Tips for Buying Market Research Reports

There are a plethora of published market research reports out there, but some of these reports aren’t from credible publishers. Here are some red flags for me.

  • I look at the pagination of the table of contents and noticed that there isn’t much content devoted to a topic or competitor. Basic I know, but if these aspects are the reason for buying the report, then maybe rethink things. For me, this lack of space often corresponds with just contact details supplied or very generic information. In this case, ask for a sample from the publisher to check the content. You can then appraise the sample to reassure yourself about the standard of English used as well. One sample I requested had such a low level of business English that it was intelligible.

  • With markets like medical devices, for instance, there are many different configurations of what is counted or researched in terms of functionality or size. Another trap I have come across is when studying the markets of mechanical devices and how they are powered eg. electric, battery, petrol, or diesel. Researchers often don’t state exactly what they are counting and for what market segment it is meaningful to.

  • Cookie cutter reports follow the same prescriptive outline - I can spot one of those a mile off. They are heavy on historical detail, the numbers are dated, and there’s nothing future-oriented. There’s little value in these often expensive market research reports IMHO. Foresight is always going to be better than hindsight to get insight and to protect market share. The ROI of you (or me!) spending time doing a recent news search and see what’s going on now is a much better option.

Data Democracy: Fighting the Good Fight

Check out Figure.NZ, a website devoted to data democracy. The aim is to make public, private and academic data about New Zealand free for all to use so that evidence-based decisions can improve lives. The website uses graphs to make the data come alive and illustrate trends that anyone can quickly understand. Sadly, the chart below demonstrates that things aren't so rosy at the moment in terms of the establishment of new businesses.

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Market Size and Market Value Tips

Market size info for small markets like New Zealand or niche products can be tricky to find. Sometimes, a best-efforts estimation is the only option. Here are some tips to help you if you need some market size or value data.

  1. Define your market first, i.e. by geography, technology, demography, use or sector and stick to it.

  2. Formulate how you will do your calculations. It should be a combination of desk research for any published information and primary analysis to back up any initial conclusions and for sense-making.

  3. Only use reputable data from secondary research. Look carefully at how they have come to their conclusions and double check it. Does it make sense? Is the data they have measured fit with your market parameters?

  4. When doing the desk research, pick up on any trend data that is coming up that will affect future market share, e.g. disruptors entering via new technology, changes in packaging needs, or trends in dietary preferences by customers. This information is valuable as an early-warning indicator of change in the market, allowing you to prepare.

  5. Once you’ve got some market size/ value numbers, make sure that you carefully cite the source data. If you need to do this exercise again, it’s a big help to have the framework of past calculations to start from, and then you can tweak if necessary.

  6. If statistical analysis isn’t your thing, then gather the data and get someone who knows how to forecast and model numbers.

  7. Be transparent - tell people it’s a ‘best efforts’ result, but show how you got to the conclusion you have and what the parameters were. Market size/value is often an educated guess as people, and the choices they make are often very fluid and can change overnight.

The Growth of the Food Kit Market: Using Google Trends

I have covered Google Trends before, but it’s an interesting tool to track what is being searched for on Google. It’s easy to track competitors or substitutes and see the number of searches being made by company name over time and by geography. Here’s an interesting graph on the two main food delivery kits in New Zealand and Uber Eats. Note the rise in searches of Hello Fresh in November - that coincides with an article in the national press comparing market leader My Food Bag with new entrant Hello Fresh. Interestingly, overseas research is pointing to the delivery of food kits and eat-at-home meals being key to growth for supermarket chains and restaurants. More consumers are staying home to eat because of the Netflix binge effect or they work from home, and don't want to fight the traffic and crowds to eat nice food.

Great Business Research Tools

I often get asked for business research on the Australian market, and one of the first places I look is Trove, the National Library of Australia's catalogue of journals and news items, much of which is now digitised. All the important business or industry journals are indexed there, so it's easy to find that background info you're after. Want the New Zealand equivalent? It's INNZ.

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