But how can we judge the accuracy of market research based on the sales pitch data alone?
As Managing Director at the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED) Ellen Schutt is the go-to expert to ask about the omega-3 market and is all too aware of the plethora of market research in this space, of which she can quickly judge the accuracy.
“There are tonnes of market research firms offering reports that claim to have the most accurate, up to date, detailed omega-3 market research that exists. This is frustrating, especially for our member companies who regularly get calls from ‘research analysts’ asking for proprietary information and data to inform these other reports,” she notes.
In this article, Schutt provides her top five tips for how to analyse a market research report.
Do the analysts have market expertise?
Schutt says the first question to ask is whether the research firm has deep experience in the market on which it is reporting.
“Or is it a market research mill that’s simply churning out report after report on industries as diverse as fuel additives, satellite communications, commercial property and EPA and DHA omega-3s?”
She points out that most reputable market research firms will focus on a specific market, such as food and drink. If a company’s focus is even more niche than this then that should be a benefit.
“At GOED, we publish reports on omega-3s and nothing else. We create an Ingredient Market Report every year that details the entire omega-3 raw material segment of the supply chain.”
If there is any information on the market analysts, check them out on LinkedIn to see their credentials and expertise and whether they are operating within the regions they are covering.
Schutt says it’s important to ask whether the company has done primary research with the key market leaders in the industry?
“Many market research firms Google ‘omega-3 companies’ and add these market leaders to their sales pitch, but never talk directly to those companies for the report.
“The research for our annual Ingredient Market Report includes interviews with dozens of our members with very specific questions on the market. Our members spend hours on the phone with us, providing feedback, challenging our hypotheses, going back and forth on growth expectations and filling in the blanks on the ‘why’ behind market fluctuations.”
She says GOED will use third party sources as well – international trade and customs data, company financials and industry sales data, and national and international databases.
All these insights allow for the creation of properly tested and analysed market predictions.
And remember, it’s always possible to ask the company how it gathers its data before deciding whether to purchase a report, including requesting the sample size, inclusion criteria, time periods, geographical regions etc.
Schutt notes that terminology, and simple accuracy, is usually a giveaway.
“Does the executive summary use terminology that resonates with your business understanding of the market, or is it filled with buzzwords to make you think the company has market expertise?”
All market reports have a glossary or definitions, but does the terminology make sense?
Ellen asks: “For an omega-3 report, are they including ALA as well as EPA and DHA? Do they know the difference between a refined oil and a concentrate? Do they refer to a ‘current market leader’ that was actually purchased by a competitor a few years ago, or use the word ‘seaweed’ when they should say ‘algae’?
“Additionally, are the companies listed in the summary even in the same segment of the supply chain? We saw an Executive Summary that gave a market value based on sales from several of the largest fish oil suppliers plus some of the leading consumer brands (the oil suppliers’ customers). You cannot provide accurate information if you’re mixing segments of the value chain and not comparing apples to apples.”
The ‘gut check’
It’s easy to find basic market intelligence by following the trade media and doing your own preliminary research. If you have a general idea of what the market growth might be, you should get a gut feeling as to whether the numbers offered in the report sales pitch fit what you are expecting to see.
She adds that if the numbers seem too good to be true, chances are, they probably are.
5. Fluctuating prices and steep discounts
Speaking of numbers, Schutt says it’s important to be wary of wavering prices at the point of purchase, adding that you get what you pay for. If a firm is willing to offer half off the price as soon as you’re say you’re not interested, that should definitely be a red flag.
“Our market report is not the cheapest on the market, but you are paying for the value of data and insights you can trust. We know companies use these numbers to make important business decisions and we are very careful not to say the market will experience double-digit growth next year just because that’s what readers want to see.
“You may save money by purchasing another market report, but wouldn’t it be better to base your strategic or operational decisions on trustworthy data and realistic projections?”