Searching for Market Research Content
Locating Market Research content is less straightforward than company financial data – many databases provide this coverage (Thomson ONE.com, Bloomberg Professional, Capital IQ, Fame, Amadeus, Datastream – to see posts which include content on these, scroll down and click on the ‘Tag Cloud’ links on the right hand menu).
However, students often aren’t even aware specific databases exist to provide Market Research content, such as company/industry reports, analyst evaluations and market news.
With a systematic approach, searching in all Market Research databases which may have relevant content, is worthwhile. This is because the way research has been framed (i.e. what it looks at: online sales, but not sales from physical stores, for example) means it may not be an exact match to the enquiry (student assignment: essay or project), but nevertheless can be applied to it in some way, which still proves useful. In essence, many sources provide numerous small pieces of the puzzle, which come together to build a strong argument, to answer the enquiry.
Even if a student does locate a report which exactly matches their enquiry, the notion that a single report or source is sufficient should be dispelled. This would typically be spelt out in assessment criteria or marking scheme, employed by educational establishments. For example, ‘wide background reading’ [suggesting multiple sources]; ‘appropriate examples’ [plural: i.e. not just one large example/case study]; ‘good support and justification’ [material obtained through research provides the foundation from which analysis can be undertaken, to produce a successful piece of work]. It would be more appropriate to view such a report as the starting point – like a plant’s roots beginning to grow and branching out in different directions.
A number of databases are available which can provide useful Market Research content, such as:
Thomson Research (International focus: analyst reports at Company and Industry level).
Mintel (UK focus: with reports, news, analyst insights).
Frost & Sullivan (International focus: market insights, technical insights reports, industry research reports).
Passport (International focus: category briefings, statistics [company/brand market shares]).
Freedonia (International focus: reports – browse by industry [US] / country/region).
Factiva (International newspapers and trade journals [a publication linked to a particular industry – so different to an academic journal]. Can also be useful in providing background coverage for Mergers and Acquisitions deals (a deal is announced, how it progresses over time and finally completion).
Perhaps the best in terms of reports, due to the number and depth of coverage is Thomson Research, which is examined below.
Coverage: International market content, providing Analyst Reports at Company and Industry level.
Access: This database is designed to work with the Internet Explorer browser. In addition it is advisable to select Tools (the small cog icon at the top right of the screen) – Compatibility View Settings, then click on the ‘Add’ and ‘Close’ buttons, so all search features work as they should. Note: If other browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox are used, search features will not work as expected.
Searching – Analyst Reports – Company Level.
These reports provide an assessment of the factors affecting companies and industries, which may cover financial performance data, and some or all of the PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental) factors which could impact on current and future performance. This is perfect for student projects, in that they represent the same process the student is going through. That is, to research relevant content and provide an analysis based on this, to complete their assignment.
This is the default search screen [Research – Full Search]. All search and display options are contained on a single page.
Searching Tip #1: Although there is a dedicated ‘Company’ field, it is often more effective to enter the company name in the ‘Title’ field, which searches within report titles. This is because a company’s official name can be different to that in common usage, meaning if this ‘common usage’ version is entered in the ‘Company’ field, no results are returned. For example, Royal Bank of Scotland, often abbreviated to RBS, has the full name of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC.
Searching Tip #2: Sort Results by ‘Report Date – Descending’, is preferred, as this will show the most recent reports at the top of the list. This option can be selected from the drop down menu (bottom left of screen).
The other search options are straightforward. For this search: Collection = Investment Research, Report Type = Company, Report Date = Last Year, Title = Tesco PLC, then click on ‘Search’.
This search resulted in 183 reports, which is perhaps too many. Fortunately, it is quite quick to change the search by clicking on the ‘Edit Search’ button. Making use of a phrase (two or more search terms enclosed in quotation marks) in the Text field (i.e. content from the main body of reports) can be very effective. In the modified search, “online sales” have been added in the Text field.
This reduced the number of results to 5 reports. Click on ‘Tesco PLC’ report title (highlighted).
Click on ‘View’.
Click on ‘Submit’ to proceed:
The full text is then displayed in PDF format. For a large report, the PDF format is helpful, with the option to search for particular terms inside, using the ‘Find’ search box (Control – ‘F’ key), which appears at the top right of the screen.
The same search principles apply to ‘Industry’ level reports. The obvious difference being that Report Type is now ‘Industry’.
Choice of Search Terms
The value of being able to think of alternative search terms is that it is then possible to obtain new results. For example, a search which is too general will give many results. For an Industry level search, using just ‘Grocery’ in the Title field produces over 100 reports. By adding the phrase, “Tesco Sales”, in the Text field, this gave one result (‘UK Food Retail: Brexit Impacts Grocery Volumes Negatively’). Using an alternative Title search (UK Grocery) produced 10 reports, which is a reasonable number.
Additionally, alternative search terms can be obtained by looking at a dictionary definition of a particular term or a thesaurus. Sometimes search terms can only be encountered by looking within Market Research reports. For example, when the relative contribution of Internet and physical store sales is considered, certain terminology tends to prevail. So, ‘Online’ rather than Internet, and ‘Bricks and Mortar’, rather than physical stores.
Awareness of Market Research databases is a necessary first step to making use of these valuable resources. The databases listed above can provide useful content, to enable effective analysis by students, contributing to a successful piece of work.
Related post: Company and Industry Comparisons [Date: 10 July 2015].
The above databases are available to current students and staff of The University of Manchester.