How do Barbour ABI and Glenigan work?

Construction market intelligence is a great source of new leads for building products businesses. As far as a centralised source of new project leads – it doesn’t get better than this. But sometimes the paywall puts a pause on further consideration. But when you have done everything else and you’re still having trouble generating leads, where do you turn? Maybe you’ve called all the companies you can find in directories. Your network is quiet. The phones haven’t rung in a while.

For the last 80 years (when Barbour ABI, the market leader in construction intelligence, first started) they’ve been a central part of the industry. They aren’t a cheap and fast solution. They are powerful tools that deserve thought and consideration before subscribing.

If you’re considering them, then you’re probably wondering: how do they find these projects? If they can find them; then can’t you find them for yourself? Well, let’s take a look at how they do it.

How do Barbour ABI and Glenigan work?

Construction market intelligence companies like Barbour ABI and Glenigan provide subscribers with searchable databases of construction projects in the UK along with details about these projects. They have many details including timelines, project types, materials required, size, and budget. They also give you contact details for contractors, architects, engineers, and many other roles working on these projects.

How do they find the information?

The construction planning system requires new projects to be submitted and approved before they can be started. The planning permission system gives construction market intelligence companies a reliable source through which every construction large project must pass. This provides research teams with the resource they need to make a comprehensive list of all the new construction jobs being planned or underway in the UK.

Refurbishment and renovation projects constitute a large portion of the UK construction sector but don’t necessarily come through the planning system. Will they be listed? These projects require a bit more research, but the teams at construction market intelligence companies are on it. They are more difficult to find, and some of them are missed, but as many as can be found are listed.

After the information on a project is initially uploaded to the database it must be updated with any changes to the timeline, budget, or scope of the project. This is where the extensive team of researchers comes in again to follow up on projects and update listings with any changes. These changes are reflected in the database and subscribers following those jobs can see the adjustments and change their outreach plan accordingly.


What information do Barbour ABI and Glenigan supply?

From the planning applications they gather:

  1. Project locations

    From this you know you're looking for projects in the geographic region in which your business operates, this could be national, regional or even in a specific town or city. 

  2. Category/type of project

    These include residential, retail, commercial, etc. If you're a housebuilder then you can reduce your search to residential only. or if you supply an industrial scale product you can exclude the types of projects that this wouldn't be relevant to.  

  3. Project stage

    Ensure you're reaching out at the time your solution is needed by selected the project stage that's right for you. These include planning stages and contract stages. 

  4. Timing

    Find out when construction on a project is due to start and end. This helps you to calculate lead times and make contact at the right time. 

  5. Materials

    This is a very specific set of criteria that looks at both the materials involved in a project and the systems, objects and pre-existing structures. It helps you to dig down into the specifics of a project's design and spec. 

  6. Budget

    Select values in the thousands or millions. If your products are for high-end properties then you can target them. 

  7. Contacts

    This is so you know the calls you make and the emails you send out are going to the relevant stakeholder working on that project. From architects and main contractors to more specific roles like energy consultant and security subcontractor. 

This way you know where, when, and what is being planned and specified for every project in the country. And not to mention the contact details of key decision-makers. But with great power comes great responsibility. If you come off too strong you risk joining the rest of the project vultures who inundate architects with cold calls and cold emails as soon as a project is listed. There are good and bad ways to initiate these conversations, and in the information age, where product info can be found online at the customer’s convenience, disruptive calls or emails aren’t necessarily the best route.

How have they changed over the years?

We’ve discussed their core offering, but there’s more too. As the services have grown, so have their services. Market intelligence is more than new projects and contact details. Now you can access detailed market reports outlining market trends and analysis of the residential, offices, industrial, hotel & leisure and retail sectors.  These reports cover the whole of the UK and are usually available at a small additional cost.

How is this helpful?

Theoretically, you could do this yourself – but it would take years of phone calls, relationship building, and extensive spreadsheets. It’s a full-time job. With construction market intelligence companies you’re paying for the convenience of having it all done for you. Many building product businesses have decided it’s worth it.

How helpful is depends on the system you have in place to use this information. If you sign up thinking it will be a magic bullet for customer acquisition, you’ll be disappointed. Unfortunately, small companies are the ones who make this mistake the most. And they are the ones who can afford it the least.

What you’re paying for is intelligence, not a marketing service. If you’re a company that needs help with its sales and marketing, you may need to focus on those capabilities separately.

If you already have a strong sales and marketing strategy in place, then construction market intelligence like Barbour ABI or Glenigan can give you a host of new opportunities and contacts. The meaty information they provide can lead to a serious increase in revenue for those who know how to use it.

If you find yourself in a position where you’d like to take advantage of this resource, but don’t think you have the capability to make the most of it, there are companies who have sprung up just to help companies of every size and development stage use Construction Market Intelligence to its full potential.

One new such service is Project Prospecta. We’re glad you found us.


This is a short introduction to construction market intelligence, how it works and where it comes from. In short, it’s one of the most comprehensive, specific, and up-to-date lead generation tools available to construction product companies. If you’re thinking: “that sounds impressive” – it is. Barbour ABI, Glenigan, and some smaller companies offer great services, with lots of potential for future work opportunities. But it’s not a substitute for a sales and marketing strategy. You can absolutely grow your business with market intelligence, but not without a plan for how to use it.

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