The Academy of Osseointegration
December 20, 2010
European and North American implant prices decline
By Emily MacIntosh, Millennium Research Group
The economic downturn strongly impacted consumers and companies worldwide, and now its effects on the dental implant industry have become evident. Since 2009, dental implant prices have declined considerably in both the North American and European markets. This occurred as dentists attempted to maintain profitability during the economic crisis by increasingly purchasing implants from low-cost manufacturers and opting to purchase products offered at greater discounts.
In most countries, dental implants are an out-of-pocket expense for patients, with little to no reimbursement from health care plans. Consequently, patients became hesitant to undergo dental implant surgery during the economic recession, and dentists were forced to shift their focus.
In the past, dentists were mainly concerned about product attributes and high quality service. By 2009, however, there was a greater importance placed on price, with many dentists switching to lower priced manufacturers such as MIS Implants Technologies and Implant Direct. Industry participants also reported that many premium-priced players offered significant discounts in order to compete.
The focus on price made the dental implant market a very attractive arena for smaller, lower-priced manufacturers, which are often domestic players. As a result, the average selling price (ASP) for North American implant fixtures decreased 4.9%, while the European ASP fell 3.3% over the past year.
North America and Europe were not uniformly affected by the economic downturn, with some countries suffering greater hardship than others. Certain countries, such as the U.S. and Spain, saw average implant fixture selling prices decline more severely, by 6.1% and 3.7%, respectively, in tandem with their contracting national economies.
In contrast, Luxembourg and Switzerland experienced no change in dental implant fixture ASPs. Prior to the economic crisis, these countries saw consistent, strong ASP growth due to their rapid adoption of new, more expensive technologies. Stagnant ASPs, therefore, signaled a hesitancy to adopt these products given economic uncertainty. However, dental practitioners were not demanding deep discounts.
As the economy improves, the markets will polarize. Many dentists will be unwilling to return to premium products because procedure prices will have to be increased to protect profit margins. The low-cost competitors have successfully leveraged the economic downturn to secure a permanent position in the market, particularly in well-established areas where a large number of dentists are placing implants, such as Germany.
Other dentists, however, will return to premium brands that offer the most advanced products. Dentists will select these manufacturers for their new technologies, strong customer support, and educational resources.
Manufacturers competing in the premium segment, such as Straumann and Astra Tech, will garner the most business from dentists new to implantology, because these dentists often develop brand loyalty for the products they used during their education. Manufacturers who invest in training programs or partner with universities will therefore be best positioned for growth in the premium segment through 2014.
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