Who are the major players?

Sometimes you quickly need to find out who the big global, regional or country players are in an industry. Here's a free search option that will provide that  - The Global 5000. The first 50 matches from a search cost nothing, but then you have to pay, and yes, that's a bit pricey. The data can then be 'sliced 'n' diced' on both public and private companies worldwide by industry, employees, and revenue, where available. Depending on what you are looking for, I think the free search option can save a lot of legwork.

What trends will affect consumers in 2018?


It’s that time of year when we look at consumer preference trends in 2017 and forecast what 2018 might be like. If you want some futuristic inspiration or need to get up-to-speed quick smart with what’s changing, try these reports on trends…

Looks like we're on the cusp of massive change! Email me (cathy@heath.co.nz) if you need help keeping up with it all. We specialise in getting rid of the all the noise, so you only get the good, life-changing insight.


What are you thinking?

With country or regional-specific sites, You.Gov has self-selecting polls on a variety of topics from how many of us fear robots taking our jobs to how many of us eat dinner in front of the TV each night. The results aren't scientific, but the information can present some really nice jumping-off points for doing more rigorous research. Here's a diagram below featuring the countries in the APAC region which feature in the surveys.

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Functionality rules!

I’m always on the hunt for cool new apps, websites or tools that will help me work smarter. Have a look at Product Hunt. It’s a daily list of the best new products or new releases. The breath of what is being developed is just amazing and great to see what features developers are adding to their products. This could give you ideas about where to take your product or service, plus offers some great competitor research insights.

What's going on in the world of venture capital?

My new favourite daily newsletter is by CB Insights (https://www.cbinsights.com/). We are living in an era of disruption with massive change occurring in sectors such as health, finance, retail and manufacturing to name a few. CB Insights have their finger firmly on the pulse, with on-point analysis, so that you can keep up. Some info is behind a paywall, but the daily newsletter is free and written in a very entertaining way. Subscribe now!

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Positioning New Zealand

The New Zealand Story (https://www.nzstory.govt.nz/pages/about) was created with extensive input from over 200 leaders from the primary sector, manufacturing, Māori, export industry, education and wider government services to promote New Zealand. Lots of good on-the-ground research here. One report about exporting to Japan reminds Kiwi's to highlight how we excel by being creative and ingenious in primary markets rather than telling them how good we are at supplying agricultural products.

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Being clever

While I prefer the fee-based analyst databases for their search capability, Smarter Analyst (https://www.smarteranalyst.com/) is a great free substitute. The analyst commentaries focus on listed U.S. companies, so the value of this resource is limited somewhat. The plus is that you can see what is happening in this market and how it could translate to where you are. These analysts often have the contacts and intimate knowledge of a market, which means you get the context to fast-forward your understanding of what's going on.

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Leave it to the smartest analyst in the world!

The old adage that if you build it, they will come is an adage that as marketer researchers we simply don’t use. Identifying a buyers' need or pain point first is crucial and then build your product or service around that by understanding what is happening in the marketplace. One of the best tools I’ve found to identify rising trends and consumer digital behaviours is the Think with Google collections of studies, analysis and reports. For example, this month I found data from Google as to what Gen Xers are watching on YouTube (turns out it is nostalgia related videos and commercials); and, the declining trends in skincare (skin bleaching, seaweed lotion and coconut oil body wraps) are all losing popularity!

Case studies, organisational charts, and free market research!

Check out our latest issue of Insights, where you will find out how to get hold of case studies that just might help give you some insight on how to solve a problem, using the benefit of others experience. No need to reinvent the wheel - ha ha!

We also feature a great resource which graphically plots where an executive fits in an organisation. That's always interesting to see who their equals are and who they report to, as you can sometimes get a feel about where the company is positioning itself. Don't forget to also see the link to where you can get some great, free market research. 

How to set up a virtual meet-up for professional groups

As co-chair of the AIIP (Association of Independent Information Professionals) Local Groups team, I recently had an article published in the Association's magazine about how to set up virtual networking groups. It's a great way for solopreneurs to discuss and motivate others, who get what they do, and face the same ups and downs in their businesses. If you'd like to explore how you can set up a virtual group, here's the PDF of my article.

Food grown in New Zealand is the best!

New Zealand is well known for the quality of it's food. It is fresh and consumers enjoy the security that food safety regulations and local provenance gives them. They often know what region the food comes from, and this brings a high level of trust and expectation to support the purchase of products.

A recent survey showed that around 70% have a clear preference to buy food such as vegetables, meat, fruit and milk which are produced in New Zealand. Around 14% of Kiwis buy New Zealand food products because they are proud of what their compatriots have gown, but 59% strongly or somewhat agree that they buy local brands because they want to support NZ business. Sounds like identifying NZ made products is an important branding tool that food producers need to include on their packaging to attract consumers.  

Made in...NZ? Preferences for Local and Global Brands

Focusing on price limits product choice in the long run

In 2015, New Zealand consumers were introduced to 13,984 new branded products. Nielsen found that only 64 (0.4%) had sales over $NZ1 million, with only 7 products being truly innovative new offerings. The rest were just line extensions. Manufacturers seem to be sticking to rather boring ways of growing their market share and in turn, reinforcing price sensitivity. However, smart, nimble small innovators have a chance to grab a slice of the market if they can look at changing demographics and target those with growing populations. Think Chinese, South Korean, Indian and Pacific Island peoples, as well as the growth in millennials and the over-50s.

Successfully using competitive intelligence

A recent article in Harvard Business Review found that 45% of competitive intelligence (CI) findings weren't used when management was making decisions about strategy. However, those companies who used the power of CI for their decision-making had four common factors:

  • The CI analyst was assigned a "sign-off" authority over major decisions.
  • Management was open to perspectives that were different from the internal consensus.
  • The analyst's report called for proactive action more than reaction.
  • The analyst was involved in product launches.

The CI analyst having sign-off for major decisions was the most important factor to getting CI used out of the four reasons above. This would indicate that the CI analyst must sit with the decision-makers and be comfortable debating and influencing others about the CI collected. They can't just drop off the slide deck and leave, but must actively champion the value and opportunity that CI brings, and make it a core component of decisions. They've also got to have "skin in the game", by having their name and research seen to be supporting decisions in a very public way that is accountable. That also helps keep the CI honest and reliable. What's not to like about that!

Avocados and other stuff

Millie is a new market research tool which gives a lot for free. It brings together market research, news, and reports in one place, with the added bonus of a robust search platform which enables you to filter out the info you don't want. When I tested 'Millie' on a search for avocados and the recent price hike, it directed me to a variety of national and international websites explaining the reasons behind the rising cost of this fruit, as well as analysts reports on large scale growers of avocados, and links to further earlier news reports. The result screen is a bit overwhelming to look at to start with, but once you get to grips with it, the information has been nicely curated, and offers text analytics too. One restriction for me was that it only covers eight sectors at the moment, but they are big ones such as food and beverage, health care, energy etc. Millie is a work-in-progress, so this may change, but even as it stands now, it is a pretty good resource for the desk researcher.

Find out how to do DIY patent searching and get country demographics easily

Our latest newsletter (Insights 13) gives some handy tips on pulling country demographic statistics on just about every country in the world. We also feature a great new DIY tool on how to find valuable patent information. A patent search can highlight who is investing in R&D to be more efficient, and where they are focusing their efforts. Finding this sort of valuable competitive intelligence is usually a job for the expert searcher, but with the tips in this slide deck, you can learn more about the information contained in a patent. As mentioned earlier, patent searching can be fraught with danger, so get in touch with me if you need assistance. I can refer you to an experienced patent researcher.

The sharing economy

Uber and Airbnb are changing the face of not only holiday travel, but business travel too. With events such as the World Cup in Brazil and the New York Marathon, these 'sharing' companies help fill the gaps of traditional accommodation and transport providers by providing personalised experiences. Now companies such as Experient, which is the world’s largest third-party meeting management company, are offering conference attendees the opportunity to book Airbnb apartments close to convention centres as well as hotels. Families traveling on holiday, while Mum or Dad go to a conference come to mind as a segment that will want this option.

Use it, or lose it

An article in the Harvard Business Review this year explored the idea that companies are spending up large on competitive analysis data and strategies, but they are not being used at the level where it’s needed. The advice is often ignored by senior management, and then companies miss out on opportunities to grow their market, or fail to notice disruptive technology taking business away from them. How can you ensure sure that managers are actually using the competitive information their analysts are producing? One way is to "audit" decisions made by managers. This is essentially finding out what information they used to make a decision, and why this decision is valid when surrounded by all the other "noise" swirling around. In turn, managers become better decision makers - they have to use competitive intelligence to plot and defend or champion what happens next. They also get a better sense of what is happening in their market, and the organisation gets ROI from its investment in market research. A win-win for everyone.



Doing retrospective competitive research

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of older versions of web pages. Business researchers, and competitive intelligence professionals can use older versions of a website for company research. I have used this website to look for deleted products and branding changes, as well as tracking pricing information. It's also been great to find the names and bio’s of past management. Not every web page is included but it’s a fantastic resource for building up a picture about an organisation, their products or employees.

How online shopping and technology is changing the way we buy

Nielsen’s recent online retail report has driven home the message that the online shopping habits of Kiwis are quickly evolving. No longer a remote set of islands unable to access the latest products, New Zealand can now provide consumers who have access to the internet with a variety of unique and often more cost effective products than found in local stores. But what is driving e-commerce for Kiwis?

The Why Behind The Online Buy summarises Nielsen’s report into a 40:40:20 split, finding that convenience, price and range are the main driving forces. Using mobile devices to shop is continuing as a growing trend with 23% of online shoppers buying via smartphones and 19% buying via tablets. Online store owners can help meet the drive for value, thanks to not having to pass on the costs incurred with a bricks and mortar store.

Christopher Adams of the New Zealand Herald last year predicted the growth of the retail trends “show rooming" and "click and collect” for online shoppers; this prediction has proven to be accurate, with a continuation of these trends well into 2015. Nielsen’s report confirms these details with 57% of shoppers having ‘show-roomed’, which is the act of finding a product in store, but then purchasing online for a lower cost.

One downfall to the online shopping trend is the large increase in product returns. Much of this can be attributed to the inability of the customer to see, touch and if applicable, try on the object for themselves, often leading to disappointment.  theregister.co.nz urges New Zealand retailers to consider interactive website features such as comprehensive zoom functions and dressing room style features to combat these high product return rates.


The benefits of a quick market scan

I've just completed a really interesting job for a team of New Zealanders who have thought up a great idea for a device and app. The thing was, they needed a quick market scan done by someone who doesn't have that emotional link to whether the idea is worth pursuing. Budget and time frames were tight too.

Here's what I found out:

  • My clients need to narrow down who their target user is, as the type of device and app is determined by developmental needs, so targetted functionality is key. It also needs to survive the "coolness" test for the users and purchasers.
  • The overseas market leader is taking steps to dictate what the materials and safety standards of these devices is going to be. This is a really smart move by this competitor - they are helping decide and drive this important concern of purchasers, plus set the standard. This gives them a lead time over others in the market, as well as positioning them as the device of choice.
  • Crowdfunding for these devices is the primary source of money for product development and marketing overseas, with the funds raised ranging from US$300,000 to US$1.2 million. This gives my clients an indication of what is likely to be needed to get their product off the ground here.
  • The main competitors are selling the products themselves via their engaging and slick websites, which use entertaining videos to sell. Social media marketing via word of mouth recommendations is absolutely critical for these potential purchasers. My client needs to understand how this type of marketing will need to be employed if they go to market.
  • The initial shipments of competitor products have sold out, and the companies concerned are taking names for a waiting list for new shipments. This indicates that there is demand for this product and the type of functionality it offers, for a premium price.

This information is the reality that my clients now need to get their head around before they spend any more money and time. Better to know now, rather than later.