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

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

Published 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, Nexis Uni, 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.

  • IBISWorld: Media
    IBISWorld's Media page is a great place to find analysts' insights, special reports, and even free industry statistics.  For instance, check out this short piece on the increase in online sales of secondhand clothing.  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 & Polls 
    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 Featured Insights 
    BCG provides global insights into developments in several industries (e.g., Financial Institutions), as well as hot business topics such as Social Impact & Sustainability.
  • Ipsos News & Polls
    Great data and infographics from global public opinion polling company, Ipsos.  See, for instance, these reports from polls that mention "vegetarian" and these reports that touch on "smart homes."  Be sure to scroll to the bottom of any relevant reports to see if they've supplied the full results!
  • 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.
  • Frost & Sullivan Blog
    Our Frost & Sullivan database is a great source for analysis and news concerning markets for emerging technologies, but if you not a current SFU student (or if you are on a case competition team and "subscription" resources are banned in your competition), then the F&S blog might be worth scanning. See these posts that mention "telematics," for instance.
  • Fitch Solutions 
    Fitch Solutions now publishes the many "Business Monitor International" or BMI industry reports.  Check out "Insights" along the top navigation bar for selections of free  articles, many of which contain substantive, research-based information, on industries ranging from Autos to Utilities & Power.  Don't forget that many of the full BMI reports are available for SFU researchers via our Nexis Uni database as well as via our Factiva database.
  • 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!
  • Nielsen Insights
    Global research on the media that people listen to and watch. The link above will take you to their Canada page, but consider exploring their USA, UK, and other country-focused Insights as well.

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): mbodnar@sfu.ca
  • Megan Sorenson (Business – Vancouver): megan_sorenson@sfu.ca
  • Andrea Cameron (Business – Surrey): amcamero@sfu.ca
  • Carla Graebner (Economics – Burnaby): cgraebne@sfu.ca