In a move that could have profound implications for the entertainment technology industry, the New York-based Entertainment Services and Technology Association (ESTA) is launching a global market research program, in concert with the trade organizations APIAS, CITT, PERA, PLASA, USITT, and VPLT. The aim is to provide manufacturers around the world with accurate market information for use in business planning, product development, charting trends, obtaining financing, and valuing their businesses.

The study will answer questions that have proved elusive until now. It will reveal the size of markets for specific product categories in both wholesale dollars, and, where applicable, units broken down by geographic area. This means that, for the first time ever, companies will be able to accurately track their market shares, compare sales trends for specific product segments, and identify sales patterns of products by geographic regions worldwide. The geographic breakdown consists of several categories: the US, North/Central America, South America, Europe, Africa/Middle East, and Asia/Pacific Rim. The report will also chart growth by product category against the same quarter in the prior year and on an annual basis, and will indicate what percent of an overall product category is represented by a specific subcategory.

ESTA president Mike Wood says, "If you are a manufacturer in the entertainment technology industry, there are two questions that you are probably asked more than any others: `How big is the market for your product' and `What is your share of that market?' The best you are able to do is guess the answer - it may be a very educated guess, but it is still a guess. And as one manufacturer put it, `Your guesses don't always hold up very well under cross-examination.' " He adds that the information contained in the report will be invaluable for anyone looking to fund growth or acquisitions, as well as anyone planning to put a business up for sale.

Companies may sign up to participate in the initial report from now through December 2000. The next opportunity will not come until January 2002. No company will be allowed to join the report partway through the year, as this would skew the numbers and growth calculations for the year. For more information about the ESTA Market Research Program for Manufacturers, or to get a sign-up form, contact Lori Rubinstein in the ESTA office at (212) 224-1505, or by email at lrubinstein@esta.org.