What is International Market Landscape Research?

What is International Market Landscape Research?
Dear Reader,
2013 might be the year to take the plunge into unknown territory and sell your products or services abroad, or to grow your overseas sales. 
If so, this edition of Better Insight is for you. In it, we look at what’s involved in conducting an international market landscape study.
Read on for a deeper understanding of why conducting international research into new markets is so important. 
If you have any questions about international market landscape studies, click here to email me, or post them via LinkedIn or Twitter.
Happy reading!

Martin Holliss

e: martinh@research-insight.com
t: +44 1235 812 456
m: +44 7931 376501

Why Do International Market Landscape Research?
For businesses looking to expand beyond their domestic markets, our increasingly global economy can provide many exciting opportunities. But at the same time it can prove risky, full of pitfalls and uncertainties. 
One way to eliminate that risk is to commission an international market landscape study.  Just as you would carry out research in the domestic arena before launching a new product, this type of research focuses on a new country or region of the world. Somewhere that holds potential for your company.
Let’s look at a few reasons you might want to commission market landscape research:
To enter a new market
You may be operating successfully in your own country but want to explore potential new markets abroad. Perhaps to satisfy demand, achieve economies of scale or to keep up with your competitors. We explored this issue of entering new markets in our February 2011 newsletter
To make an acquisition
Rather than entering a new country or region “cold”, a market landscape study can be designed to identify existing companies you could acquire. 
To establish where you stand
Understanding your position relative to the competition is vital when you have an established market presence. A market landscape study identifies where your competitors are active, their market share and why their customers buy their products in preference to yours.
To discover future trends
It’s not always about what’s happening in a market right now but what impact future trends may have over the next couple of years. It’s not unusual for a market landscape study to identify clear trends.  

What Does Market Landscape Research Entail?
The scale and type of research involved in a market landscape study very much depends on the questions that need to be answered. 
Desk research
A market landscape study will usually start with comprehensive desk research in both English and the local language (conducted, importantly, by nationals of that language).  An extensive search through competitor, customer, trade association and government websites will be combined with a review of articles in relevant magazines/journals and any relevant paid-for subscription-only sources.  The end result will be a good initial snapshot of a particular country or market. 
Detective-style telephone research
While desk research provides a certain amount of market insight, it rarely delivers everything that is needed.  It may also generate contradictory evidence that needs to be challenged, verified and triangulated.  Detective-style telephone interviews will help you gain a broader and more robust understanding of your market.  Typically, 20-30 telephone interviews should be conducted amongst competitors, customers, agents/distributors, trade associations, government departments, journalists and market analysts.  The wider you cast your research net, the more robust the end result.
In-country qualitative research
If budget permits, it often makes sense to commission classic qualitative research, to better understand views, opinions, experiences, attitudes and perceptions.  In-person executive interviews (or sometimes) focus groups are used to obtain views from competitors, customers and agents/distributors.  Qualitative research will help you refine your proposition and positioning.
Quantitative surveys
While not always needed, the final piece of the market landscape study jigsaw is a quantitative survey.  This will provide statistically-robust data that may be required by the Board before a major investment decision is signed-off. Typically, 400 to 1,000 interviews are conducted (whether by telephone, face-to-face, or online) each lasting 10-15 minutes.  The purpose could be to establish how favourably the market sees your product and how it compares to your competitors.
The end result – a robust market landscape report
Once the different facets of this work have been completed, a market landscape report can be written. This is a comprehensive and robust snapshot of your market within the country or region in question.  It will highlight market size, trends, distribution, purchase criteria, competitor activity and positioning, legislative framework, barriers to entry, and much more.Such a market landscape report will enable you to make valid management decisions (e.g. on whether to enter, invest in, or leave a particular market).  

UK Trade and Investment’s Export Marketing Research Scheme will help you design and carry out market research on all the major aspects of an export venture.  You may be eligible for a grant of up to 50% of the cost of the research – well worth having if you can get it!
Scottish Development International Scheme – a cousin of the UKTI/EMRS scheme.  If you are a Scottish-based company, grants are available from Europe Scotland (EES) to those wanting help entering an export market.  
ICAEW Director’s Briefing – an excellent 4-page summary to export and market landscape research.  Well worth reading.

Christmas Customs Around The World

December 2013

Christmas Customs Around The World

Dear Reader,

With Christmas fast approaching, in this
edition of our newsletter we look at how different countries around the world
celebrate at this time of the year. We turn the spotlight on the traditional,
the slightly unusual and, in some cases, the otherworldly customs that count as
festive celebrations.

Rather than spend money on cards and postage we’ve decided to spend the same amount on goats and chicken from Oxfam Unwrapped (http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrappedfor a Third World family.   

So, this is to send our warmest seasonal greetings to our clients, partners, associates and suppliers, and to wish you and those you love a peaceful Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Best wishes,

Martin Holliss

e: martinh@research-insight.com
t: +44 1235 812 456
m: +44 7931 376501

Which Christmas Do You Celebrate?

Join us on a whistlestop tour around the world as we highlight some of the traditions and customs from other countries’ Christmas celebrations: 

  1. Australia – With Christmas at the beginning of the Australian summer, temperatures often hit 30°C or more. Many Christmas traditions therefore have a distinctly outdoorsy flavour. Shopping for that perfect festive gift is often done in shorts and T-shirts, and on Christmas Day itself, many people head for the beach to stoke up the barbie. It’s not unknown for Santa Claus to arrive by boat or surfboard… Merry Christmas!

  2. France – French children don’t hang up their stockings. Instead they put their shoes by the fireplace so Père (or Papa) Noël will fill them with gifts. Père Noël is often accompanied by his rather fierce assistant, Père Fouettard, whose job it is to bring naughty children into line… Joyeux Noël!

  3. Germany – With the arrival of Advent, celebrations really begin. Advent calendars are often handmade, having been in the family for generations. On each of the Advent Sundays, a candle is lit on the wreath, so that four are burning brightly and continually by the time Christmas Eve comes around. And to add further bonhomie, people gather on Christmas markets up and down the country to drink warming Glühwein and nibble on pretzels and doughnuts… Frohe Weihnachten!

  4. Greenland – If you’re feeling tired of turkey or goose, then how about a little mattak instead? This traditional delicacy (whaleskin with a strip of blubber inside!) is eaten by Greenlanders at Christmas. The same goes for kiviak, the raw flesh of the little auk, which is served after having been buried whole in sealskin for several months… Juullimi Ukiortaassamilu Pilluarit!

  5. Japan – Christmas itself is not that widely celebrated in Japan as Christians are in the minority. However, gift-giving at this time of the year has become commonplace, adopted from American traditions. A lot of fried food is eaten on Christmas Day, and fast-food restaurants such as KFC report it as their busiest time of the year! You can even place orders in advance… Meri Kurisumasu!

  6. Lebanon – A strong contender in the World’s Most Glamorous Christmas Tree stakes has to be Beirut, which each year sports a stylish 25-metre-high tree donated and decorated by international fashion designer Elie Saab… Mīlād Majīd!

  7. Mexico – Is a serial Christmas record-breaker, thanks to one man – Sergio Rodriguez Villareal – who holds several world records for the largest-ever festive ornaments. Sergio’s huge decorations include a 5.57-metre-high angel made of beer bottles, a 3.9-metre-high candle made of mirrors and bottles, and a 2.75-metre-high silver bauble made of sheet metal… Feliz Navidad!

  8. The Netherlands – Holland’s Sinterklaas, or St Nicholas, certainly knows how to make an entrance. He arrives in the country by steamboat in mid-November, dressed in his traditional garb of red bishop’s dress and imposing mitre. He hands out presents on 5th December, Sinterklaasavond, a more important festival than Christmas in the Netherlands… Prettige Kerstfeest!

  9. Norway – You may not know it, but every year Norway donates the large Christmas tree that stands in London’s Trafalgar Square. A ‘thank you’ gift from the Norwegians to the British for the help they were given during World War II, it has become a symbol for UK/Norway relations and adding to the Scandinavian country’s Christmas traditions… God Jul!

  10. The Philippines – If you can’t wait for the Christmas holiday to end you probably won’t want to go to the Philippines. The country is reputed to have the world’s longest Christmas season. Carols may be played in shops from as early as September, while the real festive season kicks off on 16th December with nine days of dawn masses. Celebrations continue until Epiphany on 6th January… Maligayang Pasko!

  11. Russia – An ancient tradition practiced in Russia and other Orthodox Christian countries is the Christmas Eve ‘Holy Supper’. This consists of 12 foods each symbolising one of the 12 Apostles. Typically, the foods served comprise: mushroom soup; Lenten bread orpagach, dipped first in honey, then garlic; baked cod; fresh fruits; nuts; kidney beans; peas; parsley potatoes; bobal’ki biscuits; and red wine… S Roždestvom Khristovym!

  12. Spain – As is common across Europe, the main Christmas celebrations fall on Christmas Eve with the festive meal being eaten before attending midnight mass. This is also called ‘La Misa Del Gallo’ (The Mass of the Rooster) because a rooster is supposed to have crowed the night that Jesus was born. Most children open their presents at Epiphany, on 6th January. On Boxing Day, they write to the Three Kings, asking for toys and presents and they  eave their shoes out on Epiphany Eve on windowsills or balconies for them to be filled with gifts… Feliz Navidad or Bon Nadal (in Catalan!)

  13. USA – A hotch-potch of many Christmas traditions from around the world due to its multi-cultural population, the USA does Christmas in a big way. Whether it’s small community competitions to see who can have the largest amount of Christmas decorations on and around your house (some, like the ones we’ve seen in Tampa, Florida, can probably be seen from space!) or visiting one of the year-round Christmas shops that can be found in nearly every town, you can’t forget Christmas in the States… Happy Christmas!

Christmas for the Research Insight team

Our Oxfordshire-based team enjoys all kinds
of traditions, some of which date back to childhood and beyond (like stockings
– or more likely rugby socks – filled with small gifts, opened early on
Christmas morning).

Most Christmas traditions, though, centre
around food! For Martin, it’s croissants and champagne for breakfast on
Christmas morning. Lunch is a foodie fest, with delicious smoked salmon (from the Swallowfish smokehouse in Seahouses, Northumberland) followed by roast turkey, then traditional Christmas pudding and fruit
jelly. And if there’s space for any more, there are “goodies” like
figs, dates, crystallised fruit, ginger, marrons glacés, turkish delight, nuts
and clementines… all capped off with a much-needed walk with the dogs!  A lovely relaxing time with the family.

Looking to our more local community
traditions, Christmas Eve sees Father Christmas visit the nearby village of
Blewbury. He arrives in style on a sleigh pulled by a herd of (human) reindeer.
Helped by a team of elves, presents are given to local children while villagers
sing carols accompanied by the local brass band.

The DIY Guide to Marketing Research

February 2014

The DIY Guide to Marketing Research

Dear Reader,

When times
are tough, many businesses cut their research budgets in an attempt to save
money.  But marketing research is
essential if you want to build a competitive advantage,
or to help you successfully launch a new product.

So how do
you carry out the research you need, without spending a fortune?  In this issue of Better Insight I’ll share
with you some ideas on carrying out your own DIY marketing research.  I hope you find it helpful!

Best wishes,

Martin Holliss

e: martinh@research-insight.com
t: +44 1235 812 456
m: +44 7931 376501

The DIY Guide to Marketing Research

Here are
some of the things you need to think about when setting up your DIY research:

What do you want to achieve?  Before you
start any research project, think about the end goal.  What do you need to discover?  Who will you be presenting it to?  How will they use it?  You need to answer these questions, as they will
help you design your questionnaire or interview guide and help you get the best
possible results.

Do some planning.  Are you more
interested in a) establishing views and opinions or b) statistically-robust percentages? 
Who do you need to interview? 
How many interviews do you need to complete and why do you need that
many?  Will the interview be conducted
online, by telephone or in person?  Why?  And what’s the best way to communicate your
findings?  All these questions (and more)
need to be answered, as part of the planning stage of your research.

Asking questions.  Once you’ve
done all your planning, it’s time to design your questionnaire or interview guide –
the questions you want people to answer. 
It might be tempting to ask dozens of questions.  After all, the more questions you ask, the
more information you’ll collect…right?  Not
necessarily.  Many people only take part in a survey (especially online) if they know they can complete it quickly.  Too many questions may put them off, so be
careful how many questions you ask.  Often “less is more”.

Outside help. 
At every stage of designing your
survey, ask someone unconnected with your company to review or test what you’ve
done.  (We call this ‘piloting’).  If they can understand what you’re asking and
trying to achieve, then the people taking part in the survey are more likely
to.  If they don’t, your survey probably needs
more work.

First time nerves.  If you’ve never
designed or run a market research study before, don’t go it alone.  Look for help and support – there is plenty
of it online – whether to refine the design of your survey, to identify the
right questions to ask, to avoid bias in the way you draft your questions, or to
find the best ways to report your findings effectively.

Read All About It!

As well as
finding support online, there are plenty of books you can read. 

To save you having to read all of them, I’ve
created a list of recommended reading.  Click here for a summary of some of the best titles you can look at.

The titles I’ve selected cover qualitative research, quantitative research, infographics, semiotics, behavioural economics, statistics and much more!

The list is well worth a browse and each book can be bought through Amazon – just click on the link above.

DIY Plus

Have you had
a go at DIY marketing research and not achieved the results you were hoping for?

At Research
Insight we can support you while you do your own research.  We can help in a number of very flexible ways.  For example, we
can spend time reviewing the questionnaire or interview guide you want use and
making sure your process is robust – it might only require a couple of hours.  Alternatively,
we can provide an independent summary of your survey results, to highlight
the key messages and stories emerging.

If you would
like consultancy support to help you do your own DIY marketing research, then click here
to get in touch
or call us
on 01235 812 456.

What Makes a Good Researcher?

November 2008

What Makes a Good Researcher?


Dear Reader

As its name suggests, the aim of better insight‘ is to give you a deeper insight into the world of market research. We promise not to bore you with statistics or blind you with 101 ways to conduct a telephone interview. Instead, we will offer you plenty of good advice on getting the best out of market research – to benefit your business.

In this issue we thought we’d tackle something pretty fundamental to good research results – choosing an experienced researcher. We’ve even got a cartoon that helps make the point. So read on for some advice and tips on how not to get landed with ‘Erics’ (i.e. juniors/trainees) and a case study illustrating the benefits of using a good research agency.

Don’t forget to drop us a line to tell us what you think of this issue. And if you’re a brilliant researcher, and your name happens to be Eric – we’d particularly like to hear from you …

Happy reading!

Martin Holliss

What Makes a Good Researcher?


It’s a common scenario: you want to do some market research, so you invite several well-known agencies to tender. One agency stands out with a stunning proposal – complete with an all-singing, all-dancing presentation by a Director that is so convincing you award them the work.

Mysteriously, though, when the agency starts work on your project the Director melts away – leaving you in the tender care of someone else entirely. Worse still, you soon start to suspect that this person hasn’t much experience of your kind of project. Your suspicions are confirmed when you finally get the report you’ve paid good money for. Far from containing insights that will help you grow your business, the report tells you nothing you didn’t know already.

It’s not ‘Eric’s’ fault, of course – he’s only a trainee. His senior colleagues are to blame. And Eric will probably become a really good researcher given time and the right. But he’s not there yet. And your valuable project is definitely not the right place for his on-the-job training.

So what does make a good researcher?

First of all – to help you, the client, the researcher has to understand what you need. That involves asking you the right questions to get to the bottom of the issues your research project is designed to address. (And a good brief from you will really help them too. Look out for some useful tips on that in the next issue of this newsletter.)

They should also be able to add some ideas of their own to the ones you put forward. After all, you are paying for their knowledge and experience.

Having listened carefully and made suggestions, the next stage is to draft a set of clear and tightly-focused research objectives (your agency should be willing to help), and then to design a research solution that meets your needs.

They should have plenty of relevant – and demonstrable – experience in the research techniques needed for your project. They should also be willing (and have the experience) to discuss alternatives with you.

Finally, a good researcher should be someone you can trust and work well with.

At Research Insight, all our staff are director level and, when very specific additional skills are needed, we draw on the services of an extensive team of trusted and highly qualified associates. A large chunk of our work is ‘repeat business’ – clearly we’re doing something right!

Business Insight

A major credit card issuer asked Research Insight to run their internal European marketing research team. We provided them with a director, team leader and three experienced marketing research professionals. Not an ‘Eric’ in sight!

The initial 6-month contract was extended for a further 12 months.

Not only were we able to build the client’s research capability from scratch, we also designed and co-ordinated all their marketing research projects and provided consultative expertise to their Business and Marketing managers. This ensured that all research activity was robust and action-focused.

Resources – Where to Find Great Researchers


One way of assessing the credentials of a marketing research consultancy is to take a look at which professional bodies they belong to.

Three of those we’re members of are the Market Research Society  the Association for Qualitative Research , and the Independent Consultants Group . All three have really useful online directories, and the MRS also has a Professional Code of Conduct  which we and all members subscribe to.

How Do You Write a Research Brief?

December 2008

How Do You Write a Research Brief?

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the second edition of ‘better insight’ – the newsletter that’s full of helpful tips and advice – all aimed at ensuring you get the most from your market research.

And, because we firmly believe research should be fun, each month we include a cartoon that illustrates our theme.

In this newsletter, we present Zippy Research, an agency that’s in such a hurry to ‘process’ clients, it doesn’t bother about small things like briefs. A big mistake, in our view.

At Research Insight, we’re nothing like Zippy Research. We don’t just encourage you to give us a full brief – we also give you all the help you need to write one! Read on to find out more.

We’re really interested to know what you think about this newsletter, and would love to hear your feedback. So if you have a moment, do write and tell us what we could do to make it even better.

Lastly, as Christmas edges closer, we’d like to send our warmest seasonal wishes to you, your colleagues, friends and family. Instead of sending Christmas cards, we’ve decided to spend the same amount through Oxfam Unwrapped providing a donkey, a bicycle, books, radios, seeds, farming tools, clean water and a few hundred school meals to the needy in developing countries! Check it out for yourself – it’s the perfect Christmas gift, with something for everybody!

Happy reading…and Happy Christmas!

Martin Holliss

How Do You Write a Research Brief?

Why is a brief so important? It’s a bit like the foundation of a building – put in the spadework early on and your project is more likely to start on the right foot. Skimp on this critical early step, and your project is more likely to struggle.

So how do you write a brief that gets you off to a great start?

Begin with a short summary of your current situation, and define clearly what you already know. It’s helpful if you also include details on how you think responsibility for the project should divide between you and your chosen research agency.

Next, set out your business objectives and research objectives.

For business objectives, what is your overall strategy and how does this research link into it? What will you do with the information you get – what action do you expect to take?

For research objectives, what issues and topics do you want to explore or discover? What problems do you need to solve? Defining clear business and research objectives will help your research agency design a well-focused study. Clear objectives will also help you to assess the quality and focus of your research agency’s report.

Offer your suggestions about how the data might be collected. Of course, a reputable agency will give you plenty of guidance on this one. Unlike Zippy Research, a reputable agency will be interested in finding out what you think. For example, which research methodology (or methodologies) you think will best suit your project, and why; your view on the type of people whose views need to be understood; and what stimulus material you think the researchers should use to gain the richest possible insight.

Describe what you expect to get out of the project – the ‘deliverables’. You might just want advice on designing a survey, for example. Or perhaps you need statistically-robust data? Or maybe you’d like a full report complete with data, interpretation and clear recommendations to highlight decisions you should take. Whatever your expectations, be sure the agency clearly understands what you want.

Suggest a timetable. What is your deadline for receiving proposals? When will you commission the research, and what milestones (if any) do you have to meet? When do you need results?  Your agency will let you know if the proposed timetable is too ambitious (or too generous!).

By the way, don’t forget to ask your research agencies what help they can give you with putting together a brief. If the answer is ‘none’ or ‘not much’, the chances are they won’t be much help during the later stages of your project either.

At Research Insight we are always happy to offer advice, because we want your project to be a success. If we ever stop providing impressive service, we should get out of market research and make widgets instead!

Business Insight

A Research Insight client wanted to understand the opportunities for their product within the 10 largest European Union export markets. Their aim was to prioritise the market(s) they would enter.

While the client wanted a full assessment of all 10 markets, we quickly realised that their budget would only stretch to a full assessment of three markets.

So, having defined a set of clear and tightly focused objectives, we worked closely with the client to understand their actual/real need. This enabled us to propose a two-stage process.

First, we used a combination of desk/secondary research and telephone executive interviews to prioritise the attractiveness and potential of the market in each country.

Based on that research, we identified two markets with particularly high attractiveness and potential, and conducted a thorough assessment of each.

The outcome? The client was able to choose which market to enter. They spent less on research than they expected and got the information they needed. Without a clear brief and detailed realistic discussion of the options, such a clear outcome would not have been possible.


If you’d like to find out more about marketing research, including how to put together a brief, the Market Research site has a library of helpful articles for you to read.

What Are the Seven Steps to Better Market Research?

What Are the Seven Steps to Better Market Research?


Dear Reader,

Happy New Year! And welcome to ‘better insight’ – the newsletter dedicated to maximising the value you gain from your market research.

At Research Insight, we’re passionate about good research. But we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Which is why each issue of this newsletter includes an original cartoon to illustrate our theme.

This month we have some ideas on how to achieve the most action and value from your investment in market research.

The tips outlined in the short article below are practical and powerful. They should also help you avoid the stress felt by the overworked Research Manager in our cartoon!

But if you already feel like that, don’t despair! Send me an email and we’ll be delighted to help.

Happy reading…and a prosperous 2009!

Martin Holliss

Martin Holliss

What Are the Seven Steps to Better Market Research?

Here is our step-by-step guide to squeezing the maximum value from your investment in market research.

  1. Plan: First of all, plan ahead. Tempting as it is to think, “I need results and fast”, there are benefits in allowing plenty of time between initial discussions about your research project and the deadline for your report. By not rushing things at the outset, you reduce the risk of major gaps in the design of your survey. As a result, the data that’s collected – and the analysis and recommendations – will almost certainly be more robust.
  2. Review: Next, take a look at what you’ve already got. It’s amazing how many companies have research reports gathering dust on shelves, or stuffed in filing cabinets. Within these reports are all kinds of nuggets of information. At best, you may discover that you already have the answers to your current questions/issues and don’t need to commission new research. At worst you’ll be reminded of what you already know, and so what you don’t need to include in your new survey. There is no point whatsoever in spending money researching a question/issue if you already know the answer!
  3. Objectives: Importantly, you should draft two sets of objectives: business objectives (how the research links into your overall business strategy) and research objectives (what questions/issues you want the research project to explore or discover). Ideally each set of objectives should contain no more than four concisely-written bullet points. These objectives should underpin the design of the survey and questionnaire, and be used to measure success of the survey report.
  4. Brief: Now prepare a detailed written brief. It will keep you – and your agency – focused on what you need to achieve. For more information on what to include in a brief take a look at last month’s better insight.
  5. Robust: Even if tempted, don’t cut corners – make sure your research methodology is robust. If your survey sample is too small, or you compromise on survey design, you risk ending up with misleading results that could damage your business. Sometimes the best advice is not to commission research after all, especially if your budget is too small or time is too short. Only commission research if valid, robust, results can be guaranteed.
  6. Recommendations: Get the best from your researchers and demand action-focused recommendations. Good market researchers are used to working with robust data to identify opportunities, and decisions that need to be taken. Take full advantage of their probing, independent insight!
  7. Action: Since a really valuable survey will help you make even better decisions, the seventh and final step to better market research is take action! At Research Insight we’ll leave you in no doubt: if you don’t plan to take action, don’t commission a survey – save your money instead!

Case History

A public sector client appointed us to run an online youth survey. From the outset, it was clear that they wished to set realistic (not rushed) timelines to maximise quality and data integrity.

While a detailed brief had already been drafted, the first thing we did was to help tighten up the business and research objectives. Once these had been agreed we reviewed existing knowledge, and drafted a questionnaire containing carefully worded questions, each of which fed into the defined research objectives.

Careful project management during fieldwork resulted in robust data from more than 6500 youths and 35 schools/colleges. The data was then weighted (using a RIM weighting technique), to ensure it was fully representative of young people.

The survey had to feed into the client’s strategic plan, which meant we had to explore and report key findings based on a wide range of specific topics and themes. During analysis, we used simple crosstabulations linked to powerful statistical significance tests. We also used complex regression analysis to uncover hidden patterns in the data.

The end result? A series of initiatives was developed and launched. What’s more, the client recently contacted us to discuss repeating the survey. Clearly a happy client!


To receive a PDF version of our “Seven Steps to Better Market Research”, click here  or visit www.research-insight.com/download.htm. You can also obtain a summary of different market research techniques (and when each should be used), and a useful “statistical significance calculator” (to establish the accuracy of your survey data for different sample sizes). Plus you’ll receive a few more light-hearted cartoons! All these documents come free-of-charge, with our compliments.

And if you’d like to find out more about effective market research, B2B Marketing Online has lots of useful articles.

What else do we do?

At Research Insight  we offer a full range of desk/secondary, qualitative and quantitative research (by telephone, in-person and online), conducted in any country and language you need. We place particular effort on analysis and delivering action-focused results.

To achieve this, we’ve developed a powerful process to deliver the maximum value possible from your research investment. We call this process Findings, Meanings, Action. It works like this:

  • we highlight the key findings from your survey
  • we then explore the meaning of these findings, in the context of everything we know about your company, your competitors, your customers and your marketplace;
  • finally, we highlight the action you need to take, by making a series of robust, fact-based, recommendations.

By the way, all our work comes with a 100% unconditional ‘no quibble’ guarantee.

If you’d like to find out more, or think we can help you or one of your colleagues, drop us an email .

How Can Market Research Help You Maximise Export Success

February 2009
How Can Market Research Help You Maximise Export Success?

Dear Reader,

Welcome to ‘better insight’, the newsletter packed with research know-how to keep your business ahead of the field.

With the dramatic slide in the value of Sterling, and despite the recession, there has rarely been a more compelling time to start exporting from the UK, especially to our fellow EU countries and North America.

But nowhere is fact-based decision-making more critical than when planning to venture into the export marketplace.

While trying to export without robust research is a recipe for disaster, using robust research to inform your export plans and decisions can help your business really go places – in every sense.

So read on for some tips on how to reap the rewards (and avoid the pitfalls) of ‘going global’.

Rest assured, the export team at Research Insight really is standing by…and, comprising several nationalities, our hat stand is well stocked!

Happy reading!


Martin Holliss

How Can Market Research Help You Maximise Export Success?

1. Firstly, is exporting right for your business/market? Go back to basics and ask yourself this question.  Low-cost feasibility research will save you from costly failure trying to enter a market that’s not right for you. It will also help you decide where to focus your effort.

2. Be clear on what you want to achieve. Entering a new export market is a huge step, and is not one to be rushed.  It’s worth taking time to think carefully about what you want to achieve and why.  If you’ve already made a definite decision to export, do you need a more thorough prioritisation of the opportunity in several countries or a clear understanding of one specific country?  Or do you simply need profiles of potential customers and names of their key contacts?

3. Understand the market(s) you’re entering. Export research will identify the market size/trends, and your competitors, their strategies and major clients.  It can also highlight the most successful distribution channels and define the customer decision-making process.  It will point up cultural issues and aspects that you will need to take into account. Extensive desk/secondary research is usually needed as well as targetted ‘detective-style’ telephone conversations.  Sometimes in-person research may be needed.

4. Use experienced export researchers. Managing a research project in one country (whose language, culture and market structure you understand) is complex enough.  Now imagine exploring several different cultures/markets, in several different languages and several time zones!  Export research calls for different skills from ‘standard’ research, so make sure that your chosen agency has a solid track record.  Then work with them as a partner.  The more background you share, the more they’ll be able to add value.

5. Avoid pitfalls that lead to unreliable results. Sloppy translation and cultural differences between nationalities are two common pitfalls.  Just translating a document is not enough.  “Back translation” (back into English) is also needed to be sure that the translated text mirrors the original.  While telephone research may be fine in European countries, often in-person research is better, and is sometimes needed.  And, in some countries if someone says ‘I would buy this product’ they may actually mean ‘I would not buy this product’…but they don’t wish to offend you by saying it to your face.  You need to know these things, but do you?!

6. Tap into available grants. Why pay the full cost of your research if you can get someone else to contribute?!  The Government-funded Export Market Research Scheme (EMRS) will normally pay either 33% or 50% of the cost of your research.  All you have to do is follow some simple guidelines and obtain quotations from 3 different research agencies.  While you can decide which agency to commission your research with, here’s a hint…Research Insight is selected in a high proportion of cases!

7. Talk to the experts! If you’re thinking about exporting for the first time (or entering a new market), why not talk to us?  We’re in a great position to design an export research study for you, to reveal and explore the differences between countries and the opportunities presented by each one.  You can call us on +44 1235 812456 or send us an email.  We’d be delighted to help.


Export Research Case History
A manufacturer of temperature-controlled packaging (for medical/pharmaceutical products, amongst others) wanted to understand the opportunities in an Asian market.

Having obtained an EMRS research grant (see above), extensive desk/secondary research and data modelling was used to establish that the market was sufficiently large.  It also highlighted the company’s main competitors (both local and international) and their sales strategies, identified the main routes to market, and produced a list of the high-volume buyers/users of such packaging.  Telephone research (in both English and the local language) enabled us to profile the main customers, competitors and distributors.

After contacting the customers and distributors of particular interest, our client then visited the country to open sales and distribution negotiations.  The market intelligence they had from our research proved pivotal in these negotiations.

The end result?  A highly successful market entry (the client is now one of the main suppliers in the country concerned), which led onto a market entry study for a second (even larger) Asian country.


If you are considering exporting, here are some useful sites you should visit:

UK Trade & Investment offers a range of services and resources to any business wishing to expand overseas.  Their Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) and Export Market Research Scheme (EMRS) are two services you should definitely consider, especially if you are new to exporting.

The Gov.uk website also has lots of useful information to help businesses enter the international arena.

And if you’re interested in exporting to (or even sourcing from) China and want to brush up on business culture/etiquette, or perhaps if you’d like assistance during negotiations, do take a look at the China Insight website.  Their key aim is to help you reach your China business goals.


What else do we do?

At Research Insight we don’t just help clients with research into overseas markets.  We also help consumer and b2b clients discover more about their home market.

Our clients cover a huge range of consumer and b2b sectors, internationally.  You name it, we’re likely to have worked in it!

A wholly-independent research consultancy, the hallmark of our approach is to be practical, problem solving and action-focused.  If that sounds like what you need, drop us an email or call us on +44 1235 812456.



How Can Intelligence Make Your Business More Competitive?

March 2009

How Can Intelligence Make Your Business More Competitive?

Dear Reader,

Welcome to ‘better insight’, the newsletter dedicated to keeping your business well ahead of the competition.

Competitor intelligence will help you outwit, outmanoeuvre and outflank your competitors. Keep reading to find out how you do this!

How much do you know about your competitors? What are they doing, how and why are they doing it, and where are they doing it better (or worse) than you? How much do you know about the markets in which you and they operate? And how are you using that knowledge?

Armed with answers to these questions, you’ll dramatically increase your competitive advantage!

Needless to say, an off-the-shelf solution from “Fabbo Market Research” (see our cartoon) won’t be much help since you’ll need research tailored to your precise needs…and that’s where we can help.

Happy reading!


Martin Holliss

What are the Seven Steps to Getting Competitive?

So how do you outwit, outmanoeuvre and outflank your competitors?

1.  Know what your competitors are up to. You probably know who your competitors are. But you may not know that much about what they do or how they do it. And even if you have a fair amount of information, are you sufficiently independent to make a truly objective assessment?

2.  Decide what you need to know about your competitors. There are two main levels of information you may want to consider. The first is competitor profiling, designed to give you financial, strategic and marketing information. The second is ongoing news about your competitors’ activities. This could be delivered to you via daily news alerts or a weekly digest. A monthly or quarterly summary could form the basis for a Competitor Intelligence newsletter.

3.  Gather information from a variety of sources. A lot of information can be gathered using desk research, for example by reviewing websites, articles, annual reports and bulletin boards. A word of warning though: be wary of what your competitors say in their blogs. Blogs tend to be used to put forward views and opinions – and often contain hype designed for public consumption. By contrast, what you need is robust, reliable and provable fact about what your competitors are up to.

4.  Supplement desk research with targeted telephone interviews. These might be with your competitors’ customers, journalists and editors of trade journals, trade associations…and even directors/managers working for your competitors (see #6 below for more on this). It’s amazing what people tell us when we ask them! At Research Insight, we think of this phase as ‘detective style’ interviews. Designed to elicit nuggets of information, they enable us to build a rich fact-based picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your competitor(s).

5.  Keep a careful eye on online activity. Search engine positions – both sponsored and ‘natural’ – can reveal a lot about your competitors’ strategy and tactics. For instance, you can spot competitors with a strong natural search engine position, find out why and apply this knowledge to your own website. Another powerful tool is regular, structured reviewing of competitor websites to see which pages they’ve changed (e.g. visuals, headlines, sections of text). This gives direct insight into their latest sales, marketing and product development decisions.

6.  Consider employing a specialist market research agency. Of course, we’d say that, wouldn’t we! But it makes sound business sense. You could do the work yourself, but we know where to go to find the information you need. Consider also that your competitors are unlikely to tell you what you want to know, but they’ll usually respond very positively to a call from an independent agency such as Research Insight. And, being detached from your market place, it’s easier for us to see things and to spot opportunities that you might miss.

7.  Be willing to act on what you discover. There is little point knowing who your competitors are, and how/why they’re being successful, if you’re not prepared to change your business strategy or tactics in response. But if you do, then you’ll dramatically increase your competitive advantage.

Competitor Intelligence Case Study

One of our clients places such a high value on gathering competitor intelligence that they commissioned us to provide thethree different strands of information:

  • Regular searches for competitor news and announcements, feeding into a weekly “Competitor News Alert” and a quarterly “Competitor Newsletter”.
  • Extensive analysis of search engine performance fortnightly, to highlight “natural” and “sponsored” positions (for Google, Yahoo and MSN) both for them and for several competitors, across a range of markets and keywords.
  • A detailed review of every page of the websites of their main competitors, highlighting all changes and additions.

The results give them a clear snapshot of their competitors’ marketing and positioning, and reveal both strategic and tactical opportunities for their own business. There is no question that this competitive intelligence is placing them in a stronger position.


Business Link has a huge amount of incredibly useful “DIY information” on understanding market trends and keeping an eye on your competitors. This includes a fascinating case study on Bladonmore a firm that had the time and motivation to conduct competitor research themselves.

The Office of National Statistics has produced a thorough guide to effective internet searching, which although it’s now a few years old, includes, in Part 10, useful tips on gathering competitor intelligence.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing have an excellent 7-page introduction to competitor intelligence on their website and are offering a 1-day course dedicated to competitor intelligence on 11 May 2009 .

What else do we do?

At Research Insight, as well as undertaking market/competitor intelligence in a huge range of markets, we also carry out qualitative and quantitative research for our clients.

Qualitative research usually involves interviewing a relatively small number of people. It’s ideal if you need to understand the feelings or motivations of your customers.

Quantitative research tends to involve larger numbers of people. It’s ideal if you need statistically robust data to tell you what percentage of people think x or y about something, or how many own a particular product.

And if you’re not sure which research methodology (or combination of methodologies) is most appropriate for finding out what you need to know, just get in touch and we’ll be happy to advise.

Lastly, if you choose Research Insight to handle your competitive intelligence research we guarantee unconditionally to deliver robust results and clear, action-focused recommendations.

Is Online Research Really That Good?

May-June 2009

Better Insight – Is Online Research Really That Good?

Dear Reader,

Our survey says that … online research might be cheaper and faster than ‘traditional’ research methods. But is it everything it’s cracked up to be? How can you use it to find out what you need to know about your clients and your competitors? How can you use it to help make those really important decisions to help move your business forward? Read on to find out!

Best wishes,

Martin Holliss

e: martinh@research-insight.com
t: +44 1235 812 456
m: +44 7931 376501

Is Online Research Really That Good?

Here are some questions and answers, to help you decide and to give you some ideas on how and where you can use online research.

1. Is online research cheaper than traditional methods? In certain situations, yes. Online research will cost less than telephone interviewing, but set-up costs can be higher. Telephone research may be cheaper for 100 interviews but online will usually be cheaper if you’re doing 500 or more interviews.

2. So is online research best for large surveys? Done correctly, online research works very well both for large and small surveys. Much depends on what you need to find out, the type of people you need to ask and on how well your questionnaire is designed.

3. Why is questionnaire design so important? To make sure your data is reliable. Too many surveys are designed just to collect answers – you need to think about who is answering the survey and how easy it is for them to give you accurate answers.

4. But isn’t collecting answers the whole point? Of course! But a poorly designed questionnaire won’t give you what you need – reliable, robust insight. If you ask too many questions, or give too many options to choose from, you’ll create ‘respondent fatigue’ where any old answer is entered just to finish the survey!

5. Can online research reach the people I am interested in? Yes if you design it properly and make sure you can reach a representative sample of the right population.

6. So is online research worth considering? Definitely! Sometimes it’s the best tool to use, such as following up on customer feedback or complaints posted on your website, where time is of the essence. Online research is also ideal if you need to survey people from different countries (but do make sure your translations are “word perfect”!).

I hope these questions and answers have given you some ideas on how and where you can use online research to get your business ahead of your competitors.

Using Online Research to Reach the Online Generation

We were asked to interview 4-14 year old children right across a County.

The survey needed to engage the children so we could measure exactly what they were thinking. We had to include children from all socio-economic groups, many with a range of disabilities. No surprise as well that timelines were short and the budget was limited!

A carefully designed online questionnaire was piloted on a small number of students to make sure it worked; some of the children drew pictures that were used for the survey screens and to illustrate our report.  Then, over a four-week period, 6500 children completed the survey during their IT classes.

The result? A very happy client, who got the action-focused information they needed, on time and on budget! Click here to see other happy clients who have used our online research service.


Here is some more information on online research, to help you decide if it’s right for you.

  • Click here to read guidelines on when and how to conduct online brand effectiveness research.
  • The MRS are running an online research conference in London on 3 June 2009 – “Making Online Research Even Better”. Click here for more details.

What Else Do We Do?

We don’t just do online research! We also do:

  • Desk research – ideal for building up a snapshot of a market size and trends, or your main competitors, whether you’re focusing on a single country or international markets.
  • Telephone interviews – great for consumer and b2b surveys where you need a representative sample.
  • Focus groups – useful for exploring questions such as what, why, when, how, where, and who. Focus groups are great for uncovering and exploring opinions, perceptions and experiences.

To find out more about any of the issues in this newsletter, or see how we can help with any of your research needs, click here to send me an email or call me on +44 (0) 1235 812 456.

How Do You Find Your Ideal Partner?

August 2009

How Do You Find Your Ideal Partner?


Dear Reader

“Ambitious, growing business seeks research agency for long-term, productive relationship. Time wasters need not apply.”

OK, so we’ve never actually seen an ad like that. But we’ve met plenty of clients who could have written something very similar. In fact, a fair few of them have selected us as their long-term partner.

Selecting a research agency for a committed relationship has several parallels with searching for Mr or Ms Right. But the good news is you don’t have to trawl the Lonely Hearts pages to find them: instead, try our useful tips for finding a client/agency match made in heaven.

Happy reading!

Martin Holliss

e: martinh@research-insight.com
t: +44 1235 812 456
m: +44 7931 376501

So how do you find the ideal research partner?

The pointers below will help you draw up a shortlist. And take a look at our Resources section too for a couple of links you may find helpful.

  1. Think long-term. Finding an agency to be a research partner for your business is different from selecting an agency for a one-off assignment. If you’re looking for a lasting relationship, you’ll need an agency with wide experience and a broad knowledge base.
  2. Check out their character. The list of qualities you’ll be looking for from the agencies on your short list might look something like this: open-minded; inquisitive; challenging; problem solving approach; strongly independent.
  3. Assess their expertise. Don’t reject an agency out of hand just because it doesn’t have specific expertise in your business sector. Overall mindset and breadth of research expertise are just as important – and perhaps more so.
  4. Find out who else they know. If specific industry expertise really is critical, ask your shortlisted agencies if they have the flexibility to co-opt director-level experts onto their project team. (See our Resources section for more about this.)
  5. Be prepared to be checked out yourself. It’s a good sign if an agency has some searching questions for you, too. After all, if you’re going to enter into a partnership they’ll need to understand the dynamics of your business in order to recommend actions that are feasible for you.
  6. Know what you want out of the relationship. You know you need a partnership (as opposed to a one-off ‘fling’) if you’re frustrated about having to explain yet again what your business does to yet another research agency. Or if you want your agency to build on what they know each time you commission a research project.
  7. Go for commitment. Consider the benefits to you of forming a partnership with a smaller agency – for example, having directors, rather than junior staff, working on your projects. Don’t forget that when you work with an agency as a partner, you are much more likely to enjoy the directors’ full commitment to your assignments.


Partnering a Broad Range of Industries

For obvious reasons we don’t like to publicise names of clients with whom we have strong strategic relationships.

But we’re happy to say that we have such client relationships in a wide range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, higher education, pharmaceutical/healthcare and technology.

Depending on the size of their business and their research needs, such a client may commission just two or three studies each year. At the other extreme, there is an almost constant flow of research.

Whether the amount of research is large or small, we’re told that our client service is impressive. Nothing is too much trouble. Really. Try us and see!


Small agencies often have big alliances. For example, Research Insight is a member of the Independent Consultants Group, which gives access to 350+ director-level research consultants with a very wide range of specialist expertise. Click here to find out more.

And if you’re looking for more information about what market research agencies are out there, you can search online using The Research Buyer’s Guide . All organisations listed conform to high professional standards and, as members of the Market Research Society, adhere to the MRS Code of Conduct.

What else does Research Insight offer?

Whether you are a new or a returning client, the work we do for you will always be tailored to your specific needs and the business challenge(s) you want to address.

If you’re wondering whether or not you have a need for market research, here are some of the areas in which research can help you.

customer surveys – do you know how satisfied your customers are with your product or service?

competitor research – how can you get ahead of your competition before they get ahead of you?

new product development – have you got all the angles covered before you launch your new product or service?

employee satisfaction – how can you get the very best out of the people who work for you?

communication material – is your marketing as memorable as it needs to be?

For an informal chat about any of the above, click here to drop us a line or call us on 01235 812456. We’re always happy to help!