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Market research in Belgium: the 10 best data sources

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Last week we delivered our Top 10 in France. This week, find the 10 data sources to consult for your market research in Belgium. These sources will be useful to you, whether you are a newcomer to the market, a young entrepreneur or you want to expand your field of activity.

A checklist is also provided at the end of this article.

Summary

Official national statistics

Statistics are essential to any good market research. National statistics have a certain weight in the constitution of your research and your files (financial, business plan, and so on) since they are official and therefore of reliable value. Each country has an official institute that offers the highest level of quality. In Belgium, the agency responsible for national statistics is Statbel, which compiles various demographic, economic, social, societal, and other data. In the “themes” tab, you will find many themes related to the Belgian economy.

How do you use this data for your market research?

  • Define a geographical location (catchment area) based on regional demographics and economy.
  • Understanding consumer purchasing behaviour
  • Defining competitors in the market
  • Understanding some key legislative restrictions

This data will be particularly useful if you need to carry out PESTEL research (to find out more about PESTEL, click here).

The Belgium.be website will be of particular use to you if you wish to set up a business in Belgium to collect additional information on the Belgian way of life. Many themes are covered on the website, such as health, mobility, housing, the economy, taxes, among others.

Companies financial data

To understand the profitability of a project and to ensure the validity of your competitive research, you will need to analyse the financial results of other companies. In Belgium, the CBE (The Crossroads Bank for Enterprises) collects data on companies. You will find the annual balance sheets of companies in open source on the website of the NBB (National Bank of Belgium) under the “consult” tab. To do so, you only need to enter the number of the company or its name and postal code.

NBB's information on belgian companies

Simulation of a balance sheet request on the NBB website.

The financial analysis of other companies will not only be useful to you to understand the situation of your competitors, but also to test the stability of your potential future partners and suppliers. This can be an excellent indicator to judge the health (and appeal) of a market.

Entrepreneurs and companies active in the B2B market will also be able to use these sites to define their targets and draw up a list of prospects.

Consumer protection

Test Achats is the Belgian reference in terms of product and service testing, comparisons and consumer advice. Whether online or to obtain the Test Purchase magazine, you will need to subscribe. What is certain is that many themes are covered: products and services with Test purchase, health aspects with Test Santé and advice and opportunities in terms of investments with Test Achats Invest.

This data will enable you to position yourself concerning your competitors and take into account the latest consumer trends. This will be necessary to confirm or deny the relevance of your future product or service.
Remember that the first idea is rarely the right one. Don’t be discouraged if you perceive a lack of alignment with market demand. Consider this as an opportunity to improve your primary idea.

Customs and border protection

If you wish to import into Belgium or export outside the Belgian borders, you must take into account the legal restrictions imposed by customs and border protection services. FPSF‘s government website is a mine of official information that will be very useful to you. You will find all the essential legislation and regulations on the import and export of products and services.

The customs sites are an excellent source of data for your PESTEL research, especially for the “L” (Legal aspects).

We have dedicated an article to market research applied to the export sector. You can access it here.

Sector data for your market research in Belgium

To carry out your market research as comprehensively as possible, you will also need to look at data relating to your (future) sector of activity. Below you will find an overview of the best sources of industry data.

Health

You will find a great deal of health-related data on the official website of the government FPS Health, which publishes dossiers on topics relating to public health but also the regulation of this industry in Belgium.
The data on the Belgium.be website in the “Health” tab will also be useful if you are active in the health sector. The site contains a lot of information about the Belgian health system and how it works.
The FAMHP (Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products) will provide you with additional information on these subjects, whether in general or veterinary medicine.

The food industry

The website of the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) is a crucial source of data for food industry players who wish to expand in Belgium. In its “Food” tab, the FASFC details the regulations to be followed in Belgium and the authorisations required for products, treatments and packaging.
Further details can be extracted from the page intended for professionals according to the segment of the industry to which you belong and the latest information. The search option will significantly simplify your search, given the high frequency of publication of the FASFC.
Every 10 years, the ISP WIV publishes the results of a survey on eating habits in Belgium (which you can find here).

Agriculture

In Belgium, it will be necessary to investigate several websites to understand the constraints linked to agriculture.
In Wallonia, go to the Walloon Agriculture portal, which will give you a wealth of information on legislation and a great deal of information related to agriculture in Wallonia (subsidies, agricultural policies, production and certification, and so on).
In Flanders, turn to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, which will also direct you to the agricultural policies in force, subsidiessector figures, and so forth).

Housing

In the “Housing” tab of the Belgium.be website, you will find data on the housing market in Belgium. Additional information is also available under the theme “Construction and Housing” on the Statbel website. Aim to cross-reference these data to ensure the reliability of your market research in Belgium.

Energy

The CREG’s website is a must-visit website for energy issues in Belgium. The CREG is the Commission for the Regulation of Electricity and Gas on the Belgian market. These dossiers cover the entire territory and a wide range of topics: from prices to the market situation, the distribution of market shares between the various energy suppliers, as well as the essential details during your research relating to productionsupplynetwork access, and so on.

Education

Once again, several sources will need to be consulted to give you an overview of education-related activities. Information related to the regions of Wallonia and Brussels-Capital is available on the enseignement.be website, which contains all the information related to the education system in place in these two regions. In Flanders, education-related data are available on the federal education website.

Innovation

For your market research in Belgium, you will have to visit several websites about innovation. Each region has its subsidies and regulations. Govbuysinnovation focuses on innovation in the civil service. Details about innovation in the Brussels-Capital Region are available on the be.brussels website, in Wallonia on the Research and Technology portal, in Flanders on the website of the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation.

Checklist

Topic Data source Added-value for your market research in Belgium
Nationals statistics

Statbel

Belgium.be

Official figures to contribute to your PESTEL study
Financial data

CBE

NBB

Competition research, profitability of the sector
Consumer protection

Test Achats

Test Santé

Test Achats Invest

Market analysis, sector analysis
Customs and border protection FPSF Legal aspects of the PESTEL analysis
Sector data – Health

SPF Health

Belgium.be onglet Health

FAMHP

Files on health issues and medicines
Sector data – The food industry

FASFC

Eating habits by the ISP WIV

Indicators on the food industry market and legal aspects
Sector data – Agriculture

Walloon Agriculture portal

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Agricultural legislation, agreements and policies
Sector data – Housing

Belgium.be – Housing

Statbel – Construction and Housing

Housing market and related issues
Sector data – Energy CREG Energy indicators and legislation
Sector data – Education

Enseignement.be in Wallonia and in Brussels-Capital

The federal education portal in Flanders

Type of education and regulations
Sector data – Innovation

Govbuysinnovation – Innovation in the Civil Service

be.brussels (Brussels-Capital)

Research and Technology portal (Wallonia)

Departement of Economy, Science and Innovation Framework and aid for innovation

Illustration : Shutterstock

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