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Becoming a research partner: Niching down unlocks new opportunities


There are more ways than one when it comes to niching down your insight firm. While the prospect of saying no might scare some insight professionals, it is the right way to go as we’ll explain in this blog. It’s the fourth in a series of 5 about new opportunities for insight firms.

Opportunity 4: Niching down unlocks new opportunities

Why aren’t more firms doing this?

To be clear, there are plenty of insight firms that cater to specific companies, industries or types of research. Yet, a lot aren’t. They’re saying yes a lot against various organizations in different industries. And while it brings in a lot of volume, it may not bring in the juicy contracts or real challenging projects they’re secretly longing for all this time. Because how are you standing out versus the rest of the general insight firms? You don’t, don’t you? And just like that, you’re left competing on price instead of expertise.

The hesitance may come from a healthy dose of skepticism. If you start saying no and the horse you’re betting on doesn’t seem to be a winner – what then? You’ll lose both ways. Aha, but if you’re in market research, you should know how to dig up the right niche to bet on, don’t you?

Another worry might be that you don’t really have the expertise to claim a specific vertical like manufacturing companies in Idaho. But then you might have the expertise to go horizontal by being an expert in qualitative research or, even more specifically, in-depth reviews.

How can we use this opportunity to our benefit?

Simple, by doing your research (if you haven’t done so already). Start with determining if you should niche horizontally or vertically. Look at the clients you serve, the expertise of your team and expected developments in a specific industry or research field.

Are manufacturing companies in Idaho increasingly using 3D printing to create parts themselves instead of weathering the ups and downs of the global supply chain in the last few years?

That would significantly impact them and those in the surrounding states. So you could track how this affects their growth and use these base figures to become nationwide experts on this development within this industry.

Or can you come up with a way to increase the quality of in-depth reviews and make processing them faster at the same time?

As a result, insight firms play an essential role in helping clients make informed decisions about their businesses.

Let’s get practical

We’ll take a hypothetical example called CLEAN-E to make this more relatable. It’s a VC-funded startup with ambitious goals, money to burn and results to be had yesterday.

The scenarios you researched and presented in the previous example made the other side with the research track. You saved the day for the new team.

But how could you do this? Well, you niched down in the clean energy industry and are looking inside many similar VC-funded startups with various success rates. You have the data on what generally works in this industry and what doesn’t.

And since you publish about this too, others see you as a go-to expert in the clean energy startup scene. This helped you get the know a few influential VC firms who, in turn, bring you onboard in new clean energy initiatives and companies.

Keeping up with the Joneses

Let’s take a few steps back and explore why this is important.

It’s no secret that the market is changing – it always is – but the rate at which new trends and technologies are replacing old ones doesn’t only seem to become faster. It actually is getting faster. And it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Take the tools in the research space, for example. Insight firms can choose between an ever-expanding set of too many tools and platforms to mention in various forms and guises. Whether you’re looking for tools to help you do qualitative or quantitative research, there’s always one seemingly better suited for your particular needs.

The trouble is which one do you choose? Because they all have their pros and cons and some come with caveats that aren’t immediately clear when you purchase them.

Digging through the feature lists, comparing and validating them via reviews has become an industry in itself over the years, with the likes of G2, Capterra and Gartner dominating the space. But even then, it still is hard to pick one. And once you think you’ve found the one, up pops another where the proverbial grass is even greener.

And it’s not just about keeping up with the tools. Insight professionals themselves have to keep up with new research tactics and methods. Not to mention coping with the sheer volume of data to be processed.

Because there’s more data around than ever before and with every passing nanosecond, we’re adding even more. And the kicker is, according to Statista a whopping 37% of the world’s population isn’t even online yet as of April 2022. So there’s still a lot more data to come.

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