Making Intelligence Count

Sean A. Meehan
International Institute of Management Development, Switzerland 

WHY LEARN ABOUT MARKETS?

The rise of the market intelligence business continues unabated. Companies and their executives crave a more thorough understanding of customers expressed and latent needs, their decision making processes, product and service information search strategies, as well as competitors value propositions and capabilities. ESOMAR estimates that global market research expenditure in 1997 was almost $12 billion (an increase of 18% over 1996 and approximately doubling over the previous seven years). The European Union remains the largest market for research, accounting for 41% of the global total. Within that, 63% is accounted for by the United Kingdom, Germany and France. Although fast moving consumer goods remain the single largest research spender (accounting for 26% of the European total), there is solid representation from the public sector, broadcast media, automotive, financial services, wholesale/retail distribution, pharmaceutical and telecommunications. Research directed at measuring customer satisfaction accounted for 12% of the total, rising from 10% in 1996. The overall picture is clear: the market research industry is active in responding to managements demand for more, and better, market intelligence with which to inform strategy development and implementation.