If you have a new business idea or a new business vertical, a thorough documentation will help you explore the potential of the market you are addressing, anticipate the competition and be able to objectively evaluate your differentiators.
How can I explain to a potential partner or investor the potential of the market I am addressing with my product or service? How can I accurately and objectively estimate who the competition is? - these are two questions to which you must have concrete answers, to help you build a sustainable business.
Even if the potential of the market may seem "huge” at first glance, it is important for the statements to be based on solid information and to be supported by concrete figures. Furthermore, analyzing the competition is also very important - it is very likely that someone has already thought of similar ideas, so it is good to check them thoroughly.
Why do research? How does it help you?
In order to understand the potential of the market and to understand how to position yourself in relation to the other players, it is important to document yourself very well, so that you can invest your resources as best as possible - whether you have a new business or developing of an existing one.
Also, regardless of the stage of your business, you need to constantly monitor the market on which you operate, so that you can anticipate changes that could affect you or opportunities that are worth exploring.
A thorough documentation helps you:
See how the interest in an issue / type of service / product has evolved over time
Find figures and statistics that give you an overview of the market and the competition, which will also help you in wording your differentiators
Identify what improvements you can make to products/services that already exist - both in terms of functionality and experience, as well as in terms of the business model
How do you do your research?
First of all, with the right attitude: curious and always keeping an eye on what's happening, locally, regionally and globally.
What you need to know is that you won't find all the information you need in one place, but there are some sources that you can access at any time and from which you can extract the information you need.
Track data, trends and statistics
1. Use Google tools
It is not difficult to understand why the name Google has also become a verb in the meantime: ) It is always a starting point when you are looking for helpful resources for your industry. You can also use filters that help you with your research: for example – the Tools section offers you the possibility to filter the information based on its date of publication, as in the image below .
RECOMMENDATION: also set e-mail notifications for news on a certain topic / your industry through Google Alerts. The service is free and you can activate it here.
RECOMMENDATION: also use Google Trends, a free service that shows you how searches for certain terms have evolved in different geographies (you can select the country you are interested in from the top left corner).
2. Specialized press - search for local/international business or niche publications in your industry and see which topics are covered or which businesses are mentioned. They also help you get to the latest studies/news in your field more quickly.
RECOMMENDATION: Read them periodically to see who the opinion leaders for your sector, but also possible partners with whom you could develop the business are.
RECOMMENDATION: It also helps to see who the people who write about your industry are – their contacts will help you when you have news to share. You can already start your press list.
3. Statistics and market research
When you want to find out quantitative data about an industry, you can conduct your own study (with the help of a market research company). Given that its cost may be very high, you can start with data that is more easily accessible.
Public statistics - Economic reports or demographic data can be found on:
Paid Market Research - There are companies that offer paid market research studies - the topics are very varied, from wine consumption, for example, to biotechnology. Here are some examples of such platforms:
RECOMMENDATION: before purchasing such a study, check what year it was conducted in. Some may be slightly outdated. But if you also want to make a comparison with previous years, it really helps to have past data as well.
Studies carried out by business intelligence / market research companies - the companies that carry out market research studies publish some of them. here are some examples:
Follow your competition
As you identify your competitors, it's important to remember that they're not (just) doing the same thing as you, they're addressing the same need (and this can take many forms). The fact that there is competition for what you do is by no means a bad thing: it can show that the need exists, that there is interest from customers, and that several players on the market are focusing their efforts on educating consumers/users. But it does come with a challenge: to differentiate yourself in a way that is relevant and brings value to your future customers.
On the other hand, if there are no businesses in that field it's worth asking why - it's possible that they've proven unprofitable or extremely difficult to implement (so the fact that "we're the only ones on the market" might not to be a reason for joy :).
When looking at your competition, it's good to specifically identify:
what their offer is and what prices they charge
how they are organized (business model)
how they communicate with their customers and partners
what benefits they highlight.
RECOMMENDATION: It is also very important to test the services/products of the competition to understand the experience of customers who use them.
To help you track all these things in a more structured way, we have also prepared a downloadable template below that you can use for analyzing your competition.
In the first sheet you will find an analysis of their offer and in the second one an analysis of the way they communicate and promote their products.
Competition Research Sheet
Download the document and add insights about your competition