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7MI Series – This article is the third of a 9-part series as we introduce the 7 Economics and Market Intelligence Essentials for Public Procurement. We will also be launching the 7MI Challenge as part of this series. Please see all related articles in this series at the end of this post.

In the previous article, we discussed Essential #1 from the 7 Economics and Market Intelligence Essentials for Public Procurement (7MI) framework – the need to define the needs and outcomes. We dove deep into what some may describe as the most important part of any procurement, “understanding the need and what matters most” and defining what success means.  

Once we understand the need and desired outcomes, we can then get to Essential #2 – Planning and organizing our research questions and keywords.  Before jumping into google and punching in a few search queries, we would empahasize that spending even a short 30 minutes in planning out your research will yield enormous benefits.  You will be focused on the right questions rather than “boiling the ocean”. Additionally, you will be armed with the right techniques that get you to the data you need to develop critical insights about the market.

Essential #2 – Organizing your research questions and keywords

There are three key parts to planning and organizing your research:  1) Identifying key questions that you want answered 2) Identifying potential keywords that you know of based on the need and 3) Identifying potential research resources.  I will say that each of these will be modified as you start your research and discover information

We have divided Essential #2 into two areas:

  • Identifying key questions – these questions are focused on understanding the market and capabilities of suppliers
  • Identifying potential sources which can be appended as you discover more of the
  • Listing out potential keywords – identifying keywords associated with your search will lead to more efficient research.

Let’s start by identifying key market research questions  

Basically, before you can get started, you need to ask the right questions to make sure you are gathering the right data. While each market research project may include a different set of questions, we’ve organized them into a few key categories as listed below.  Don’t just take all of these generic questions but focus on the ones you really need to answer. Also, be practical and mindful of how much time you may have.

Market Segments/Size/Growth

  • What are the various market segments and related offerings?
  • What is the value chain?
  • What are the key trends in the market?

Supplier Base

  • Who are the various suppliers? Small/large? Incumbent/new? Minority-owned?
  • Are there other players that bring new capabilities?

Capabilities of Suppliers

  • What are the key capabilities of suppliers?
  • What are the key differences among suppliers?
  • How do they match with your most critical requirements?

“Economics” of Cost and Pricing

  • What is the cost structure of suppliers?
  • Cost elements vs. cost drivers?
  • What are the pricing models?

Identifying potential sources

Market research can be time-consuming so it is also important to know how to quickly find the right sources.  As the video below shows, we’ve divided sources into two categories:

  • Secondary research – leverage existing sources that may already have the answers you need.  The attached video lists out a few sources that you can leverage including industry reports, 10K financial reports, websites and more.
  • Primary research – additionally, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk to suppliers, call up industry associations, call up experts. People are ready and willing to share their expertise. All it takes is some courage on your part.

Listing out potential keywords 

The last piece in organizing your research is about identifying keywords.  Let’s face it, we’ve all done google searches where we getting nothing relevant back. We go back and try other words…and then again.

Taking a few minutes to identify the right keywords is really critical and can make the whole market research process so much bettter.  To form your keywords, use:

  • Any of the needs or scope statements
  • Previous documents
  • Commodity codes like PSC or NAICS – look at their definitions and pull out some of the words
  • Industry reports to see what other words people use

You can also use our keyword template to get started!  

Watch this excerpt from a previous that provides insight into each of the three planning pieces discussed above.

Market research is not easy. But it does not need to be rocket science either.  A bit of planning and organizing a long way to getting the most out of your work.

Links to other articles/resources in series: