Understanding how your market works and what customers want is vital. When done right, it will enable you to find investors, help spot potential roadblocks, and most importantly, attract customers.
Having a properly done market analysis is going to provide key data to convince the investors that your business idea is worth investing in because you will have the hard numbers to back it up.
What is a Market Analysis?
Market analysis is determining the characteristics unique to your particular market and analyzing this information, which will help you make informed decisions for your startup. A market analysis will help you determine and gather valuable data that will enable you to get to know your customers, figure out your competitors, set pricing and pinpoint exactly where opportunities lie.
Industry Description and Outlook
The first step is to describe your industry, paying close attention to its current size and historic growth rate, as well as other trends and characteristics. Relevant industry metrics like size, trends, life cycle, and projected growth should all be included here.
Target Market or Niche Market
It’s important to establish a clear idea of your target market or niche market early on. A lot of new entrepreneurs make the newbie mistake of thinking that everyone is their potential market; they are not. By identifying your real customers, you’ll be able to better use your marketing dollars in an effective way while attracting and retaining loyal customers. The target market section of your business plan should include the following:
- User Persona and Characteristics: A persona represents a cluster of users who exhibit similar behavioral patterns in their purchasing decisions, use of technology or products, customer service preferences, lifestyle choices, and the like. Behaviors, attitudes, and motivations are common to a “type” regardless of age, gender, education, and other typical demographics.
- Market size: Do your research and find out who and where your competitors are, and how much your customers spend annually on your product or service. How big is the potential market for your business? A question you should ask yourself is who do you fear most and why?
Evaluate your competitors by placing them in strategic groups according to how directly they compete for a share of the customer’s dollar. For each competitor, list their product or service, strengths and weaknesses, and size. Obviously, it’s a good idea to know what you’re up against, but this strategy also lets you spot the competition’s weaknesses. Are there customers out there being under served? What can you offer that similar businesses aren’t offering? The competitive analysis should contain the following components:
- Market: Who are your main competitors? Are there any indirect competitors who could impact your business?
- Competitor strengths and weaknesses: What is your competition good at? Where do they leave a gap where you can come in and meet the need they are not addressing?
- Window of opportunity: Does your entry into the market rely on time-sensitive technology? Do you need to get in early to take advantage of an emerging market?
- Barriers to entry: Is the industry easy or difficult to enter? If entry is easy, competitors enter the market during periods of high profitability and expand production capacity. This drives down prices and profit margins. Barriers to entry make it more difficult for competitors to enter so profit margins remain favorable. Barriers to entry include the following:
- Limited access to markets – If the market is dominated by well established branded products, a new entrant will need to spend the time, money and effort to establish a successfully branded product.
- Large-scale production – If large scale production requires substantial financial investment, the financial requirements will limit entry.
- Limited access to technology or production processes – Patented technology and other intellectual property will also limit entry.
This is where you examine your weaknesses. Be honest with investors and yourself.
Some business may be subject to governmental regulations or restrictions in order to provide a fair ground in which to do business. If your business is subject to regulations or restrictions, you’ll need to bring them up and discuss how you’re going to comply with them. Is there a cost to the compliance?
In conclusion, market analyses vary from industry to industry and company to company. Most of the information you will need to include can be found by a simple Google search and, most importantly, it can be found for free. Keep in mind that a little estimation is okay, but the bulk of your numbers need to be based on facts and they must, in all cases, be sourced. If you don’t know were to begin, download our entrepreneurship guide that outlines all the good places to start your market research.