Category Archives : Case Studies

Case Study: International market entry analysis for top education content provider

Emerging Strategy works with a top education company serving more than 50 million students in more than 150 countries. Our client sees the On-Request market intelligence partnership as critical in informing its international strategy with fact-based, data-oriented insight on market opportunities. 

Client Situation:

Our client has historically taken an opportunistic approach towards non-U.S. markets. With the company’s Board and its CEO seeking international expansion, the International Markets team has elected to obtain market intelligence from its On-Request partnership with Emerging Strategy to vet and prioritize markets to focus its investments into areas of best fit and highest potential.

Although the company often gained an initial foothold in emerging markets by responding to strong demand for high quality content, it has become a top priority to continue growing its business in key non-U.S. markets. To confidently meet the expectations of its board and CEO, the International Markets team needed market intelligence to play a central role in long-term strategic decision-making, such as prioritizing the markets that the company chooses to play in, and the investments that it makes.

The Vice President for International Markets quickly realized that given his team’s limited internal capacity for conducting the international market intelligence required to drive revenue growth, a long-term engagement with an external partner such as Emerging Strategy could systematically and objectively analyze markets, and help achieve its global growth imperative.

Solution:

Emerging Strategy’s On-Request partnership is an ideal solution for the team because the continuous access to timely and well-structured top-down market intelligence enables it to identify promising markets, make flexible pivots in research scope on the fly, and get quality insight into any number of emerging markets, before committing more significant internal and external resources in vetting those markets and developing a comprehensive go-to-market strategy.

We initiated the partnership by jointly developing a list of research projects that would run for the first several months, focused on examining various market segments in countries of interest, with each project running a few weeks in length. The client’s management actively participates and provides feedback and direction. Emerging Strategy works directly with the Vice President for International Markets, who in turn shares our intelligence and his recommendations with his CEO, the global sales organization, and company personnel in global markets.

Results:

Market intelligence through our On-Request partnership is helping the team to create a long-term strategy for global expansion, and eventually it will be used to craft a “go-to-market” strategy for each market segment within each country, to meet the company’s financial objectives for its non-U.S. business.

Examples of projects:

  • Market landscape of specific market segments, filling gaps in existing intelligence
  • Estimation of the addressable market size of relevant markets segments
  • Competitor profiles and market share, through a rigorous modeling approach leveraging publicly available data
  • Analysis of the regulatory environment for specific product lines, including recent regulatory changes

This systematic process represents a shift in culture for the client’s International Markets team, but the team’s Vice President is happy about what the On-Request partnership has produced. During a recent conversation he told us, “Look, I have no difficulty giving hard news to consulting firms.  But you guys: the work you do, the scope of the work, timeliness, and the quality of delivery – I can’t say enough. If I had a colleague who asked for a firm, I would recommend you.”  


Case Study: Competitor analysis of a fast-growing adjacent segment of assessments in United States higher education

Client Situation:

While working with a longtime client in global education services, we were tasked with profiling top competitors in a fast-growing segment of assessments for higher education in the United States. Since the specific category of assessments fell outside of our client’s core business areas, little was known internally about this adjacent market segment other than a few competitor names and products. Obtaining more information for our client’s research team on key market participants, such as their product offerings, market presence and recent events, was the first step for it to begin evaluating any potential opportunities in this space.

Methodology:

We were provided with a short list of a few products of interest and some key questions to answer, such as detailing product feature sets, identifying market traction with available metrics, analyzing their respective marketing positioning and obtaining pricing or distribution information. The methodology we employed for these competitor analyses involved using a combination of targeted secondary research utilizing public sources such as marketing materials, press releases and news articles and also proprietary commercial research databases.

Taking the information available from competitor marketing materials painted a recognizable picture of each competitor assessment, but it was often necessary to fill in the intelligence gaps through primary research with competitor firms and their customer institutions. The findings presented in the final deliverables were informed by research from a variety of sources, all of which were taken into consideration during our analysis process, contributing to our conclusions on the key competitors and their products in this nascent higher education market space. Additionally, the appendices of each competitor profile provided a collection of important metrics and data as well as an organized list of sources for hassle-free sharing of the information throughout the organization.

Results:

In addressing our client’s key research objectives for different competitors using a standardized methodology, we were able to put  a quick means of comparison between a number of competitor products all in one place. This benchmarking exercise revealed information in important dimensions such as pricing and market traction. The final deliverables allowed the research team at our client organization to easily make sense of this nascent but growing market segment with minimal need for further research, editing or analysis, which allowed them evaluate potential opportunities with counterparts across the organization.

 

 

 


Case Study: Hiring Selection Trends and their Impact on Pre-hire Assessments

Client Situation:

Our client commissioned us to look into trends in hiring selection to determine their impact on the market for pre-hire tests. As a large education services firm with expertise in test administration for the higher education and K-12 segments, our client was considering expanding its offering in the pre-hire assessment space and needed to know more about which hiring methods were valued for which purposes by industry and by country. This project covered the hiring selection practices of multiple industries in the United States as well as general trends in a total of 10 additional foreign markets.

Methodology:

To address our client’s objectives, our team relied on interviewing HR professionals in target markets and industries to gauge their attitudes toward traditional methods of hiring selection. Because hiring selection practices vary significantly across job functions, meeting our project objectives required us to analyze the nuances of pre-hire assessment practices. We contacted a wide range of stakeholders and conducted in-depth interviews with them to cover all the bases — some sample research objectives include: what types of tests are valued by job function, by industry and where tests are deployed in the hiring process. Our team also reached out to vendors in this space to gain additional insight into market trends, specifically with regard to emerging technology standards in the industry.

In addition to pre-hire assessment trends, we also investigated other new technologies beginning to appear in the pre-hire selection market to determine their likelihood and nature of their impact to our client’s interests. We identified a list of six potentially impactful technologies including but not limited to: video interviewing, social media scraping, digital simulations and predictive analytics. To analyze the potential for these nascent hiring selection methods to make waves in the market, we employed a combination of secondary desktop research and primary research with vendors and other experts.

Results:

This project provided insight into the pre-hire test market by delving into customer attitudes and HR practices across multiple key industries and markets. In leveraging the insight of a wide range of experts and stakeholders our team developed evidence-based, actionable conclusions and recommendations for our clients to utilize in their internal strategy discussions regarding business interests in the pre-hire assessment market.


Case Study: Market Trends in Online Formative Assessment Platforms and Assessment Analytics Platforms in the U.S. K-12 Market

Client Situation:

Our client was a formative assessment analytics platform vendor for K-12 in the United States. Facing declining market share in recent years in key markets to due the surprising gains of some successful new entrants, they decided to initiate a product revamp. To better inform product development, they needed in-depth, timely market intelligence on what their competitors currently offered and what customers and users saw as the top strengths and weaknesses they could address in upcoming product development efforts preceding the platform re-launch.

Methodology:

In order to make sure their next generation assessment analytics platform met and exceeded expectations, they engaged us to provide detailed analysis on what specific feature sets and services would prove compelling in a future product rollout. We proposed researching specific feature sets found in leading competitor products and categorizing them into common parameters such as supported data sources, software integrations, reporting features etc. to allow for cross comparison. Once we laid out the research objectives, we conducted extensive secondary research to build out the framework with detailed analysis of feature specifications. We consulted available resources including user guides, product reviews as well as primary research with vendors, former employees and thought leaders with extensive product knowledge.

In addition to present generation feature specifications, we also investigated which feature areas needed the most improvement to provide suggestions for product development efforts. In other words, we endeavored to find out where the market leaders were currently falling short with the objective of providing recommendations on how our client could address these shortcomings with a future rollout. To accomplish this, we interviewed end users of the target products in each of the key markets to further inform our analysis.

Result:

Analyzing the present generation of product feature sets among leading platforms along with pain points and gaps identified by users themselves allowed us to provide an insightful view into opportunities on the table for our client to consider in product development efforts. Both the strengths and weaknesses presented opportunities for our client to either emulate successful features or develop new ones to address critical gaps according to customers, leading to a better informed product development process.


Case Study: Niche B2B Manufacturing Market Landscape of China

Client Situation:

Our client was a global manufacturer of flexible packaging used by leading food, consumer products, medical, pharmaceutical, and other companies worldwide. In 2013, they entered the Chinese market by acquiring a local specialty film manufacturer and were looking to increase their market share in protective films in the APAC region. The company sought to inform their internal strategy with analysis of the external commercial environment – the market landscape, competitors, customers and suppliers.

Methodology:

We proposed analyzing the competitiveness of various protective film markets through the lens of Porter’s 5 forces analysis framework. We also agreed that deep dive profiles into key competitors, customers and suppliers that were of interest to the client would also be beneficial. We conducted a funnel type market landscape analysis to evaluate the upstream product demand directly impacting the nature and scope of demand for downstream components such as protective film.

Emerging Strategy utilized primary research to gather information and compiled data to fill in the gaps in available secondary sources. Our target primary sources for this study composed industry experts and regional chambers of commerce where the local specific industry hubs were located. These sources provided us the hard to find data we required to complete this project.

We provided information about size, drivers and expected growth of upstream and downstream markets by product application, material structure and complementary profit driving markets. We also provided an enhanced understanding of the competitive landscape in China and all the value chain players, together with identified unmet customer needs and opportunities.

Result:

The insights generated by Emerging Strategy provided a clear picture of the protective films market in China, giving our client the market intelligence they needed to help develop a growth strategy for the region. These insights facilitated a leaner utilization of resources and targeting of emerging opportunities for scaling up. Our project also provided insight on how aggressively they should pursue expansion in this market and the required capital expenditure to support their growth strategy.


Case Study: HR and SG&A Benchmarking of Leading APAC Electronics Distributors

Client Situation:

Emerging Strategy was approached by one of the world’s largest electronics components distributors to conduct a detailed benchmarking study targeting organizational structure, cost and operations across APAC. Our client had a track record of successful M&A over the previous 5 years and believed that their organizational and cost structures could be improved by leveraging synergies from the assets acquired in these transactions. To inform this course of action, they sought to better understand organizational structures in their industry, design best practices as well as adopt the leading cost structures used by their main competitors in APAC.

Methodology:

Emerging Strategy leveraged its established geographic presence in APAC countries to conduct extensive primary research interviews as well as secondary research in local languages over the course of several months. For this study, we agreed to benchmark three competitor companies and one non-competitor company. For each company, our team mapped out detailed organizational, operational and cost structures. We analyzed the APAC regional operations within each of the targeted companies with the aim to determine the Asian-based cost structure and headcount of the targets, including an understanding for key cost drivers.

Result:

Our research yielded a comprehensive breakdown of the following:
• Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses by headcount (including by location, function and discipline),
• Facilities (both fixed and variable costs associated with warehouses, offices etc.)
• Organizational structure and philosophy. This was done in detail across organizations in China, India, Taiwan, Hong-Kong, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand and Australia.

Our client’s board of directors used the information provided from this study to inform the business process optimization strategy for their global operations.


Case Study: Global Trends in Education Technology and their Impact on Test Administration across Education Segments

Client Situation:

On behalf of a client in education services, Emerging Strategy conducted an analysis on the short and long term impact of technology trends on test administration. Our client needed to anticipate the potential for disruption to its business posed by emerging technology trends such as adaptive technology, data analytics, remote proctoring and gaming. Additionally, the proliferation of mobile devices in education and learners bringing their own devices to use in class or the workplace was also researched. Our client has a wide range of interests in education services across major market segments including K-12, higher education, English language learning and workforce training. To kick off the project, Emerging Strategy’s consulting team worked with our clients to craft a project scope that included specific areas of inquiry in select markets around the world.

Methodology:

To gain the deep level of insight required for our client to understand these trends, we conducted primary research with experts in these fields as well as knowledgeable stakeholders also managing the effects of these trends in competitor firms and customer institutions. To support this effort, Emerging Strategy’s team also reached out its education expert panel members.

Our research methodology comprised two central missions. We provided a broad-based understanding of these trends and their level of impact on test administration by collecting and analyzing information available from secondary research sources. To tackle the toughest questions left unanswered after extensive secondary research into the technology trends, we leveraged the expertise of experts, thought leaders and other relevant stakeholders through primary research. Over the three-month duration of this project over a hundred industry experts were interviewed. Utilizing this combination allowed us to provide a big picture analysis with targeted focus on questions most critical to our client’s business interests.

Result:

Each emerging technology included in our study has the potential to impact these business interests in myriad ways and timely, insightful market intelligence can provide a big value add to the business units at our client organization who need to stay ahead of competitors in the rapidly evolving education services market. We provided our client’s team with research-backed insight and analysis in a crisp, concise deliverable format easily shared with internal customers. The project delivered answers to the key intelligence questions our client needed answers to regarding the current and future impact technology would have on test administration.


Case Study: Graduate Student Enrollment Trends and Issues for U.S. Market

Brief:

Our client wanted to identify market trends and issues that have affected or that may in the future affect enrollment for graduate-level studies in the United States.

Emerging Strategy’s Solution:

Emerging Strategy researched the top three markets or origin for graduate studies of the US: US, China and India. Secondary sources were exhausted and complemented by a series of primary interviews in the three geographies. Market leading test prep providers and study abroad agencies were consulted in order to identify topics that have and may lead prospective graduate students to defer studies or target a destination other than the United States. Language and entrance/ admissions exams and prep courses volumes were used as indicator of intention and potential convergence to graduate level study. Historic trends and future expectations based on findings were essential to client needs.

Result:

Outputs enabled client to program expected demand for the coming 3 years and key trends that may influence the target market.


Case Study: e-Learning Tools and Market Analysis

Brief:

Our client was evaluating business development opportunities within Mainland China’s e-Learning market, and needed to understand the landscape, players and product offerings available.

Emerging Strategy’s Solution:

Emerging Strategy’s consultants drew on a mix of domestic and international sources, beginning with secondary research to find e-Learning products and services in mainland markets using industry reports, trade publications and general media. Afterwards, extensive primary research and site visits were conducted to triangulate, validate and further elaborate on findings. Research also characterized the different user and buyer segments, making the identification of coverage gaps possible. Industry specialists, educational institution directors, and MoE officials were amongst the primary contacts consulted.

Result:

Valuable insights into the e-Learning tools available to the Chinese market, both current and forecast, helped our client plan their BD/partnership strategy, target profile and product mix.


Case Study: The Impact of Macro Trends and Innovations on the Education Sector

Brief:

In order to improve their strategic planning process, our client sought actionable intelligence on near-term (3-5 years) and long-term (10 years) macro trends and disruptors in the education and training sector in a number of countries.

Emerging Strategy’s Solution:

We created an analytic framework including a PEST analysis, opportunities and threats presented by each trend, and the potential level of impact and certainty for each. For the PEST analysis, we conducted detailed secondary research complemented by interviews with members of an expert panel assembled for this project, to elicit hypotheses on political, economic, social and technological trends. We tested these hypotheses using additional primary and secondary research. We created a ‘disruption factor matrix’ to segment those trends that had the greatest level of certainty as well as the highest potential for impacting our client’s business. We also deeply analyzed each resultant opportunity and threat facing the client.

Result:

Our study enabled the client to gain an understanding of future trends and outlooks in the target market and to tailor their products to the anticipated changes in the education and workplace sectors.