Professional researchers in FMI's Research Services Group conduct rigorous quantitative and qualitative studies within the construction industry. Methods that are used in performing studies typically include:
Secondary research refers to the collection and analysis of information that is pre-existing in some form. This typically includes government reports, articles, news reports, white papers, press releases, company announcements, existing studies and newsletters. FMI's research consultants are knowledgeable of available construction resources and can quickly collect available information. Such information seldom answers project issues completely or with the necessary credibility. Secondary research can provide project context and a baseline of information to quickly move up the learning curve.
Surveys: Written surveys are often designed to develop quantitative information such as product-usage rates, market share, ranking of selection criteria or ratings of competitor performance. These tools can cost-effectively yield a substantial base of statistically significant information. Typically, they are used in conjunction with other research techniques that expand on underlying drivers behind the quantitative data.
Interviews: Interviews are used to drill into key perceptions and motivations that often lie well below the surface. FMI's research consultants are well-versed in both telephone and on-site interview techniques. Effective interviewing requires that the researcher gain access to the most appropriate thought leaders. While working with these key contacts, the researcher must be able to bring industry knowledge and context to the discussion, to spot unusual responses and to quickly develop follow-up questions. FMI research consultants bring better industry access and experience to bear during the interview process.
Focus Groups: The focus group environment supports examination of rich perceptual information in a group setting. FMI's methodology engages participants in written responses that are then discussed by the group. The dynamics of the group allow participants to "play" off each other's responses, reaching a deeper response level than they had as individuals. In addition, the professional focus group environment affords the opportunity for the client to discretely watch the information unfold and to interject new questions as they come up. Because of the group dynamics involved, successful focus groups demand highly experienced moderators.
FMI research consultants and economists team up to develop unique models of market behavior. Current forecasts of construction volume put in place are married with project-specific data to build these models. Market models may be constructed to describe historic and projected levels of activity by any number of metrics, including:
- Geography Type of work (e.g., tilt-up, low-rise, etc.)
- Customer type (e.g., size, location, area of specialization)
- Building product category
- Building product specification (e.g., size, material)
- Price points
- Procurement method
Market models take key pieces of research information and translate the information into fact-based estimates of market size and segmentations. The models provide key information to support due diligence, strategy development, market/business development and sales initiatives.
FMI normally combines different techniques in the research design. For example:
- Secondary research is used to develop baseline knowledge (market trends, drivers, regulatory issues, new technologies).
- Secondary research results support development of primary research questions.
- Electronic surveys are designed to develop quantitative market perceptions and benchmarks.
- Certain survey responses may be flagged (outlying, strategically important, raises new questions).
- Telephone interviews are conducted to drill deeper, validating and expanding on initial findings.
- On-site field interviews or focus groups are then conducted and dive deeply into underlying perceptions and motivations.
- Market models are developed to translate market findings into forecasts.
Information evolves over the course of study. Sometimes answering one question raises another. FMI research consultants remain in regular contact with our clients throughout the process and conduct debriefings between these steps. This allows collaborative review and gives us the opportunity to redirect resources to the most critical emerging issues.