Caveat Emptor, Buying Research in the Era of Just In Time Publishing

Date Published: August 29, 2023

The practice of “Just In Time” report publishing has emerged in the market research reports business over the past few years. The providers will advertise reports with titles loaded with keywords for SEO purposes and descriptions created via AI tools.  The problem is that the reports do not actually exist.

For market research buyers the product they may order is rapidly assembled from previously issued reports and updated with content sourced via web scrapers and bots. It would be one thing if providers had significant amounts of quality content and forecasting that could be drawn from to issue a customized inquiry. It is quite another when the provider’s content is of lower quality and lesser value.  The key thing to consider is the provider.  A large-scale firm with significant market presence, prestige and a track record can provide much greater value and less risk than the research factories operating offshore.

So how can you tell if the product is real or waiting to be assembled? 

A sample should be readily available, with content more substantive than boilerplate, no blanked-out pages and something that shows what might be available.  If the provider cannot show an actual sample, it likely means the report needs to be assembled.

If there are several reports available within their coverage sector(s) (often long tail) with several keywords and phrases in the titles, the provider is likely engaging in factory practices.

Tables of contents and descriptions look similar, with minor variations within sections.

The provider claims to have several hundred reports available that are all “recently updated”  Impossible given the economics and market conditions.  Sectors like PC, semiconductor or consumer electronics can be updated quarterly but that product is more obvious to the buyer.

The offer of X% customized for prospective buyers?  Factory assembly job

No name analysts listed on the reports or on the site.

If there are analysts associated with the product, how many have they produced within a certain time?  Analysts can reasonably issue 700 pages of content per year in addition to the normal research functions they engage in.  A high number of reports with 150 pages is a red flag.

Buyer Advice

While this is not an exhaustive list, it should present buyers with some things to consider.  Corporate buyers in charge of sourcing data and content owe their internal stakeholders the best decision support materials available.  Individual buyers may not be aware of what the industry practices are and should take note of the items listed above.

Stakeholders should insist on a bio of the analyst(s), talk to them for 15 minutes, ask some hard questions on availability of the product, ask them to explain how they can produce what they claim to have available in such timeframes.  Talk to the analyst to see if they have any expertise in the space as well.  Market research is fine but if they aren’t subject experts, why bother?

Market reports used to be a great way for companies to access forecasts, competitive intelligence, market feedback and analyst takes.  As market research factories have grown in scale and market presence, the value of reports has declined due to the practices employed within these shops.  Buyers are left to sift through piles of poor-quality products and do not necessarily understand the hidden risks.


A little awareness is a good thing….