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Market mapping: an external lens to inform and empower strategic decisions

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When most people engage with an Executive Search firm, they do so for one of two reasons; to find themselves a new role or to hire within their organisation. However, these form only part of the range of services a high-quality search partner can provide. An often-overlooked additional service can be an extensive data-gathering exercise, such as market mapping.

Market mapping can provide a business with a clearer understanding of the market landscape, their customer needs, and competitive dynamics, which can inform strategic decision-making to stay ahead of their competition. It can also help evolve thinking around talent strategies and structures.

In this article, we discuss recent market mapping projects carried out by Louis Henry, Associate Partner, and Charlotte Payne, Delivery Consultant, both within the HR practice at Eton Bridge Partners. These projects focused on identifying and examining the organisational structure of multiple businesses within a target sector over a period of research, providing the client with valuable research and insights.


Market mapping “beyond industry expectations”

While market mapping is often part of the search process, the level of detail involved in Eton Bridge’s research approach goes far beyond the industry standard. Understanding the current employment landscape is often the key to making the kind of hiring decisions which will continue to be valuable long into the future and by utilising our in-house research and industry knowledge, we are able to add real value to our clients.

“Change is always happening in some form. No organisation, realistically speaking, is ever static,” says Charlotte. “Whether that is growth, downsizing, operating model change… the question is always “what is the nature of the change happening in your organisation” rather than simply “is change happening in your organisation?”

Our market mapping provision equips senior leaders and hiring managers with exclusive access to other organisation’s structures, a clear understanding of how competitor’s teams are designed and detailed insights into the current recruiting landscape.


A bespoke approach, with clear vision and thought-provoking conclusions

The first step is understanding with precision what the client is looking to achieve from the project and whether it is part of a wider strategic plan. The initial brief determines which organisations will be targeted and the depth and purpose of information required. This research can provide a broad spectrum of information regarding people and performance of the business. The focus is on providing the most relevant data that meets the business objectives of the client.

These projects provide key insights for our clients that can feed into operating model transformation, , flagging how competitors  structure their departments, or highlighting the need for a large restructuring project. In addition, market mapping often leads to the identification of key talent, providing a useful recruitment tool for decision makers.

Usually, these projects are not initiated as a result of a recruitment need; the main purpose is to detail the internal workings of each target organisation and compare the structures and mechanics (how they do what they do) in comparison to each other. Incorporating details such as location, salary banding and departmental structure, provides a very deep and accurate insight into competitors’ HR processes.

Eton Bridge Partners has a strong and long-standing reputation with HR leaders. As one of the largest Human Resources functional practices in executive search in the UK, we have a valuable aggregated sector specialism. The relationships that we have built with our clients and candidates facilitate the confidential discussions necessary to acquire highly detailed HR information. This data is then collated and examined to provide valuable insight that would not be otherwise accessible to the client.


“Clients find the conclusions presented at the end of the report highly valuable, featuring any general themes and highlighting the most relevant and surprising information. Efficient and effective interpretation of the data is a result of extensive expertise and represents a huge value-add for any market mapping project.”


Beauty in the detail

For instance, a notable market mapping project we recently undertook was designed to inform a major operating model transformation and support the movement to a decentralised model.

The knowledge accumulated from market mapping can be utilised far beyond the initial scope of the project. “While this client initiated the work because they had an upcoming transformation project, I wouldn’t be surprised if they go back much more regularly to this document for other purposes, such as internal salary review, internal promotion, external hiring of people, talent management, operational and organisational change… these could all be driven by this kind of project,” says Louis.

Following market mapping projects of this depth, we can provide a greater level of insight into competitor organisations than most clients have access to directly.

Similar projects have also been used to:

  • Provide peace of mind that current practices are in line with competition
  • Drive future transformation
  • Highlight future talent needs
  • Address skills and expertise shortages
  • Uncover a specific individual who might be of value to the organisation (while the initiative isn’t recruitment targeted, from a talent management perspective we have a duty to present anyone that might be beneficial to clients)


Therefore, this data can be viewed through several different lenses and with unlimited applications. With the expertise to interpret the data and fill in the gaps to ensure that the most consistent, accurate and thorough overview is presented, the result is a significant and detailed report of the selected HR environment.


If you’d like to find out more about our market mapping provision, don’t hesitate to contact us at Eton Bridge.

Louis Henry & Charlotte Payne