Expand Your Reach with a Freelance Market Research Analyst

April 20, 2018 Emily Slayton

freelance market research analyst

As companies grow, they often reach a point where sales begin to plateau. They’ve captured all the interest they can with current offerings, with widespread adoption of core products and services. To achieve additional growth, they’ll need to look beyond current markets and expand into adjacent ones.

However, adjacent markets—whether geographic, demographic, or product-related—are by definition outside the company’s domain of expertise. And coupled with this challenge is the pressure to move fast. But entering a new market blindly can be disastrous. Of the fastest-growing companies from a group of 2,250 studied by Bain & Company, 72% pursued market adjacencies—but only one in four adjacency moves were successful.

In order to quickly and carefully assess how new opportunities will fit into the company’s broader portfolio and growth strategies, more and more executives are turning to freelance market landscape analysts. In fact, market landscape assessments were the most common project type (22%) that Business Talent Group clients requested help with in 2017.

Freelance market analysis consultants offer market-specific expertise without the hassle and expense of big consulting firms by providing:

  • Targeted, practical market advice
  • A cost-effective external perspective
  • In-depth evaluations of market attractiveness, competitive dynamics, and major trends

But while an increasing number of businesses are picking up the freelance model due to the many competitive benefits it offers, some still worry about bringing in an outsider to help with critical strategic initiatives such as market expansion. What they don’t realize is that targeted, strategic initiatives are exactly where freelancers excel—and where they deliver the best value to F1000 strategy executives and business unit leaders.

Dispelling myths about freelance consultants

Studies have shown that high-growth companies are the ones that focus on putting the right talent in place at the right time. Yet despite the maturation of the so-called gig economy, some companies are still hesitant to bring in freelancers to fill strategic roles. When it comes to freelance market analysis consultants, this is usually due to the persistence of one or more myths:

  • Myth #1: The consultant will impose a new methodology

    Every company has its own methodology for revenue growth. Once successful, few are eager to change things up. Independent consultants understand that, and most are comfortable working with in their client’s framework. If adjustments are necessary, they can often develop a substructure that is customized to the project without disrupting the business’ larger methodology.

  • Myth #2: The consultant won’t have access to adequate data

    Companies are sometimes concerned that independent consultants won’t have ready access to the right data, resulting in an incomplete—or worse, incorrect—market landscape assessment. The reality is that many freelance market researchers have partnerships with research firms that provide this critical information, and they can combine that with client data sources to perform a thorough analysis.

  • Myth #3: A permanent hire would be more cost-effective

    Though permanent hires are appropriate in many cases, the agility and targeted expertise offered by bringing in an outside consultant is particularly advantageous when it comes to market expansion. After all, it can take months to find and onboard a permanent hire, and in the meantime, markets are evolving and windows of opportunity are closing. Plus, if the candidate doesn’t work out, the cost amounts to much more than just their salary—particularly at the executive level.

On-demand access to market landscape analysts makes it easy to get the insights and strategy you need to keep growing. You can cherry-pick the talent you need and integrate them quickly and efficiently into your workflow. Low overhead is another perk, but the real benefit is the agility that freelance talent offers.

It’s likely why, according to Randstadt Sourceright’s Q4 2017 Talent Trends report, 61% of employers plan to replace up to 30% of their permanent positions with freelancers, gig workers, and independent consultants.

The added benefit of an outside perspective

In the rush to reach new markets, companies tend to believe that the next move needs to be a big one. Something transformative. Something bold. After all, those are the stories we love to hear about, aren’t they? Who wouldn’t want to launch the next Amazon Echo or Apple iPhone?

It’s exciting to consider the possibilities, but it’s also important to be wary of falling in love with the excitement and forgetting about the reality. For the vast majority of companies that succeed in market expansion, the next move isn’t all that drastic. It’s more of a shift—a move toward a nearby market that’s not far-removed from the company’s core business.

Extensive research has shown that the further away a company moves from its core competency, the less likely the odds of success. Once the excitement of a bold idea takes hold, however, it can be tough to steer stakeholders back toward reality. That’s when the outside perspective of a market research consultant can be particularly effective.

By methodically exploring and assessing the potential offered by all adjacencies, a consultant can help identify the most promising opportunities, not just the most popular. Most freelance consultants also have executive experience in your target market, giving them an even deeper—and more practical—understanding of the move you’re considering. And success is always exciting, regardless of whether it’s the result of a move that’s big and bold or modest and meaningful.

Achieving real growth with freelance market landscape consulting

Business Talent Group’s freelance market landscape analysts possess both consulting expertise as well as real-world experience as executives, which allows them to quickly identify and assess potential markets, then strategize and plan the path forward.

Here are three real-world examples of how our freelance market research consultants have helped companies uncover new opportunities, and how they can help you, too:

  1. Sizing a new category

    A multinational beverage company was eyeing a new category with a lot of buzz, but little clarity about global trends—or what success would look like. BTG’s experienced food and beverage
    strategist aggregated internal and external data to size the current market and formulate growth projections in each of the company’s core markets.

    Value: BTG’s consultants concluded that the company had a right to play in the space and helped the client make a build-or-buy assessment.

  2. Entering an adjacent space

    A financial services company needed to evaluate the feasibility of entering an adjacent space. Where were their strengths, and how could they be competitive across different geographies? BTG deployed an ex-McKinsey Engagement Manager, who had also served as VP of Strategy for a F500 financial services firm, to deliver insights on the company’s top two geographies.

    The consultant summarized key market sectors, assessed the competitive and regulatory landscape, and profiled major customer segments. He then built a model to estimate the overall
    size per market for a new entrant to the sector.

    Value: The analysis revealed attractive margins in the new space, prompting the client to build a strategic plan for capturing the opportunity’s full value.

  3. Understanding new buyers

    After launching a new patient-recovery product, a medical device manufacturer wanted to know if it could accelerate sales by working with healthcare payers and IDNs, rather than physicians. BTG assembled a team of two healthcare experts—including the former leader of McKinsey’s life sciences practice and a health economist with a strong network in the payer space.

    The BTG team interviewed payer representatives, refined value propositions, and provided a topline estimate of the opporunity’s magnitude.

    Value: After analyzing market attractiveness and reimbursement options, the consultants concluded that profit margins were too slim to proceed.

When you bring in on-demand talent to identify new markets and accelerate growth, you improve agility through greater flexibility and targeted expertise. You can also make smarter decisions by exploring opportunities before completely committing to them.

Need help identifying the best freelance market research analysts for your project? Business Talent Group can help.

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About the Author

Emily Slayton

Emily is an award-winning writer who specializes in B2B marketing. She has been helping global brands reach targeted audiences to drive sales and awareness for more than 15 years. As a small business owner herself (skeletonkeybrewery.com), she understands what it's like to source a team that can scale with sudden growth.

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