Evaluating Packaged Market Research Providers

Packaged market research reports are created by providers that compile and analyze data. This valuable information is considered secondary research, because it involves the use of existing data and is sold “off-the shelf” or in a packaged format. Secondary research should not be confused with primary research, which is the result of an organization or company being directly involved with the gathering of information, such as through the use of surveys and interviews. Those unfamiliar with market research reports might be surprised about the amount and quality of data that is offered. Market research information covers everything from economic data, country risk, forecast and trend outlooks, market drivers, and market share and segmentation with competitive landscape analysis. Geographic coverage can be expansive, and product coverage can get quite detailed. Most, but not all, are expensive to access.

There has been a considerable uptick in the number of providers entering the market in the last 10 years or so, making evaluating reports for quality even more challenging. These newer providers offer reports that are similar in format to the more established provider companies and are also expensive.

It is wise to be cautious when evaluating reports for purchase, especially ones with provider business models that emphasizes quantity and mass produce reports covering just about every market imaginable.

The high price tag does not guarantee that the data is accurate. Evidence of inaccurate data can be painfully apparent and I have encountered it firsthand. In one report from a newer provider, the list of companies selected as the top competitors in a particular competitive landscape where taken directly from a Home Depot’s top selling list of brands it carried. The report’s title was identical to Home Depot’s category name and companies in the Table of Contents were listed in similar order to Home Depot’s website complete with the exact spelling, spacing and use of capitalization of the brand names.

How to Evaluate Market Research Reports: A Few Tips

  • It you have the option, purchase reports from providers who have established themselves as being reputable and have stood the test of time. MarketLine, Euromonitor International, First Research, Freedonia, Frost & Sullivan, and IBISWorld are examples of quality market research firms.
  • Check to see if the methodology used in gathering the information is detailed and freely available to read.
  • Are there negative reviews on the provider?
  • Copy segments of text from the (free) description and/or summary page from a report in question and paste and search in Google, making sure to surround the text in quotes to capture the exact wording/grammar. Does the text appear in other places, such as in a product or company press release? If so, does the report in question present the text as its own, without crediting or acknowledging the source? Also, copy and paste several of the companies that are identified as key competitors. Copy and paste the actual company name, as the report has it represented, surrounded with quotation marks. Don’t search the company names separately, but all together in a single search string. This is one way to tell if the report has been built using “regenerated” data from other sources.
  • Is the website professional looking and polished? Is the punctuation and grammar correct? Is the spacing of the wording even? Is there detailed data about the history of the company?
  • In the report description and/or overview, does the text appear disjointed, like it was generated artificially?
  • Who exactly writes the reports? Do the reports have authors listed or experts identified?
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