Dentists reported to favor premium implant brands

Dentists are starting to favor name-brand implants such as Straumann and Astra Tech over their less-expensive competitors, according to a report by Millennium Research Group (MRG).

MRG surveys general dental practitioners, periodontists, prosthodontists, and oral maxillofacial surgeons twice a year to determine physician perceptions of dental implant companies and their products. Perceptions of brands have improved in the first half of 2010 compared to late 2009, especially in Europe and Japan, according to the report.

Companies with lower-priced brands saw slight declines in perception attribute scores for value-added offerings, such as enhanced customer service, new technologies, and training programs, the survey found.

"Dental physicians are recognizing the value-added services that the premium manufacturers provide," said Sana Siddiqui, manager of the dental division at MRG. "During the depressed economic conditions of 2009, the value of these services was overshadowed by the high price of premium dental implants. As the economy started recovering, attitudes toward premium brands improved."

The change has not taken hold everywhere, though. "Despite these improvements, however, many dental practitioners still intend on purchasing lower-priced products," said Siddiqui. "They are not confident enough about economic recovery to make the change just yet."

In Europe, many low-priced domestic competitors that scored well in the third quarter of 2009 saw a decline in customer loyalty metrics by the second quarter of 2010, according to the report.

Dental practitioners noticed domestic firms lacked customer support services compared to foreign premium manufacturers, it said.

This trend was more prominent in Europe and Japan than in North America because higher-priced manufacturers in the U.S. offered significant discounts to help spur implant sales during the recession, according to MRG. So in North America, perceived company performance did not shift much among the key dental implant competitors, but most premium brands saw an improvement on perceptions of pricing.

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