In her 20 years with The Freedonia Group, Jennifer Mapes Christ has authored 80 industry studies and supervised the production of many more, covering such topics as lawn and garden products, outdoor living, home goods, textiles, security, packaging, and food. She currently leads a group of analysts that produce studies on the consumer and commercial goods markets, in addition to co-managing The Freedonia Group’s packaging studies and Packaged Facts’ food studies. She holds a B.A. in Economics and East Asian Studies from Vanderbilt University, as well as a J.D. from Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
In the past few months, Jennifer has been cited in The Wall Street Journal and featured on Cheddar, sharing her expertise on trends in consumer sales. In 2015, she served as a speaker at Security Industry Association’s Securing New Ground conference.
Jennifer has overseen the production of such recent publications as Lawn & Garden Robots, Home Organization Products, Global Power Tools, Global Nonwovens, Global Medical Disposable Products, Coated Fabrics, Corrugated & Paperboard Boxes, Retail-Ready Packaging, Rigid Bulk Packaging, and Meal Kits: Trends and Opportunities in the US.
Check out the Q&A below to learn more about Jennifer and her perspective on industry research and analysis.
Who uses the market research you help produce? How does the research help clients with their work?
My clients use market research in so many ways. Some of the more common internal uses include training staff about industry trends and benchmarking their own internal numbers to see if they are keeping up with or surpassing trends in the total industry. Others use market research to evaluate their prospects for an area they will enter via acquisition or new product development and to check developments and growth of top competitors.
Clients want to know the “why” behind the numbers and our analysis provides that. They’re looking to know what’s next -- basically how to respond to regulatory changes, what end-users really think of their product, and where are the opportunities for growth in mature areas. They want to know about the current big-idea themes effecting their industry and how do they find opportunities in them to move their business forward. Our research answers those questions, always with our eyes on the themes and looking out for the next ones.
They also often use the information to educate vendors on why this category of products is seeing gains & deserves shelf space and to educate vendors and sales/marketing staff on how to talk about their products within a broader context.
Many of our clients use our graphics and data to create internal and external presentations, and they appreciate being able to cut and paste them easily, especially if they are subscribers and use our knowledge center online portal.
What is your favorite part of the study writing process?
I love the “a-ha!” moment. This is when something that seemed so unclear suddenly comes into focus or when I have a thought that just brings it all together.
How do you engage with clients as part of your job?
This is an important part of my job these days. I join in on as many primary research calls in my groups as I can – it’s a great way to stay on top of trends across my group’s research. I talk with past customers at the beginning of our research process for each topic, to be sure that the work that we are doing will best serve our clients’ needs. Sometimes, I send follow-up articles or notes relating to what we were chatting about or a special area of interest the client has discussed. I talk with customers after they have bought some research to answer questions and be sure that they understand what we have provided. I join our account managers to talk with prospective clients about their needs and how Freedonia analysts can solve their problems.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
My grandmother (who lived to be 102!) once told me “You’re going to be 5 years older in 5 years no matter what you do… so don’t wait – just get started!” I find that really motivating. Not only does time stop for no one, but there’s no reason for us to be passive and hold still waiting for things to happen to us either. Build your life and your career -- make it happen!
What publications do you read regularly?
I am a news junkie! I read anything I can get my hands on, but these days it helps to have some curated newsletters or news feeds that will bring industry, business, and consumer trend information from across the web to keep up with trends across my categories.
What’s your favorite office tradition?
Potluck lunches – there are some really wonderful & creative cooks in this office, so we eat really well on the days we have a potluck lunch!