Getting Value from Construction Market Research

Every organisation spends significant amounts on its recent history – measuring what’s happened with its finances. But too few invest in research to tell them what their markets and customers are doing and the opportunities or threats these represent. Here is an explanation of the various levels of research that are available to you.

Construction market research is a really important tool for planning business and marketing strategy, but all too often it is neglected. The value of market research is in allowing evidence-based decision making. This is so important when planning a communications campaign, selecting the right markets and customers to focus on, or developing new products. With well researched evidence to support you it is easier to justify investment decisions to the executive team or board.

There is a lot of free information available on construction market activity. Issued by the ONS, Bank of England and bodies like NHBC it provides regular updates on construction activity, although it does tend to take two or three months to get published. This is supplemented by press releases by bodies like the Construction Products Association who give a taster of their latest reports. In addition there are periodic reports published by organisations like NBS, but government consultations and white papers are also very useful sources of information. To make it easy for you to find this information we try to bring it together in our monthly Market Activity report.

Then there are the industry publications like Building and Construction News. A modest subscription gets you access to the various reviews into sectors and industry initiatives. A subscription also allows you to access their database of articles, a valuable source of intelligence.

For a higher, but still modest investment, there are a range of market reports published by organisations like Competitive Advantage. In some cases these pull together information that is in the public domain. While this may be directly accessible to you, purchasing a report like a persona can save you many hours of desk research. Other reports are backed by dedicated research, such as the Construction Media Index, which analyses the communication channels used by the principal construction decision makers. All of these publications are priced at or below £1000, far less than the cost of bespoke research.

But it may be that you need very specific information, perhaps relating to who specifies your products, the factors that influence product selection or awareness and attitudes to your brand and those of your competitors. Then bespoke construction research is necessary. The cost of such research can be between £8,000 and £25,000 (sometimes less or considerably more), depending on a variety of factors, which is why a tailored proposal is necessary. A key influencer of cost is the method of gathering feedback.

Online surveys have the lowest cost but are less focused in their approach, with low response levels and limited control over the profile (e.g. age, location, role) of respondents. Face to face interviews and focus groups provide high levels of quality information but are also very expensive. We find telephone interviews a good mid-point, with cost determined by the number of interviews, the size of the sample, the role of the respondent and the complexity of the interview. If you have a requirement we will be happy to develop a proposal for you, just provide the details in our web form or email us at

Another option is the omnibus survey. This conducts telephone interviews with a defined quota of respondents, but rather than being conducted on behalf of just one client, allows the purchase of one or more questions by several clients. Respondents are asked the full set of questions and each client receives the answers to just their questions which remain confidential to them. This is ideal if you only want to ask one or two questions, perhaps the influence of sustainability in selecting your type of product. The cost of a single omnibus question is under £1,000 making it very affordable and a cost effective way to allow evidence-based decision making. Competitive Advantage conduct an annual Architects Omnibus, but we are happy to receive your suggestions for other respondent categories to research.

Research should be an important part of your business and marketing strategy. There are a range of options to keep you informed, from free information through to in-depth research. Competitive Advantage help you with all of these.