When is Buying a Market Research Report a Mistake?

Kelly Springs-Kelley
November 13, 2020
Buying a market research report might not be the best option.

Investing in a custom market intelligence report provides the depth and detail companies need to make critical business decisions with confidence.

Several months ago, a client came to us needing clarification. But it wasn’t related to anything we had provided. They needed clarity surrounding several market research reports that they had purchased off the shelf. 

There was irony in their situation. Rather than gaining the clear insights that they were looking for, they were left wondering if the documents contained anything of value that applied to them. After walking them through the reports, we saw that, while the research was sound, it didn’t give them the degree of detail that they needed. 

Don’t get us wrong – the issue wasn’t with the report itself. The issue was our client’s needs. And while we were able to glean helpful information from the reports, ultimately we went back to the drawing board. We created a comprehensive market intelligence report based on their unique inquiries. Coupled with our team’s expert analysis and insights, we were able to give our clients the data – and the direction – that they needed. 

Off-the-shelf market research reports can be a great tool. However, the reality is that sometimes these reports don’t provide enough depth, context, or niche-specific insights for companies to get the right answers and make the most of their investment. 

Instead of immediately turning to a pre-made market research report, it’s important for companies to stop and consider where the report is coming from, what it will entail, and what the outcome for the data needs to be.

Below are three key considerations that companies and executive teams should explore before purchasing a market research report. 

Not All Market Research Reports are Created Equal

Not all market research reports are created equal.

When you purchase a report, you are making a significant monetary investment. But you are also making a significant time investment. Unlike a customized report from a strategic partner, off-the-shelf reports require some reading of the tea leaves. Since reports are generated for a larger audience, the onus is on each company to pull information that is relevant and meaningful to them. Having a clear and detailed report is critical in extracting applicable insights.

There are several market research companies that produce reports that consistently hit the mark. Companies like Markets and Markets and LSI provide rich data and research that can help guide companies’ decision-making. But when medical device companies or entrepreneurs purchase a report, they may not know which market research report partners will provide them with the best product. And, like our aforementioned client, if the reports are not structured in a way that provides clear value, companies may find themselves challenged in understanding and applying the information.

Sometimes Market Research Reports Can Miss the Mark

Sometimes market research reports miss the mark.

Off-the-shelf reports are meant to provide convenience, delivering data that is right at your fingertips. Executives want intelligence that can guide them, often in highly-consequential scenarios that may literally make or break the future of the company. Seem dramatic? It’s just another day in the life of an entrepreneur. 

While most market research reports are of good quality, we have seen reports that are questionable. Some offer large data sets with assumptions that are too broad to be actionable. Others offer information that we know from our own research to be inaccurate. Some don’t ask the right questions, or they gather information in a suboptimal way. And sometimes reports don’t provide transparency related to their source material, which is critical in ensuring accurate and meaningful information.

In the market intelligence world, it’s not hyperbole to say that trust is everything. If you can’t trust your market data with unwavering certainty, you’re finished before you begin. 

Many Reports Don’t Address an Executive’s Detailed, Strategic Needs

Even after we helped our client extract data from the off-the-shelf reports that they had purchased, they still had questions. Lots of them. Each data point that we pulled from the report carried with it a line of subsequent inquiry. Quickly it became clear that, while the report served its purpose, it didn’t serve their purpose. They were eager to understand how to position their novel product in a niche marketplace. They needed extensive insights related to everything from product positioning to customer behavior. Even with 3 separate reports, the information that they had did not tell the entire story.

When your company is facing a challenge, from how to position a product to how to appeal to multiple stakeholders, having answers to your specific questions is everything. Once we gave our client a report that was uniquely theirs, as well as interpreted that data for them using our decades of expertise, they had clarity. Only then did they have the roadmap – and the confidence – to move forward, because they knew they were going in the right direction. 

(Another irony? The cost of the three reports they had purchased was close to the cost of the customized analysis that we delivered.)

Strategic Times Call for Strategic Measures

Market research reports can be a valuable plug-and-play tool for companies in understanding a market in broad terms. However, when companies rush to these tools as their primary means of information and analysis, they might not end up with what they wanted. 

When your team needs intelligence, it’s wise to pause and reflect on the intended outcomes, both short- and long-term. When the stakes are high, or your needs are specific, investing in a custom market intelligence analysis with a trusted strategic partner will provide you with right the data – and insight – to make the best decisions. 

Do you need a market intelligence report that is targeted and provides you with specific insights and guidance? We’d love to help. Contact us.