In an earlier post on Mercator Labs, we discussed different types of market opportunities as new companies aim to enter existing markets or create entirely new markets. Both of those avenues require significant background research as those companies’ backbone consists of evaluating market size and the potential for growth. This post explores some ways to go about evaluating market size
Market Research: Defining the Space
In a world chalk full of data and research, it becomes a bit daunting on how to attack this topic of defining a market opportunity for any given product or service. First thing’s first: keep it simple, stupid.
Address the questions you are looking to explain in the simplest, clearest terms. Most things can be compartmentalized and when it comes to evaluating market size, this is a good approach:
What business sector/s does my product or service target?
Remember, evaluating market size is an equation: you have a list of variables that we need to unearth in order to solve for. But before we assign rules and restrictions to those variables, we need to be crystal clear about the space we play in. It sounds silly, right? Who knows your product better than the founding team? But remember- you are explaining it to folks that aren’t familiar with your product or service. It’s vital to clearly define the business sectors you will be operating in as well as the specific markets your product or service will offered in.
What is the market size (dollar value) of the opportunity within this business sector?
The top 25 market research firms employ over 100,000 people generating over $15 billion in research-related revenue. There is a multi-billion dollar industry that is built off of market research, some of which could be leveraged to help sell your market sizing opportunity.
If you’re not as familiar with market research reports, read the blog for Nielsen or download some of their free reports.
If you are familiar with these reports, begin honing in on companies that cater to the verticals your product or service are geared towards. They will have more detailed and contextual analysis available for that particular market opportunity.
Alternatively, several startups will use their own data to help build insights and branding. As long as they’re not direct competitors (or maybe that could even work in some instances), it can complement broader market research provided by larger firms.
Who is my target demographic?
While you can paint a fairly clear picture with business sector data, demographic data can help bolster the overall opportunity if your product or service focuses on a particular age or gender. For macro considerations, it’s helpful to turn to the World Bank or the IMF. Urban data is becoming increasingly more popular as several startups are focusing on densely populated urban areas. Quick links for city/urban data include City-Data.com, Census.gov, as well as the World Urbanization Prospects produced by the United Nations. There is complementary data provided by companies such as eMarketer as well.
Understanding how you believe consumers will use your product or service will allow you to target specific data to back up projections.
Who are my direct competitors?
This is a common question you will be asked by a multiple of folks along your journey to building a successful company. Identifying the top players and even smaller niche players that could grow at the same type of projections is key.
It’s imperative to identify the biggest breadth of the market you can that you’re looking to disrupt or develop. That begins the path of creating an ecosystem of companies. Once you have an ecosystem established, you lay out a set of criteria: price, product offering, size, distribution, value proposition etc.
There are plenty of tools to start answering these questions once your ecosystem is established: Compete and Alexa for distribution, Google AdWords Keyword Tracker for size, competitors’ websites for value proposition, price and product offering. Even Google Alerts on specific keywords or companies you wish to track.
Establishing market opportunity and ultimately the size of the prize is both an art and science. You are building multiple concentric ecosystems with specific criteria that fit what your product or service is ultimately addressing. This plan will inevitably change with unexpected twists and turns on adoption, costs and a number of other factors meaning that market opportunity model needs to keep adapting to the changing environment.