Everybody's heard the phrase "think tank," but not everyone realizes what people do there. As the name indicates, people who work at think tanks sit around and think, mostly about topics that are relevant to their industrial or commercial clients. The main product a think tank, or research organization produces, are industry reports.
Industry reports may contain very detailed information about a given industry including the market and sales opportunities surrounding that industry and what the growth potential may be. It's standard procedure in business to research an industry thoroughly. Obviously, it would take a team of people quite a long time to prepare such research. These research organizations, and the reports they produce, provide a useful shortcut for these businesses.
A company considering expanding into a different area, for example, may rely heavily on industry reports to determine whether or not their plans are feasible. Since the information contained in these industry reports are often very specialized and thorough, they may be expensive, costing sometimes several thousands of dollars. Nonetheless, they present a significant value to the client, since it provides them with the valuable research information they need. Without the report, a company would have to put a great deal of resources towrards compiling the same information.
Research organizations employ analysts who prepare these reports for general consumption by their clients, although they may also create customized industry reports to service the needs of only one individual client. The press is another large user of industry reports; analysts who create industry reports are often quoted in related news articles.
In creating industry reports, analysts may rely on their own individual knowledge of a given industry, as well as surveys they conduct. Analysts may personally survey hundreds of managers in a particular industry in order to spot trends, and predict what the future of that industry may hold.