The importance of market research and trends

‘Lies, damned lies, and statistics’ is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent’s point. The term was popularised in the United States by Mark Twain, who attributed it to the 19th-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881): ‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics’. Well, if Disraeli really said this it was in the 19th century and perhaps does not apply today as market research hits new levels of sophistication. If the print industry is to survive in the digital age, we need to know the trends and areas of growth. In the late 1990s Nick Rockey of Trialogue*, published an excellent review of the South African print industry. It was compiled from Data provided by most of the leading suppliers in the South African Print industry and provided us all with valuable insight into market size and growth. At the same time PIFSA commissioned Econometrix to compile further statistics which also helped. Since then there has been little or no market information specifically focused on Southern Africa and it has been left up to suppliers to take educated guesses. Thankfully there are now some international research companies who can give us a global view. Smithers PIRA produces some excellent reports on the global print, packaging and paper industry – these include: The Future of Corrugated Board Packaging to 2019 The Future of Digital Printing to 2024 The Future of Global Printing to 2018 The Future of Global Packaging to 2018 Ten-year Forecasts of Disruptive Technologies in Flexible Packaging to 2023 The Future of Global Security Printing Markets to 2018 The Future of Global Specialty Paper Markets to 2018 Take a look at https://www.smitherspira.com. Another company which specialises in the Wide Format and Digital Print market is Infosource based in Geneva, Switzerland. Michel Blanc**, Infosource MD, recently visited South Africa to gather data from all the major vendors and I had the chance to catch up with him in early April at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. ‘Michel old mate, this must be at least your 15th visit to South Africa’ I said, “please tell me more about Infosource”?’ ‘Founded in May 1985, infoSource has grown at a steady and regular pace to become the reference in Digital and wide format printers market sizing data in West and East Europe, as well as in the Middle East and Africa,’ said Michel over a glass of South African red wine. ‘The original business philosophy laid down by the founder has remained the same from the beginning. infoSource delivers what experts among our customers believe to be the most accurate market sizing data in a wide selection of industries.’ Certainly, I said, my experience of Infosource over the 20 years that I have co-operated with it is that its operational approach incorporates preliminary research, extremely accurate market sizing, comprehensive coverage and consistent reporting on a regular basis. The company’s strength lies in its detailed field research conducted on an individual model basis made possible by close working relationships with manufacturers and local vendors. ‘Collecting information in the various countries is, above all, a task requiring talented professionals with excellent relationship skills,’ said Celiwe Mkorongo who is responsible for gathering statistics for Africa for Infosource. ‘One of the most important challenges is to continuously adapt to new technical means of data delivery. Until recently infoSource published leather-bound reports. These reports were much appreciated by many of our clients,’ added Michel. ‘The need for efficiency has forced us to move away from paper reports and has led us to the development of Internet based solutions. Our iSIS on-line Internet service is unique in its class and appreciated by its many users. Already in its fourth version the service is continually improved and updated to bring more value to customers. ‘The fast moving environment brings many new challenges for the future. The reduction in the number of manufacturers in our traditional industries due to mergers, the booming Asian economy and the fast changing telecommunication environment are some of the variables we need to take into account to integrate into the future. We would like to assure all our clients that we intend to remain a hundred percent dedicated to delivering top quality services in the coming years.’ So before making an investment decision, or changing the direction of your company, consider taking a close look at market trends and focus on the areas of growth. *Nick (nick@trialogue.co.za) is the Managing Director of Trialogue. He has 20 years of consulting and research experience across many market and industry sectors and plays a lead consulting role in the fields of sustainable business and CSI. As such he has worked with a wide range of corporate clients, providing support for strategy development and implementation, stakeholder engagement and reporting. ** Infosource Managing Director Michel Blanc +41 22 879 57 61 mblanc@infosource.ch Infosource Africa Celiwe Mkorongo Africa Regional Manager Celiwe Mkorongo [cm@infosource.ch] -By Keith Solomon