestions are given below which if the company adopts in future then definitely the profitability and customer base will increase in the near future and the profit margins of all intermediaries will be maximized.
* Intensive distribution
Align should move from selective distribution to intensive. The increased number of retailers (dentists and orthodontists) makes it easier and more likely for patients to receive treatment (enhance spatial convenience). The increased distribution should drive prices down as retailers compete for customers.
* Better Incentives
Dentists are incentivized by volume of patients and perform non-specialized tasks that require less treatment, all opposite of the orthodontists. This match brilliantly with the Align’s offering. In fact, some of the characteristics seen as unattractive from the orthodontists would be viewed as benefits for dentists.
* Target Customers
The offering can be adjusted to match the needs and wants of the various segments of customers. Each patient segment (prior use, beauty and health conscious) has different preferences and a varied tendency to buy, as would the retailers (dentists and orthodontists). The other side to this is Align can “fire” bad orthodontists
* Brand Benefits
Because brand awareness is achieved (80 percent), advertisement should shift focus from aesthetic advantages over the traditional system to brand benefits. The existing approach targets the existing market. They must position their product on the basis of brand benefits and try to ensure the targeted customers that Invisalign is the best suitable solution.