As per the last economic census* conducted in Pakistan, there are 3.25 million establishments doing business in Pakistan. There is marked difference in the number of establishments per province with Punjab having the highest number of establishments (64%) in Pakistan, to Baluchistan which has only 2% of the total establishments in Pakistan.
Only 5.6% of all establishments were household establishments. Meanwhile the three top establishments by industry division were wholesale retail trade hotels & restaurants followed by community services & personal services like education health government departments etc and manufacturing with 53%, 22.3% and 19.72% share respectively.
An important thing to note is that a large majority (96%) of total establishments have employment size from 1-5 employees while only ~1% have 11 or more employees**.
The unique characteristics of the economic actors as well as the ever changing landscape of these establishments, makes it essential yet challenging to study and track them. It is also equally important to make sure that the information is current, reliable and decision ready.
Some of the challenges and difficulties for collecting information of or from these establishments include:
- The names of the businesses (especially retail outlets) keep on changing. Sometimes even the ownership and nature of the establishment also changes and it becomes difficult to track information from these establishments.
- Government database for these establishments is outdated and not accessible due to some regulations.
- There is minimal documentation at the establishments due to fear of tax and inspections. There is also a general mistrust and caution observed by the establishments due to the prevalent security situation in the country.
IFT understands these challenges and has developed innovative approaches while conducting business & establishment studies, from Retail Audits to B2B Customer Satisfaction Surveys to B2B Product Usage Studies to Skill Assessment Studies for industries such as telecom, dairy, beverages, education and government organizations. Some of the innovative approaches to collect reliable and accurate information are as follows.
- Use GPS devices to keep track of establishments for longitudinal studies even if the shop/institution changes its name the enumerators are still able to identify the outlet and collect necessary data. The GPS coordinates are often complemented with hand drawn maps to assist in back checks and revisits.
- Due to the absence of available listing and rapidly changing ownership and telephone numbers, it is best to conduct face to face interviews as they deliver better value with better participation and more accurate information.
- During retail audits, it is often very difficult to get accurate information with the absence of receipts or the reluctance to show them. Monthly diaries are also not that reliable due to the forgetfulness of the retail shop owners. So it often makes sense to increase the frequency of visit to the retail establishments (with very minimal increase in cost) which helps in building relations with the retailers and getting more accurate information. It is also important that cash incentives are often considered bribes and should be avoided in the Pakistan market. Therefore, it is better to build social relationships with the retailers to get better information especially for tracking studies.
So next time if you plan to do B2B research in Pakistan, using these approaches will help you get better value and more reliable information.
This post is part of a series on B2B market in Pakistan and aims to inform and educate the reader on the various aspects of B2B research and market dynamics.
*The last economic census in Pakistan was published in 2005.
**The results maybe a bit skewed as some large organizations and some government organizations did not provide employment data.