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Market research in the UK: the 10 best data sources

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We continue our European tour of the best data sources. We stop today across the Channel to provide you with our Top 10 essential resources for your market research in the UK.

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

Summary

Official national statistics

First of all, you will need to find out about the area in which you wish to set up your business. The best way to do this is to consult the data on the website of the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Not only does this site offer analyses on a variety of topics (economy, business, labour market, population and community), but it also has a national reputation that will positively influence your funding applications, for example.

homepage of the office for national statistics

Many statistics and data analyses can be found on the website of the Government Statistical Service (GSS).

Comment utiliser ces données pour votre étude de marché ?

  • Définir une zone géographique d’implantation (zone de chalandise) basée sur la démographie et l’économie régionales
  • Comprendre les comportements d’achat des consommateurs
  • Définir les concurrents sur le marché
  • Comprendre certaines restrictions législatives clés

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

Companies financial data

The government’s Companies House site, supported by gov.uk, registers companies and a wealth of public information about them. The website includes legal information on companies, as well as their balance sheets and income statements in downloadable PDF format.

test research of company's financial data

We strongly recommend that you take the time to investigate the financial data of your competitors but also your future partners or suppliers. This will give you an idea of the stability and de facto appeal of the market in which you wish to position yourself.

If you work in B2B, feel free to do further research by entering the names of prospects. This will allow you to refine the definition of your target but above all, to understand the financial health of your target and its investment potential. In particular, you will be able to use this tool to adjust many points crucial to your success (prospect list, target(s), price, logistics, and so on).

Protection des consommateurs

There are two particularly interesting websites on consumer protection. The first is the government’s citizens advice website which, as its name suggests, aims to advise citizens and offers answers to many questions on topics such as work, housing, laws, health, and so forth, but above all on the subject of consumer affairs. In the “Consumer” tab, consumer rights are set out according to different situations (purchases, repairs, vehicles, purchases abroad, holidays, transport, insurance, telephone, and so on).

screenshot of the platform citizens advice

The second website to visit is Which? which acts as a tester of products and services. The website also offers files on specific markets and related news topics.

We advise you to combine these two sources of information to generate the most exhaustive possible overview of the market and consumer trends and questions. Try to understand which products and services similar to yours are appealing to consumers to understand the appeal and opportunities in this market.
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

When importing or exporting products and services from or to foreign countries, it is imperative to find out about customs laws and regulations. This applies to all markets and territories, especially the UK, which has left the European Union and whose last significant changes will be implemented in January 2021.

There are several websites to visit if you are interested in entering this market:

Customs websites 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 the UK

Consulting sources that are not specific to a particular sector is essential to understand how the market works and how it is structured. However, you will also need to immerse yourself in data specific to your demand for your market research to be valid. We list tangible sources in several sectors.

Health

As you might expect, a wide range of data is available on the gov.uk website in the section dedicated to the UK Medicines and Medical Devices Regulatory Agency (MHRA). More information can be found on the ONS website.
You will also need statistics concerning the health sector. You will find this information on the GSS website in their health statistics section and on the NHS website for data specific to England.

The food industry

All the essential data and statistics relating to the food industry are available on the website of the Food Standards Agency. On this website, you will find news from the sector, the rules to follow and legislation relating to safety and hygiene (two essential topics if you are active in the food industry) as well as help and advice for professionals. Don’t hesitate to go to this last tab to look for information and suggestions specific to your segment, for example.

List of themes addressed on the Food Standards Agency's webiste

Agriculture

Most of the information you will need for your market research in the UK if you are involved in the agricultural sector can be found on the government website in the “Food and farming” section. Some data will also be available in open source on the National Archives website.

Transport

Still on the gov.uk website, but in the Department for Transport section this time, you will find information for players in the various segments of this sector (land, sea and air transport). You will also find the sector’s news that is essential to your future positioning.

Housing

Data on the UK housing market can be found in the housing tab on the ONS website. You will find statistics as well as complete files on numerous topics covering the whole territory.

publications related to housing

Energy

Whether for consumers or professionals, questions relating to the energy sector in the United Kingdom can be answered on OFGEM‘s website. The topics covered on this website will enable those involved in the energy industry to grasp the intricacies of the energy industry in the United Kingdom, but also to understand their competitors and potential consumers. Indeed, the website provides essential information for all types of profiles, and it will undoubtedly be interesting to explore these different categories to create a global overview of the market.

themes: domestic consumers, business consumers and industry professionals

Detailed categories on the OFGEM website

Education

For education-related data, go to the government tab of the Department of Education here. There you will find statistics and publications on the education sector. A service has been launched in 2020: the EES (Explore Education Statistics) on which you can find data and statistics more quickly through the search tab.

Innovation

For innovative topics, the website to visit is, once again, gov.uk which dedicates a whole tab to Innovate UK, which is part of the UK’s Research and Innovation cluster. You will find information on available grants and funds as well as network simplifiers.

Checklist

Theme Source of information Interest for your market research in the UK
Nationals statistics

ONS

GSS

Official figures to contribute to your PESTEL study
Financial data Companies House Competition research, profitability of the sector
Consumer protection

citizens advice

Which?

Market analysis, sector analysis
Customs and border protection

GOV.UK

Legislation.gov.uk

Legal aspects of the PESTEL analysis
Sector data – Health

MHRA

ONS – Santé

GSS – Santé

NHS – Angleterre

Files on health issues and medicines
Sector data – The food industry Food.gov.uk Indicators on the food industry market and legal aspects
Sector data – Agriculture

gov.uk – food and farming

archives nationales

Agricultural legislation, agreements and policies
Sector data – Transport Département du transport Agreements and restrictions related to different means of transport
Sector data – Housing ONS – Logement Housing market and related issues
Sector data – Energy OFGEM Energy indicators and legislation
Sector data – Education

gov.uk – Education

EES

Statistics and data linked to education
Sector data – Innovation Innovate UK Aid for innovation

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