Using Forecasts to Inform your Specification Strategy – an Interview with Martin Hewes

The construction industry has complex interrelationships between buyers and decision makers which are becoming increasingly complicated, as the market faces new demands and pressures presented by the Modernise or Die report, Hackitt Review and the Carillion Collapse, with Brexit also playing its part.

Monitoring changes and understanding industry forecasts can help inform your strategy, making sure you are well placed to make the most of new opportunities and respond to threats. Competitive Advantage are pleased to have partnered with Hewes and Associates, to provide our customers with a comprehensive forecast and market analysis service.

We asked Martin Hewes, founder of Hewes and Associates for his advice on how best to use forecasts to inform strategy.

Q: Why is forecasting important?

A: Because the only constant in life is change.

While change is certain, the form of change isn’t.

We need forecasts to enable a more informed view of the future, and also perhaps to challenge our current view.

Q: What information do you use to decide how the market is going to change?

A: Aside from monitoring the usual sets of data, I find the FT an invaluable source of information and insight.

Avoid paralysis by analysis, we have more information than ever, yet our capacity to absorb that has barely increased. One FT issue contains more information than the average 18th century person would have absorbed in a lifetime. Look for the overall trend and do not get too absorbed in the detail.

Finally, beware the consensus view – it is usually wrong!

Q: When is the best time to monitor market forecasts?

A: Regularly, but not constantly.

Q: How can companies use forecasting to add value to their business?

A: Users may well be able to answer this better than I ! Firstly by viewing a forecast and asking – how does this forecast compare with a) the consensus, and b) our in-house outlook. Secondly, by applying the forecasts to market sectors of significance.

Q: How can forecasting help in understanding the specification of construction products?

A: By identifying the sectors which are changing – up or down – and hence anticipating how this will impact on the demand for your individual products.

Q: How can product manufacturers use market analysis to inform strategy?

A: In simple terms market analysis helps gain insight into which markets offer the most promising prospects, and which do not. On that basis resources can be committed to, or extracted from, various markets. Analysis should help us move correctly, and before the crowd – once something is common knowledge, it is usually too late.

In conclusion:

Forecasts we can help you to reduce uncertainty and benchmark your performance against the sectors you operate in. As construction activity increases, you might see a 3 per cent increase in your business. Is this good or bad? If the market has grown by just 2 per cent it is very good. But if the market has increased by 5 per cent then you are losing share and missing opportunities. Suddenly that 3 per cent increase does not look so good.


Further reading:

Further information:

Competitive Advantage, together with Hewes & Associates can provide a construction market forecast tailored to the opportunities in your sectors. This exercise is relatively low-cost and can help you anticipate any potential threats and indeed be well placed for new business opportunities.

Contact us to find out more

Purchase the latest Hewes & Associates Construction Forecasts here

Construction Outlook from Hewes & Associates provides three years of forecast data for Housing, Infrastructure, Public non-Housing, Industrial, Commercial, Repair & Maintenance


Construction Outlook Annual Subscription

Purchase an annual subscription for Construction Outlook forecasts from Hewes & Associates at £875 + VAT (PDF). This includes four issues: January, April, July and October. For further information please email