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Market research

Identify emerging trends and developments

All businesses should carry out some market research as part of their business and marketing plan. Market research will show the emerging trends and developments in the economic sector you are about to enter, identify competitors and show who your customers or clients are likely to be.

Who produces market reports?

A number of companies carry out a rolling programme of market research (and/or compile published information from various sources) and publish the results as market or industry reports. Below are some of the better-known market research companies that offer a wide range of published market reports.

Mintel

A leading supplier of media, product and consumer intelligence, Mintel publishes over 500 reports a year, providing expert analysis on both European and US markets.

Central to its brand is the Mintel Market Report. Each one contains market size and trends data, forecasts, information about participating companies and detailed consumer research. It also produces Special Reports, which examine the UK as a whole, our lifestyles, attitudes, hopes and fears.

In 2001, Mintel branched out into European reports by acquiring the Corporate Intelligence Group (CIG). The brands Retail Intelligence and Travel & Tourism Intelligence have been retained and European Consumer Report have since been added to the range.

Product research is provided via its Global New Products Database, which details worldwide product innovation in consumer packaged goods markets. Featuring pictures, ingredients, details and descriptions of all key new products, the database provides users with daily updates and an e-mail alert service.

Key Note (ICC)

Key Note reports cover a wide range of information on individual market sectors, for example lingerie, house building, the chemicals industry. It has over 350 current titles, with approximately 18 new or updated titles produced per month.

Reports are presented in a standard format: industry structure, market size and trends, recent developments, future prospects, and further sources of information.

Market Reports Plus provide additional information on particularly diverse or dynamic sectors, for example snack foods, public houses. Market Reviews provide a broader perspective where related industries are brought together under one title, for example UK DIY and home improvements.

There is also a range of special and European titles; for example, Vegetarian Foods, Telecoms in Europe. Reports are available on CD-ROM and online. Free executive summaries and contents pages can be viewed and downloaded online.

Euromonitor

Euromonitor is a major independent publisher of market analysis reports, as well as online databases, directories, books and journals. Euromonitor's research covers more than 300 markets worldwide in the consumer, industrial and service sectors.

It publishes around 400 market reports, which are available in hard copy, on CD-ROM or via the Internet. The contents pages and sample pages of reports can be viewed online. Only data that is downloaded is paid for.

Tailor-made reports are also available so that individuals can select the information they would like to receive.

MSI Marketing Research for Industry

MSI produces reports on specialist industrial and business-to-business markets. Major subjects include: building and construction, healthcare, environmental services, distribution, transport and infrastructure. MSI has 300 current reports. Popular titles are rewritten on an annual basis, while others are updated every 18 months to two years.

Each report typically follows the same format: a section on the economy, detailed information on the specific market segment, and market forecasts.

MSI reports are currently available in hard copy and on disk or via e-mail in pdf format.

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How can I gain access to market reports?

Hard copies obtained directly from the publisher

Publishers will send out a catalogue or list of their reports, usually free of charge, on request. Up-to-date reports can be very expensive to buy, but there are often discounts for older reports or for particular organisations.

Downloading reports from the internet

The standard method of obtaining market reports nowadays is to access and download them via the internet. Payment is usually made immediately by credit or debit card.

Visiting your local library

Reports are often kept by local reference or university libraries

Directories and indices such as Marketsearch, Marketing Surveys Index, Reports Index and Findex can be used to identify appropriate reports. These publications are often overly complicated, so it might be easier to identify a report from a publisher's list and then place a request at the library.

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Where can I get statistical information?

Government sources

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) provides a wide range of statistical information covering economic and social trends. A lot of information is now available free on the ONS website. The website is divided into themes and the 'Commerce, energy and industry' and 'Economy' themes provide general information relevant to business. Other themes are more sector specific, for example 'Agriculture, fishing and forestry' and 'Transport, travel and tourism'. For information that is not available in this way, your local library is likely to provide a wide range in hard copy format.

Local authorities

Local authorities vary in their production of statistical information and you should contact your local authority to find out what is available. Local authority annual reports, for instance, may contain information on the population, (for example living standards, housing), the economy (employment, tourism) and the region as a whole (transport and telecommunications).

Online and electronic statistical sources

The range of statistics available online is constantly expanding. In addition many statistical databases can be accessed on CD-ROM. Many electronic sources use come of the official data that has been mentioned above. While increased availability of online sources makes the information more accessible and easily manipulated, there are still problems. Online and electronic sources, particularly online databases, are mainly used by the corporate sector - large financial/management institutions, economists and market researchers. They tend to be fairly expensive and uneconomical for the small business, which usually only wants information related to a narrow area. However, some examples of useful online sources include:

  • UpMyStreet - online postcode-specific local demographic and economic information, covering population levels, income, spending habits and so on. See upmystreet.com for further details.
  • NOMIS - online government statistics covering demographics, employment, geographic information, etc, which may be unpublished elsewhere. Accessed through the NOMIS website.
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) - the OECD website provides a huge range of free statistics related to international economic indicators. Coverage includes agriculture, food, science and technology. Go to www.oecd.org for further information.

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What market and business information is available on the Internet?

  • Statistics. Some online businesses, trade associations and official government sites provide free industry statistics and trends that can be accessed by the general public, for example the ONS website.
  • News. There are a host of online newspapers and news sites providing the latest business information. Many have archives that can also be searched and accessed free of charge such as the BBC, the Financial Times and the Telegraph newspapers.
  • Company Information. Some websites provide databases of annual company reports that can be searched for free, for example CAROL Company Annual Reports Online and Hoovers.
  • Directories. A number of useful directories are available online covering a wide range of information from company data to suppliers' databases. Some of the bigger company directories such as Kompass and Dun and Bradstreet's Who Owns Whom charge for use.

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Where can I find information on my competitors?

Information on competitors is available from a wide range of sources:

  • Trade press
  • Trade fairs
  • Trade associations
  • Customers
  • Distributors
  • Suppliers
  • Books
  • Market reports
  • Government publications
  • Market research companies
  • Business advisers (accountants, bankers, etc)
  • Local and national press
  • Annual company reports
  • Libraries
  • Directories such as Yellow Pages
  • Competitors' websites

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