SLA Europe Webinar – Covid 19 and its impact on business research requirements and forecasts

On 3rd June, Ben Longman of Trendtype presented the third in our series of webinars connected to the impact of the pandemic.

Ben talked about what the rapidly-evolving Covid-19 situation has meant both for forecasts and examined the type of information that is now critical for both suppliers and researchers. A number of questions were posed by the audience and we are pleased to publish these questions below together with Ben’s answers, plus a recording of the webinar.

About our speaker

Ben is the managing director and founder of Trendtype, a specialist research provider focused on retail and distribution in Africa. He can be contacted at and on LinkedIn.

This webinar is in a series of online events hosted and organised by SLA Europe in response to the pandemic ensuring our members can continue to benefit from professional development and networking. You can find further resources and information in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Hub.

Q&A with Ben Longman

Q1: How do you verify data with this speed?

A: Great question. You have to go back to methodology and denitions and see if you’re happy with that. One of the challenges with emerging data, especially where it’s providing a comparison is whether it really is comparable to other countries/sectors or similar data. The more data we get, the more we can see patterns emerging and also check whether something is directionally correct, even if it may only be draft data.

Q2: Alternative data, exhaust data, etc; will it gain importance again?

A: Totally – I see more businesses emerging who are built around processing existing data and adding value to it. Many of the larger information providers aren’t in that mindset yet.

Q3: Research firms. How do we get them to listen and collaborate?

A: Ultimately, they should want you to be happy, especially now. In terms of listening, tell them you want a conversation. For collaboration, it really helps for you to know what you want from them – the more clearly you can communicate that and help them see how it aligns with their business objectives, the more likely they’ll do it. Any decent research director should be asking themselves what the client’s expectations are and how can they meet them (even if it’s meeting a minimum viable requirement).

Q4: Does anyone do due diligence on their provider before renewing? in current circumstances, how do you know that they will be around in three months’ time and not entered insolvency with your money?

A: That is an issue, of course, although it is also possible that companies in distress are acquired and the acquiring company will then honour the subscription. Broadly speaking, the best indicator is renewal rate because it is weaker companies (not providing must-have content) and those reliant on new business that will suffer most. As such, talk to your peers and your network about what they’re going to renew. If you hear serious doubt about a provider that is your indication that they will be suffering.

I think the main issue is that some companies overpromise/scale back on what they deliver. Ultimately, their main cost is people.

Q5: In this period of perpetual uncertainty and ambiguity, how have the questions you’ve had from clients changed given how hard it is to ‘nowcast’?

A: Our experience is that they’ve been very hungry for any information and they’re aggregating it their side. From February onwards, the messaging was that budgets had been torn up and in some cases the whole 2020 strategic planning torn up. I would summarise the questions in that period as “How should we think about the scope, scale, severity and longevity of this crisis?” . Now, the thinking is shifting more to “How can we be smart and dig ourselves out of the hole a little?”

Q6: I saw Ben put out an interesting research note on covid in Africa. If he has any time, would love to hear more.

A: Hi there – yes, it’s available here:

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