You are here

SFU Library blog, BUEC Buzz, with colourful banner showing students

A current awareness resource for students & faculty members in Business & Economics

On gleaning data and insights from research firm sites...

Published May 9, 2014 by Mark Bodnar

Those of you who have had a business librarian visit your class may remember some discussion of the "likely publisher" categories for marketing information.  Even if you've never seen an image like the one below, you probably know that government agencies, industry associations, academics, companies, and news sources are all great places to look when you need some marketing information.


And you may have also noticed that private research firms can be a bit more difficult to research, given that such researchers often sell their reports for thousands of dollars.

In our classes, we often talk about ways to obtain some of the valuable information produced by such firms, whether it's from the few market/industry/survey report databases that we subscribe to, or (more likely) through mining the sites of the organizations that do buy such research and want to make the results public (especially industry associations and governments).  And we point out the value of checking general, business, and industry news sources (via databases such as Business Source, LexisNexis, Factiva, and Canadian Newsstream) to find any mention of the findings from such private sources.

There's also a slightly more direct method that you could try: Many private research firms provide at least partial results at their studies via blogs, press releases, and colourful infographics. Check out the sites below, for example.

  • Harris Vault & Harris Poll EquiTrend® Rankings  
    Did you know that half of all UK consumers say they would eat more fish if it was cheaper?  Or that US consumers are increasingly likely to have a negative view of cruise lines?  Harris Vault provides data on such topics from over 40 years of The Harris Poll® by Harris Interactive, a Nielsen company.  The EquiTrend® Rankings looks at the perception of key brands in many industries.  Both sources are generally US-focused, but worth a look for almost any topic.  Speaking of Nielsen, check out the “Insights” section of the broader Nielsen site. Some good stuff there, and generally just a (free) registration away.
  • IBISWorld: Media
    IBISWorld's Media page is a great place to find articles, spotlight reports, and press releases highlighting key findings across IBISWorld's many research areas.  For instance, did you know that Mother's Day sales in the US are expected to increase by 3% this year?  Note that SFU researchers do have full access to IBISWorld's Canadian, Chinese, Global, and US industry reports, but their media site touches on other areas and report types.
  • Insights West: News & Blog 
    Local polls!  Do you need to know what proportion of BC people believe that same-sex marriage, doctor-assisted suicide and abortion are morally acceptable? Or maybe you're curious about how British Columbians feel about religion, health care, the Senate, or work-life balance?  The Insights West site is worth watching if you do any local research! (They do talk about Alberta a bit, too...)
  • Boston Consulting Group: bcg.perspectives  
    This site requires (free) registration, but I think the content is worth it.  BCG provides global insights into developments in several industries (e.g., Financial Services), as well as hot business topics such as Change Management.
  • Ipsos Ideas Spotlight  
    Great bits of data and infographics from public opinion polling company, Ipsos.  See "Canadian Ethnic Group Use of the Internet and Twitter for Public Discourse" or "Kids and Social Media" for a couple examples.  Note that our Ipsos News Centre database will give you even more detailed data on most (but not all!) of the same surveys. I'm especially fond of their Socialogue series of studies.
  • Euromonitor: Analyst Insight (blog)  
    Although we do provide the incredibly deep and useful Passport market research database with much of Euromonitor's survey results and analysis, sometimes you might just want the quick view.  Start with their blog to learn about trends in things like household robotics and targeting the middle class in Latin America.
  • Business Monitor Blog  
    A resource from the Business Monitor International folks, this blog focuses on global industrial, economic and political developments that are relevant to doing business. Many of the posts are lacking in useful details (really just mini-ads for their reports), but some of them are more substantive, plus they offer some great little audio-casts.  And even the stuff that just highlights their ($) research might be useful as we do provide access to some BMI Industry Insights in databases like LexisNexis, Business Source Complete, and Factiva.
  • comScore Insights
    Frequent readers of the BUEC Buzz will already know that we love comScore's free (with registration) Data Gems (infographics), whitepapers, presentations, and more.  If you want to know what people are doing in the digital world, this is a good place to start!
  • Mintel blog
    The social media section of another global market research company.  Mintel reports cover a broad range of products, industries, and countries, but they seem to be particularly strong in the areas of food & drink, and household goods.
  • MarketLine’s blog  
    As you may already know, there are many MarketLine industry, country, and market reports in our Business Source Complete resource, but they cover far more than what you see in that database, and their blog often has fragments that you can use.
  • New Strategist’s newsletter  
    New Strategist publications are focused on US consumers -- making use of data from sources such as the US Consumer Expenditure Survey.  We have some of their publications online in the collection, but (again) it doesn't hurt to see what they say on their site!

And that is just a taste of what's out there!  Frankly, although it's still true that having full (subscription) access to some of the big market & industry report databases can make research much simpler, no one (and no library!) can afford everything. Isn't it fortunate that there are some bits of free data that you can gather, evaluate, triangulate, and extrapolate...?

-- MarkB

... on behalf of your Business/Economics Librarian team:

  • Mark Bodnar (Business – Burnaby):
  • Megan Sorenson (Business – Vancouver):
  • Andrea Cameron (Business – Surrey):
  • Carla Graebner (Economics – Burnaby):