[CASE STUDY] Using an Online Community to Launch a New Birth Control Option

August 13, 2021

Executive Summary

A pharmaceutical company was planning to launch a new birth control option. Leger created a short-term online community of women and used the data collected to identify the patient journey for choosing a new birth control option (including pain points, barriers to adoption, and when they need information) to advise the company on which informational materials patients need, and when.

A few years ago, a successful Canadian pharmaceutical company was launching a new birth control option. To help them with this launch, they wanted to understand the journey women go through when deciding whether to use birth control and women’s receptiveness to a new birth control option.


The Canadian birth control market, dominated by oral contraceptives, offers patients a wide variety of options. Typically, women go to their GP for a prescription, and in many cases, their GP recommends a few different options.

When launching a new product in market, it is critical to offer patients and healthcare professionals clear information to help them understand differences between the new product versus the established birth control products.

A doctor explaining which birth control option is best for her patient

To ensure a successful launch of their new birth control option, the pharmaceutical company wanted to conduct research to understand:

  • Key points for consumers along the birth control journey from the decision to use birth control to usage
  • Influencers of birth control decisions (family, friends, healthcare providers, social media, etc.)
  • Information needs to help women arrive at a decision on which option to use
  • Reactions and receptivity to the new birth control option


Our Healthcare Team recommended a private short-term online community for this research.

The online community enabled the participants to interact with each other through different activities and tasks and interact privately with the moderator to discuss more sensitive topics. It was made up of a diverse group of over 50 women aged 18-30 from across Canada. Some were currently using contraception, others were not, and others had considered or tried using contraception in the last 3 years.

Before participating, participants were given specific guidelines for the online community and tasks to complete. The moderator (a senior member of our Healthcare Team) oversaw the community, ensured the tasks were clearly explained, probed for further detail where needed, and kept an eye out for any issues (such as adverse effects reported for certain products).

A young woman researching new birth control options on her laptop

Why did we recommend a birth control online community for this research?

  • It facilitated a way to dive deeper into the birth control conversation with participants.
  • Patients had more time to think about their answers and were able to give feedback over several days, resulting in richer data and eliminating the pressure of coming up with feedback on the spot.
  • The pharmaceutical company was able to observe the online community at any time and ask the moderator to probe for more feedback if they wanted to explore a certain topic in more detail. Note: The participants’ identities were kept confidential, and the company could not interact with them directly.

“This online community provided our clients with rich insights into the patient journey to birth control and helped to identify the profile of the patient who had the greatest interest in this new birth control option. From the patient’s perspective, the community allowed them to reflect upon their journey and share with others who had also gone through a similar journey. We used a variety of techniques within the community to get at the underlying emotions for their journey, including more projective techniques such as ‘if your birth control could talk, what would it say’, and having patients choose images that help them describe their attitudes towards using birth control. All these allowed us to dig deeper into the emotional reasons for their birth control choices,” noted Marjut Huotari, Vice-President – Healthcare Insights.

How was feedback collected?

Our Healthcare Team used several online community features to solicit qualitative and quantitative feedback from participants:

1. Challenges – a more qualitative approach
  • Enabled the moderator to ask the participants open-ended questions
  • Participants could also see others’ responses, leave comments, and have conversations
2.  Questionnaire – a more quantitative approach
  • Participants had to answer each question in a questionnaire format, including a mix of closed-ended and open- ended questions
  • Participants could not see others’ responses
3.  Forum
  • Enabled participants to start new conversations with other community members and comment on each others’ posts
  • The moderator was able to add additional questions in the forum when they noticed certain themes emerging within the community
4.  Journal
  • Allowed participants to privately share information with the moderator (which was not visible to other participants
  • Helped with gaining a deeper understanding of more sensitive topics
5.  Quick Polls
  • Enabled the moderator to ask participants close-ended quantitative questions
  • Helped to keep participants engaged

After the online community concluded, the moderator analyzed all the data and provided the pharmaceutical company with a detailed report summarizing the patient journey and key findings.

The Key Takeaways

1. A Patient Journey Map, Including Key Touchpoints 

We provided the pharmaceutical company with a patient journey map that included all the steps women take in their birth control journey. The journey map identified touchpoints where women are looking for information and barriers to adopting the new birth control option. This map enabled the pharmaceutical company to create informational materials tailored to patients’ needs.

2. Patient Profiles of Those Most Interested in the New Birth Control Option

We also created patient profiles for women interested in the new birth control option, including which features most motivated them to accept the new option. These profiles helped the pharmaceutical company understand what is most important to prospective users.

3. An Understanding of What Needs to Be Communicated to Patients and Physicians

The online community enabled the pharmaceutical company to see firsthand how patients communicate about their birth control journey in their own words. This helped the company create relevant, clear informational materials that made sense to potential new users.

The Outcome

Based on the insights gathered through the online community, the pharmaceutical company created various informational materials about their new birth control option to assist patients and physicians. Following the research, the company successfully launched the product in market.

Our client noted, “I want to reiterate how happy I was with this format. It’s great to have the combination of descriptive and in-depth text of the participants, but also to get some sort of quant with the reports. And the participation was good!”

A doctor showing her patient a new birth control option


We can create a customized online community for the population you want to speak with, whether it is the general population or patients with a rare condition. Please fill in the form below to contact us.

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