Research and consulting projects are a considerable expense for many companies. The price of a multi element project like that can be a major item in the budget of a business or marketing department. The benefits of projects this large sometimes don’t seem obvious at first. So why take that risk and invest?
Usually, a single research project involves more than one business problem. That could be falling sales in a particular channel, concern about brand awareness, or the need to check the effectiveness of marketing. So a single small-scale project often can’t answer all of those questions. To make strategic business decisions, a company needs answers to all of their questions. The solution here is a more expensive, but also more extensive and worthwhile research and consulting project. These projects use varied methodologies, deliver broad knowledge and practical solutions. All of this is aimed at improving the financial results of the company ordering the project.
What kind of data do research and consulting projects deliver?
Research and consulting projects give you much more extensive market data than a standard market analysis, consumer research or marketing study. A comprehensive project includes two parts:
- The consulting part – It includes an analysis of the volume and value of the market, the competitive environment, market trends, and forecasts for a given market segment, etc.
- The research part – It contains, among others, customer research, research on distribution channels, consumer behaviours tests, studies of target groups, market segmentation.
Market size in terms of quality and quantity, an overview of the major players (their strengths and weaknesses, financial ratios) allows to position the company in their business environment. In addition, it gives tips which way the market will develop. It also provides information on where market niches are, and where the market is already saturated.
Another addition to detailed information on the relevant market are economic data on the economy, private sector companies and consumer sentiment. This allows to supplement the knowledge of one specific segment and provides a broader perspective of development. It gives information necessary to monitor the competitive environment. The ability to gain access to the experience of experts in the sector is invaluable. It allows for faster data collection, and the ability to refer to historical data.
Useful and valuable tools dedicated for market analysis are quantitative indicators of market development tailored to the client’s needs. They allow for cross-sectoral and cross-regional comparisons in a historical perspective. They’re better suited for comparative analysis of several countries. In addition to that, it is possible to analyse the prices and the legislative environment of the business. And also helps to map business partners, distributors, sources of raw materials and production materials.
Why do research and consulting projects take so long?
In consulting and research projects, every stage is preceded by a thorough analysis of the researched area. The key task in these types of projects is product categorisation. Depending on the complexity of production and the size of the client’s product portfolio, this process may take several days of intense work. The purpose of categorisation is to establish a coherent list of the client’s products and assign them to product categories.
Firstly, the client must provide a list of all of their products, their options, names and brands. Secondly, the market should be examined. We examine how these products are categorised on the market. We also verify how other companies define them, and thus to what extent they can be researched. It is very important to assign unusual products to other, related product categories.
The last thing on the list is confronting the customer’s perception. Often these are two different worlds, irreconcilable at first glance. Systematising the list of products is necessary to be able to proceed with the research. This allows you to operate within the same product categories as respondents. And thus it ensures that the obtained information and data are reliable. In each of the research questionnaires, individual products are translated into the consumer’s language and perception of the world.
During the course of establishing a list of products it is also important to establish definitions and clarify the understanding of the market in terms of geography. For example, what does the client precisely mean by “north” or “south”? The more the analysis matches the client’s way of thinking, the more they will be able to gain from the study’s findings.
What are the effects of research and consulting projects?
Gathering data and information is really only the beginning of the advisory part of the project. An extremely important element is to analyse and identify concrete recommendations for the client. This analysis must include an assessment of the potential of different segments, and define possible scenarios of development. And at the end of the day, it has to facilitate the client’s market activities.
These projects can provide quite extensive knowledge (reports can contain up to 200 slides). There are two versions: one detailed, and one a summary version. The conclusions from a report like this indicate the possible directions of further development in order to increase profits and improve profitability. With the implementation of such an extensive project, the client receives knowledge. On the basis of the new data, they can optimise the supply chain, intensify production, or reduce costs associated with the procurement process.
What results do strategic projects produce?
Consulting and research projects are strongly recommended before taking strategic decisions, such as entering a new regional market or a new segment of products or services. The results of the project in this case can indicate where to allocate capital in order to get a return on investment as soon as possible; where operations should continue, and where they should be slowly pulled out from, or optimised in terms of investment. Without a comprehensive analysis of the market it is not possible to increase market share and acquire new customers (while maintaining the levels of satisfaction of existing customers). Knowing about the weaknesses of competitors and their strategic actions, it is easier to increase competitiveness or maintain a competitive advantage. Forecasts allow, in turn, to develop business plans for the next few years, as they indicate the most attractive directions of business development.
The opinions of consumers (target groups) are equally as important. It’s the basis of correctly identifying the most promising consumer segments, which might be interested in the company’s offer. Deciding on a difficult and lengthy study into the B2B market, by obtaining feedback from customers you can secure your market position, but also gain insight into the perception of the offer and the company by its customers. By listening to the voice of customers, you can update your offer, as well as confront your market position with that of your competitors. An analysis of consumer behaviour is a boundless source of knowledge, one that can allow a business to introduce product innovations and improve their offer. The results of the study are also a source of inspiration, since they include information the latest trends and future consumer preferences.
Researching distribution channels also is often a big challenge, especially in markets that rely heavily on a close customer-manufacturer relationship, where direct sales plays a major role. Analysis of a distribution network can help identify gaps in customer service, as well as potential opportunities to optimise sales.
Do you need support in building a growth strategy?
Comprehensive consulting and research projects are essential for a company’s growth, optimising operations and strengthening the competitive position in the market. See our offer for research and consulting services.