10.7 Professional Marketing Studies

Below are listed the leading market research companies, but their reports are not cheap, findings differ between companies, and predictions are continually being revised. Which survey should you trust? And how many reports should you purchase: all of them so as to compare, or none at all?

We can't answer these questions directly, but common sense suggests you'll want to consider the conditions under which such reports are compiled.

Internet users are so conditioned to receiving free information that they sometimes suppose that all information is theirs by right. But information has to be collected, analyzed and disseminated, and the cost of doing these must be met somehow. Often the process is very indirect — keynote speeches at institutional get-togethers, for example, which further the aims of the industry concerned — but the exercise has eventually to end in some benefit. And that applies even to interviewees. Data collected by market research companies are only as good as the questions and persons asked. CEOs who give up valuable time to answer journalists' questions understand that the increased publicity helps sales and market standing, but they're not going to be self-critical, or give away company secrets. By its very nature, all commercial information is suspect, and its value is often proportional to the effort put into its collection and analysis. Before purchasing any report, try (and it's not easy, though emails are usually answered) to find out:

1. When the data were collected: ecommerce changes rapidly.
2. How the market data were collected — questionnaires, analysis of company reports, interviews, etc.
3. The identity of the interviewees or questioned, and whether they were in a position to know and be candid.
4. Statistical validity of the data.
5. Matters that might affect judgment — inducements offered to those participating in the survey, etc.

Then ask yourself if you can properly use the information. You may learn, for example, that online customer acquisition costs are now averaging $40, but do these apply to the online operations of household brands or to market newcomers? And in what market sector? Differences are crucial, and you'll want to be sure that the sample represents your sort of company. Check that:
1. The data are relevant to your needs.
2. Predictions have been reliable/useful in the past.
3. The market research company has a good reputation, and has not simply presented what subscribers wish to hear.

Though marketing generally exceeds the costs of getting a site online, it is often money well spent. Some form of market research is unavoidable, and without its guidance companies will be flying blind. If a report does not address your queries sufficiently, however, you'll have to commission your own market research, though the cost will be an order of magnitude higher. Unless you're a big company needing to move fast, you may wish to see what's freely available through other sections in this site.

Professional Market Research Companies

Analysys Mason. Information on and analysis of the telecom industry.

Bloor Research. IT research, analysis and consultancy: 750 reports available.

Business Insights. Sell reports on a wide variety of market sectors: usually $1,000 plus.

Cheskin. Research emphasizing peoples, culture and change.

Computer Economics. Studies helping IT executives control and manage their IT costs.

Current Analysis. Worldwide competitor analysis and market research: costs, pricing, trends, etc.

Data Monitor. Business intelligence: variety of reports and subscription services.

Dun and Bradstreet. Some free articles from this leading supplier of business information: but otherwise reports by country, business sector or company name.

eMarketer. Comprehensive demographics, surveys and analysis on ecommerce. Inquire about subscription rates.

Forrester Research. Research reports on customer trends, business strategy and technology investments: free summaries on newsletter registration.

Gartner Research. Searchable and extensive database of research reports: free abstracts.

International Data Corp. Commercial surveys and assessments of IT and associated industries.

Input. Market research and marketing for ebusiness: various reports and services.

Instat. Analysis and forecasts of the telecommunications industry.

Igigroup. Newsletters and technology reports on all aspects of the telecommunications industry.

ITSMA. IT services, branding and marketing business information.

Javelin Strategy and Research. Quantitative and qualitative research focused on the global financial services industry.

Marketing Analytics. Tools to analyze marketing mix, pricing, advertising and consumer segment response.

Market Research. Over 40,000 documents from 350 research companies. Documents can be purchased in sections.

Nielson. Market research reports by industry and geographical region.

Pew Internet. Selected surveys and research articles on US Internet use.

Plunket Research. Detailed statistics by market sector: from US $20-$1800.

Quirk's Marketing Research Review. Statistics on the market research industry and access (by subscription) to extensive reports.

Real Story Group. Formerly CMS Watch: reports on and evaluations of content management systems.

Yankee. Market analysis and consultancy on international communications industry.