Archive for the ‘Economic Indicators’ Category
It would seem that the North American construction sector is experiencing something of an upswing. Indeed, a recent article in USA Today (“Construction industry faces worker shortage”, November 28, 2012) explains that, after shedding 2.2 million workers over the previous four years, contractors are now struggling with worker shortages as the home-building market comes to life and some commercial sectors strengthen. This is backed up by figures from the United States Census Bureau, showing that total monthly construction spending in the U.S. reached its highest levels for three years in October 2012 ($868,215m).
The current moderate upswing in activity has been borne out by increased construction sector activity across B2B International’s U.S. operations. According to New York-based Director Julia Cupman: “Throughout the course of 2012, we noticed a steady but marked increase in research proposals and commissions for market research across all areas of construction. While our work across wide-ranging industry sectors often enables us to pick out particular industry trends and patterns, I believe this particular uplift is a positive sign of a strengthening economy at large.”
With fears raised in the UK last week of Britain heading into a triple-dip recession, let’s hope the U.S. construction sector upswing is indicative of good news for the global economy.
You can find out more about our construction market research services here.
In March/April 2012, Asia Research (the industry journal for the market research industry in Asia) conducted its fifth annual survey of corporations in Asia who undertake market research through external firms. 108 interviews were conducted with individual research buyers in various corporations across Singapore, with some of the key findings summarized below:
On average, 7.1 projects (mean figure) are commissioned each year, a figure which has not changed much in the last year. Most companies (41%) commission between 2 and 4 projects.
Referrals was the most popular way of finding out about new market research agencies, with ‘consulting colleagues within their company’ (79%) and ‘consulting personal contacts in the research industry’ (77%) by far the most widespread methods employed. Attending networking conferences and seminars (51%), formal reviews of agencies (49%), receiving sales calls (46%) and Internet searches (45%) were the next most commonly used approaches.
Of the types of research suppliers used, almost 9 out of 10 research buyers (88%) turn to large multi-national agencies, the benefits of which are seen to include their networks, proprietary tools and specialism in certain sectors. Continuing staff churn, compounded by merger and acquisition activity, is, however, causing some dissatisfaction.
Notably there has been an increase this past year in the use of online panel companies (44%), and it should also be noted that DIY research is used by more than a third of research buyers. In a similar vein, while just 19% of respondents were aware of the recent launch of Google Consumer Surveys, 60% showed some interest in using this facility.
While there is a net increase in research budgets in 2012, this is much lower than research buyers had predicted they would have available to them. Furthermore, the net increase is mainly down to FMCG clients, with many other sectors reporting a net fall in budgets.
For more information on this survey, please visit the Asia Research website, http://asia-research.net/
The B2B Barometer – the bi-annual ‘state of the nation’ survey for B2B marketers – has just launched its sixth wave, reporting client-side marketers and agencies are feeling positive about business over the coming year.
Backed by three years of historical data on B2B marketing, the survey collates the views of client and agency side marketers, and gives a bird’s eye view on what’s important in the world of B2B.
Results of this wave were surprisingly positive given the tough economic climate. A massive 80% of respondents interviewed (client and agency side) expressed confidence in their organisations’ outlook for the next 12 months – the highest figure ever recorded in the Barometer.
This confidence is being driven by positive performance over the last year as well as signs of life for the next six months, with 61% of agencies reporting rising revenues and 63% seeing more new business enquiries during the past 12 months. 48% of client-side marketers expect their B2B marketing budgets to rise in the next 12 months – only serving to spur on this positive feeling within the industry.
To see the full report please go to http://www.b2bbarometer.co.uk/
With so many people interested in the state of the economy, Alaric Fairbanks this week takes a look at some of the more unusual indicators which may tell us whether prospects are looking up.
Even – perhaps especially – here in Beijing, as elsewhere, not a day goes by without mention of the economy and how quickly it will recover or not. Supplementary to this are the business confidence or climate surveys and their subsequent reports of optimism and pessimism.
These are all very well, and may be a good source of column inches or publicity for a research company. This is all OK with me but, even if reflective of whatever business community or industry sector’s level of confidence, it is perhaps worth thinking about which sources of information are behind, say, agreement with a statement expecting an increase in profit, revenue, headcount, etc.
From examples I have seen, including, I confess, a climate survey we conducted, there is little attention paid to the sources of information upon which these feelings are based. When it does appear, it is usually a choice of ‘respectable’ sources, such as newspapers, journals, or official statistics. Less expected or rational influences are often overlooked and, even if included in the question set, a respondent may not admit to having been influenced by an alternative or informal source.
Of course, it would be great for our business if businesspeople took tailored market research as their main source of guidance for decisions and even opinions, but as this is not always the case, I was curious as to what observations people were making to inform their levels of confidence.
To this end we spoke informally to contacts in the Western business community about any indicators used to reflect on their business prospects. A common theme emerged around indicators being derived from the physical environment, especially through observation. A simple example of an informal indicator was counting or estimating the number of new building sites passed on the way to work – the more new sites, the stronger the economic prospects.
These conversations suggested that observations were aimed at levels of activity. They tended be a mixture of fairly Beijing-specific and the more general. Observed indicators from work and life in Beijing with a perceived positive correlation included:
And with a perceived negative correlation:
Interestingly, although not all of these are anecdotally based, they all appear to have some underlying rationale. It would be interesting, at least to me, to look into how effective these indicators really are… but things are fairly hectic here at the moment, what with projects, proposals, etc – another way of showing how things are going right now!