Out of Date Market Research

A fellow sent me some market research today and he was all excited… Cool, its always good when folks do their homework. Alas, the more I read, the more I kept thinking, what planet are these authors on? There was warning sign after warning sign that something was seriously amiss.

Alas, I googled some of the execs quoted in the paper. The key fellow quoted had left his employer in 2007! A bit more googling showed the trending data they were discussing had come and gone in 2004! In hindsight the big warning sign on the whole thing was the lack of a date range for data collection to say nothing of the date of publication. Bottom line, I gave the paper the benefit of a doubt and it cost me.

I fully understand the massive expense of hard core in house market research. I also understand why folks can find it anathama to spend $$$$ for a member ship in a trade association to access current data, or $$$ to buy a single paper. On the other hand, imagine how much this fellow might have spent had he proceeded down a path only to find out he was totally out of sync with his target market 3-6 months later.

In the pre911 days, when I was often in Washington DC, I’d often cruise over to the library of congress just to read market research papers. Often times even the really spendy ones came with a pride factor or something else and they would get deposited there. Alas, such is not the option for most of us, to say nothing of the restriction headaches in today’s security world.

Alas, some market research papers are available, or can be inferred out of data sets available at larger university libraries. Alas, such is often times beyond the scope of a research librarians pervue, but one can get an inkling if a day trip is justified to scope things out in person or not. Albeit such is market dependent… some niche papers have such low demand, the only way the publishers can recoup costs is charging an arm, a leg, and then some.

Alas, one still runs into publishing delays should one be operating in a fast moving market. It would be a sad deal indeed to ride out the low margin tail end of a short cycle market due to delayed upfront data. Granted, most small inventor types run on long tails rather than the leading edge, but its always something to keep in mind.

As such, the pretotype, the minimum viable product, or even vaporware methods of market research can be used to validate ones ideas in light of published data sets. The challenge of course is doing the right type and amount of paper research before entering said stage. Ie, most MVP’s, pretotypes, and even vaporware have an opportunity cost associated with them. There needs to be a reasonable balance between the initial paper based pre-work, and the firm, aim, ready approach or time and money will be wasted.


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