Thinking of launching a new business, product line or interested in what your competitors are doing? There are many resources from which to gather the information you need.
You can find useful data from a wide range of sources, including:
- Your local business reference library
- Press Releases and articles from trade publication websites
- Your trade association, local authority or Chamber of Commerce
- The Office for National Statistics – for information on the economy, population and social trends
- The business pages of national newspapers
- Your business’ own data – for analysis of your sales records or levels of enquiries ie. Google Analytics
- Your customers – monitoring their buying habits and how they behave is one of the best methods of market research
- For detailed intelligent data, try using a market research agency for market reports, consulting or for conducting a survey
Once you have all your data collected, you need to be careful how you interpret it.
External data might not be in a format that’s easy to use. It may have been collected for other purposes or be from a range that doesn’t tally with your target market.
Beware of out-of-date market information. This can be misleading, as the market may have changed significantly since the information was published. It can be particularly hard to tell how recent any information published on the internet is.
Remember that statistics can sometimes mask the true picture. For example, an ‘average’ income for the population in your area might conceal a high proportion of low earners – meaning fewer people can afford your product than it appears. To avoid this, take a look at the detailed response figures.
Most importantly, be aware of your own biases. Finding market information that simply confirms what you already believe is easy – but only a realistic picture of your customers and markets will be useful to your business.