For construction industry manufacturers and suppliers looking to expand into new markets or exploit new product and service opportunities, comprehensive market research is an essential early component of the business development plan. In this feature, sponsored by construction specific research specialists AMA Research, we offer some thoughts on selecting an agency and our index of 25+ research firms (with phone numbers, emails, websites and contact names) has been collated to include only those that we have identified as having knowledge and experience of the UK construction market. You must be logged in to download the database.
From discovering a gap in the market to planning effective marketing campaigns and ultimately ensuring customer satisfaction, primary or secondary market research can remove much of the guesswork and provide the intelligence needed to ensure success. Also, market research can play an important role in securing new specifications and gaining inclusion on preferred supplier lists.
Whilst depending somewhat on your research requirements, it is likely that the professional services of an external consultant will be required to undertake primary research - i.e. bespoke research involving one-to-one interviews, surveys, and focus groups - for all or part of the project.
There are many hundreds of market research firms to choose from, but, if the organisation does not have knowledge of construction, it is quite possible that they need to spend their time, and your money, to gain an understanding of the industry and its various sub-sectors, disciplines and trends. Consequently, it can be of significant advantage to make use of a specialist agency with an established track record of working within the marketplace, and the firms identified in our index have such experience in providing primary and/or secondary market research. However, it is important firstly to look at what secondary research is available (published reports, papers, etc.), since there would be no point in trying to re-invent the wheel. Organisations, such as AMA Research, provide a wide range of downloadable market reports, covering the construction industry and its various sub-sectors.
Selecting a Market Research Agency
In order to help choose the best agency for your project, the specialist construction industry consultancy, Competitive Advantage, provides a guide to help select and shortlist, and suggests that clients consider:
Their expertise in your sector of the market
The Construction Industry is unique, requiring thorough understanding of its dynamics, players and interrelations, with its own language. Your researcher, representing you, needs to be able to converse effectively with all echelons in the sector, from board members of large housebuilding and architectural groups through to the man-in-a-van.
Their experience in working with a company of your size and budget
Smaller agencies are more familiar with achieving good results with small budgets but may be over-faced by sizeable quantitative research.
In the article, Competitive Advantage goes on to suggest, “To help filter down your choice of providers, compare your research needs with their services. Many companies focus on specific types of research or industry. Conversely, if you need advice on the most appropriate forms of research to achieve your objectives, you may prefer to work with a multi-discipline market research company rather than a specialist, who will tend to recommend their own type of research.”
The full article touches on budgeting, timescales, asking for proposals and preparing a brief and a helpful downloadable template for this is provided. In the summary, it provides a series of questions to consider, including:
- What type and size of company do you want to work with?
- How well does the prospective researcher demonstrate understanding of your company, markets, customers and your research objectives?
- How well will they integrate with your team?
The Market Research Society also provides a list of market research firms and publishes the 'Research Buyers Guide', a hard copy directory of market researchers, access to which is also available online. Searches can be performed by a range of criteria, including sector (labelled as Property/Construction/Housing).