B2B publishing is getting more international and more data-driven. If you can achieve both at the same time, you may well be onto something.
Last week, Top Right Group’s fashion forcasting business WGSN bought Mindset Communicacao Marketing, a Brazilian consumer behaviour analysis specialist, for an undisclosed amount.
WGSN sells subscriptions to the fashion industry for its trend-watching analysis service; Mindset has its own subscriptions base of around 370 in Brazil and other Latin American countries (release).
It’s the second purchase from WGSN this year, following the acquisition of global fashion forecaster Mudpie, which itself has a global customer base. If you’re not familiar with WGSN, here’s a new flashy corporate video with a bouncy upbeat soundtrack.
What does this mean?
It’s an interesting move from the company formerly known as EMAP (confusingly, EMAP remains the name of its B2B magazine division). While industry peers Reed Exhibitions and UBM have made inroads into the Latin American events market in the last five years, this is notable for not being an events purchase.
Top Right claims the Brazilian retail market is set to grow by 40 percent between 2012 and 2015. This is a launchpad for Top Right to grow organic revenue in fast-moving economy with its existing business.
It also adds further weight to Top Right CEO Duncan Painter’s stated aim to hold on to and invest in his assets for at least the next five years two to three years (edit: I counted the years wrong, it is of course 2016-17 when TRG would openly consider a sale). To that end, WGSN has received £10 million of investment in the last 18 months.
Andrea Bisker, commercial director of the newly formed WGSN Latin America division, says: “We can now bring WGSN’s worldwide analysts and specialists – in such diverse fields as fashion, technology, design, communication and education – into our local projects, enabling our Latin American customers to work and research globally.”
Top Right is owned by private equity house Apax Partners and Guardian Media Group, both of whom say they are happy to wait for a much-delayed exit.
Meanwhile at WGSN, the product mix is expanding. The company has launched INstock, a retail analytics tool that provides “in-market intelligence to inform business-critical buying and merchandising decisions…. INstock enables users to view complete product ranges and to track key market metrics in an instant.”
If you were to were to write a dictionary of what a digital B2B workflow tool would do, that would do the trick. WGSN says the entire taxonomy and interface has been built by former retailers and is designed to work in conjunction with existing WGSN products.
This deserves extended attention because Top Right is solving a problem its audience faces every day. Large fashion retailers tend to rely on manual marketing tools to track industry trends (this will sound familiar to many media people) meaning that data is often out of date by the time it’s compiled. This new product reports on 250,000 products and more than three million units across the market daily.
Tracking competitors’ actions and market trends is perhaps the most important kind of business information – the kind of thing you would base real decisions on. Backing the wrong trend in fashion could potentially lose you millions or put you ahead of the curve.
As many traditional B2B publishers meddle with data products, wonder whether to go monthly or digital-only, boost their events portfolios and invest in “quality content”, it’s worth looking at examples of data businesses that put crucial information in their customers’ hands first.