If you’re conducting market or industry research, odds are you’re focused on data — and for good reason. In the business world, data is more compelling and available than ever before, and it tells an objective story that helps firms make smart decisions. But even the best data insights don’t always provide a complete picture.
Expert calls are a primary source for the kind of firsthand, experiential knowledge that investors and company leaders want when making important business decisions. It supplements data-driven insights and provides qualitative context in a world of numbers. And while expert calls have typically lived in the financial and consulting worlds, more and more companies are taking advantage of this method in other industries.
In this article, we’ll cover 7 important ways expert calls can help you enhance your market and industry research.
- Neutrality of opinion is a primary benefit of expert calls that’s not as easily found when interviewing company employees or stakeholders.
- Expert calls provide important context that helps analysts focus their market and industry research in the right direction.
- Expert calls can provide deep insights into niche markets and highly regulated or technical sectors that generally can’t be found through traditional research methods.
- Even expert commentary that’s overly subjective can provide insightful knowledge and serve as a useful launching point for further research.
Reliable firsthand knowledge
Reliable firsthand information can be hard to come by when you’re performing market and industry research. Companies understandably put their best foot forward to the public, so while it’s easy to find company information online, that information is not always indicative of the entire story.
Even in scenarios where analysts take a deeper dive into a company, industry, or market, there is a likelihood that the information they receive has been crafted to paint a positive picture. There is considerable nuance to individual company cultures, industry competitive landscapes, and consumer behavior in any given market that isn’t always reflected in traditional research documents or interviews.
Expert calls explore these nuances while offering a significant advantage over other firsthand sources: neutrality.
Generally, experts are formerly involved with the specific companies being discussed on a call. Even in cases where experts are discussing an industry or market in which they still operate, they do it under the guidance of disclaimers that combat conflicts of interest. While experts will certainly give subjective opinions, they typically don’t do it with the underlying motivations that company employees and stakeholders often possess.
Important context and direction
Analysts are often tasked with researching new market opportunities and defining new industries in which their firm may invest. Expert calls provide important context that helps researchers understand where to begin and in which direction to take their research.
This is important because it saves time and makes for a more focused and efficient research process. Using insights gathered through expert calls, researchers can be sure they don’t spend significant time and resources exploring topics or trends that aren’t relevant to their needs. For instance, an fund or an FMCG group chain might be researching trends in the pet food industry when they’re looking to invest in the sector, but might not be interested in the day-to-day running of the business.
Supplement to quantitative research
Market and industry research is heavily data-driven, and quantitative research provides important objective insights into financials and other areas of company, industry, and market performance. But they also don’t account for the all-important nuance that we discussed earlier. Qualitative research goes a long way in explaining why the numbers say what they do and providing meaning behind them.
Expert calls (categorized below as in-depth interviews) are one of several qualitative methods researchers can utilize.
With expert calls specifically, researchers can present existing quantitative research and ask for the expert to commentate on it. These insights often tell an important story that exists behind the data that allows researchers to assess them more completely and with higher confidence. In the finance industry, for instance, analysts and fund managers can greatly improve their decision-making accuracy and speed if they have access to the right research and insider insights.
Deep-dive into niche spaces
There are just some things about companies, industries, and markets that you can’t know unless you spend significant time working within them. This is one of the ways expert calls can be most valuable. Expert call interviews can uncover insights and potential research areas that an analyst simply would not — could not — have known to explore or uncover.
Even in cases where the researcher knows the niche they want to explore — for example, when an investment firm aims to enter a high-potential niche market — there are aspects that experts are able to inform about in ways that wouldn’t be discovered via other research methods.
Expert calls are also extremely valuable in understanding highly regulated or technical industries and markets. These industries make up a huge chunk of the current investment landscape and, as such, demand for expert knowledge in these areas is high. The pandemic has accelerated this trend, motivating investors to find opportunities in healthcare, financial services, and tech to align their portfolios with what’s happening in the world.
Research by Crunchbase found that between 2020 and 2021, healthcare and financial services, arguably the two most highly regulated sectors of all, experienced the most growth in Series B funding in the United States.
It’s understandable that investors and firms entering these sectors may not have a complete understanding of all relevant factors at play for a particular company or industry. Expert insights can fill this critical gap, ensuring that investors can make informed decisions not hindered by a lack of technical expertise.
Commentary on larger trends
Research analysts are trained to recognize trends indicated by market and industry data. In the process of conducting research, however, they’re often tasked with explaining things like: What does this trend actually mean? What are the larger implications for companies in this market or industry? How should these trends be considered in relation to investment decisions?
Expert calls can answer these questions. While they do so subjectively, that subjectivity is supported by extensive experience and deep knowledge of the company, industry, or market at hand. As researchers conduct more expert interviews, they get better at recognizing when expert opinions are motivated by other factors and probing experts to better understand their reasoning. In the end, even commentary that’s deemed less than neutral can be insightful, giving analysts an additional perspective and often a launching point for conducting additional research.
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