3. Research the market

By now, you will have worked out your ambition and question, and perhaps even an outline of the current and desired external chain. To validate these, you can now conduct a market survey. A market validation will help you to sharpen your ambitions to achieve maximum sustainability impact. A market survey will also give you the most up-to-date knowledge, which is extremely valuable, as market parties often evolve quickly.

3.1 Ensure clear objectives

Formulate a clear objective of your market survey in advance. This is important because asking for information costs time – not only for you, but for market parties as well. Communicate that objective in your request for information so that parties can estimate the extent to which they can contribute.

Possible objectives of a market survey are:

  • To validate your own scope and ambitions
  • To collect information on what is possible in the market
  • To test the procurement strategy
  • To create internal and external support for circular procurement

3.2 Consider a market consultation

A part of your market survey could be a market consultation. In a market consultation, you consult several interested organisations about your procurement assignment. With the knowledge that you gain, you can check with market parties whether your demand is feasible and then formulate your demand more effectively. With a market consultation, you create the right expectations among market parties at the same time.

In addition, ask market parties for the information that you need:

  • What are common requirements?
  • Where are circular opportunities?
  • What do parties want to be challenged on?

Make sure to keep an open mind to get the most out of your discussions. You can incorporate the insights you gain into your final tender.

3.3 Types of market consultation

There are several ways to design a market consultation. This depends on your objective and the information that you need. When choosing the form, take into account the effort needed from market parties – the survey must remain proportional to the scope of the task.

There are three basic types of market consultation:

  • Request for Information (RFI)
    Digital request for information, such as by means of a questionnaire through TenderNed.
  • 1-on-1 interviews
    Individual discussions with market parties. Tip: send a questionnaire before the interview and ask for a response so that you can decide in advance which topics you want to discuss in person.
  • Plenary market consultation
    An open meeting where market parties hear your ideas and questions, as well as those from one another. This also allows them to interact with one another and maybe form consortia.

If you can, opt for a combination of these three forms. This will depend on the objective of your market consultation – do you only want to collect information or, for example, validate your ambitions or encourage forming of consortia as well? In the first case, a series of individual market consultations is a good idea; in the second, a plenary market consultation may be more effective.

Opting for a plenary market consultation or 1-on-1 interviews? Make sure you keep an open mind. This helps you to get the most out of your circular procurement process. If opting for a plenary market consultation, make sure to have a clear report. Public organisations must also publish these reports in the public domain as an annex to the tender documents.

For inspiration

The Province of North Holland surveyed market parties about ambitions before the Cruquiusbrug tender went out. Their feedback allowed those ambitions to be sharpened. The outcome was an ambition document that then became the leading document in the tender.

Points for action

  • Set a clear objective for your market survey and communicate it in your RFI.
  • Consider a market consultation and choose the form that best suits your objective.

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