Malleable Musings

May 14, 2009

Competitor Market Research

Filed under: Market Research — Brendan @ 2:42 pm

I had an experience the other day that made me question the logic behind appointing external market research companies.

The background is that our information centre received an email that they forwarded to me from a Business Analyst within a market research firm. The firm had been commissioned by a client an online law degree provider based in the UK to explore the feasibility of launching its online law program in Canada.

Given that I currently work for the largest university provider of UK law degrees and I’m about to move to another large distance learning provider (who in the interview task asked me to deliver a presentation about marketing a law degree) my interest was naturally peaked. At the very least I wanted to know who the additional competition would be. So I duly emailed back saying I’d be very happy to talk to them.

The phone call itself was odd, as the market research company were based in India and there was a bit of a delay on the line. I found out who the client was, their current thinking about pricing and a little about what positioning and entry strategies they were thinking about.

But I can’t work out, what if anything from the interview, that the market research firm will be able to feed back to their client (that the client doesn’t know already).  Most of the questions that they asked weren’t relevant to me as a competitor, as they were questions that needed to be directed elsewhere.

I’m amazed at how inefficient this piece of research was.  It provided very little in the way of competitor information and certainly no market understanding.  I didn’t say too much that couldn’t have been gleaned from our website.  I was honest and didn’t lead them to any false assumptions, which as a competitor I could have been tempted to do.

A different and more fruitful conversation may well have taken place if the client had contacted me / or one of my colleagues directly.

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