Analyze your market like a pro with this step-by-step guide + insider tips

Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that you already know enough about your market.

No matter how fantastic your product or service is, your business cannot succeed without sufficient market demand.

You need a clear understanding of who will buy your product or service and why.

You want to know if there is a clear market gap and a market large enough to support the survival and growth of your business.

Industry research and market analysis will help make sure that you are on the right track.

It takes time, but it is time well spent. Thank me later.

WHAT is Market Analysis?

The Market Analysis section of a business plan is also sometimes called:

  • Market Demand, Market Trends, Target Market, The Market
  • Industry Analysis & Trends, Industry & Market Analysis, Industry and Market Research

WHY Should You Do Market Analysis?

First and foremost, you need to demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that there is real need and sufficient demand for your product or service in the market, now and going forward.

  • What makes you think that people will buy your products or services?
  • Can you prove it?

Your due diligence on the market opportunity and validating the problem and solution described in the Product and Service section of your business plan are crucial for the success of your venture.

Also, no company operates in a vacuum. Every business is part of a larger overall industry, the forces that affect your industry as a whole will inevitably affect your business as well.

Evaluating your industry and market increases your own knowledge of the factors that contribute to your company’s success and shows the readers of your business plan that you understand the external business conditions.

External Support

In fact, if you are seeking outside financing, potential backers will most definitely be interested in industry and market conditions and trends.

You will make a positive impression and have a better chance of getting their support if you show market analysis that strengthens your business case, combining relevant and reliable data with sound judgement.

Let’s break down how to do exactly that, step by step:

HOW To Do Market Analysis: Step-by-Step

So, let’s break up how market analysis is done into three steps:

  1. Industry: the total market
  2. Target Market: specific segments of the industry that you will target
  3. Target Customer: characteristics of the customers that you will focus on

Step 1: Industry Analysis

How Do You Define an Industry?

For example, the fashion industry includes fabric suppliers, designers, companies making finished clothing, distributors, sales representatives, trade publications, retail outlets online and on the high street.

How Do You Analyze an Industry?

Briefly describe your industry, including the following considerations:

1.1. Economic Conditions

Outline the current and projected economic conditions that influence the industry your business operates in, such as:

  • Official economic indicators like GDP or inflation
  • Labour market statistics
  • Foreign trade (e.g., import and export statistics)
1.2. Industry Description

Highlight the distinct characteristic of your industry, including:

  • Market leaders, major customer groups and customer loyalty
  • Supply chain and distribution channels
  • Profitability (e.g., pricing, cost structure, margins), financials
  • Key success factors
  • Barriers to entry preventing new companies from competing in the industry
1.3. Industry Size and Growth

Estimate the size of your industry and analyze how industry growth affects your company’s prospects:

  • Current size (e.g., revenues, units sold, employment)
  • Historic and projected industry growth rate (low/medium/high)
  • Life-cycle stage/maturity (emerging/expanding/ mature/declining)
1.4. Industry Trends
  • Industry Trends:
    Describe the key industry trends and evaluate the potential impact of PESTEL (political / economic / social / technological / environmental / legal) changes on the industry, including the level of sensitivity to:
    • Seasonality
    • Economic cycles
    • Government regulation (e.g. environment, health and safety, international trade, performance standards, licensing/certification/fair trade/deregulation, product claims)
      Technological change
  • Global Trends:
    Outline global trends affecting your industry
    • Identify global industry concerns and opportunities
    • International markets that could help to grow your business
  • Strategic Opportunity:
    Highlight the strategic opportunities that exist in your industry

Step 2: Target Customer Identification

Who is a Target Customer?

One business can have–and often does have–more than one target customer group.

The success of your business depends on your ability to meet the needs and wants of your customers. So, in a business plan, your aim is to assure readers that:

  • Your customers actually exist
  • You know exactly who they are and what they want
  • They are ready for what you have to offer and are likely to actually buy

How Do You Identify an Ideal Target Customer?

2.1. Target Customer
  • Identify the customer, remembering that the decision-maker who makes the purchase can be a different person or entity than the end-user.
2.2. Demographics
  • For consumers (demographics): Age, gender, income, occupation, education, family status, home ownership, lifestyle (e.g., work and leisure activities)
  • For businesses (firmographic): Industry, sector, years in business, ownership, size (e.g., sales, revenues, budget, employees, branches, sq footage)
2.3. Geographic Location
  • Where are your customers based, where do they buy their products/services and where do they actually use them
2.4 Purchasing Patterns
  • Identify customer behaviors, i.e., what actions they take
  • Explain the customer buying habits, behavior and patterns in terms of:
    • what
    • when
    • how
    • how much
    • how frequently
    • and how quickly they buy
2.5. Psychographics
  • Identify customer attitudes, i.e., how they think or feel

  • Explain the most important factors, reasons, motivations, preferences, priorities and sensitivities that influence customers’ purchasing decisions, for example:
    • Urgency, price, quality, reputation, image, convenience, availability, features, brand, customer service, return policy, sustainability, eco-friendliness, supporting local business
    • Necessity/luxury, high involvement bit ticket item / low involvement consumable

Step 3: Target Market Analysis

What is a Target Market?

How Do You Analyze a Target Market?

So, how many people are likely to become your customers?

To get an answer to this questions, narrow the industry into your target market with a manageable size, and identify its key characteristics, size and trends:

3.1. Target Market Description

Define your target market by:

  • Type: B2C, B2B, government, non-profits
  • Geographic reach: Specify the geographic location and reach of your target market
3.2. Market Size and Share

Estimate how large is the market for your product or service (e.g., number of customers, annual purchases in sales units and $ revenues). Explain the logic behind your calculation:

  • TAM (Total Available/Addressable/Attainable Market) is the total maximum demand for a product or service that could theoretically be generated by selling to everyone in the world who could possibly buy from you, regardless of competition and any other considerations and restrictions.

  • SAM (Serviceable Available Market) is the portion of the TAM that you could potentially address in a specific market. For example, if your product/service is only available in one country or language.

  • SOM (Service Obtainable Market / Share of Market) is the share of the SAM that you can realistically carve out for your product or service. This the target market that you will be going after and can reasonably expect to convert into a customer base.
3.3. Market Trends

Illustrate the most important themes, changes and developments happening in your market. Explain the reasons behind these trends and how they will favor your business.

3.4. Demand Growth Opportunity

Estimate future demand for your offering by translating past, current and future market demand trends and drivers into forecasts:

  • Historic growth: Check how your target market has grown in the past.
  • Drivers past: Identify what has been driving that growth in the past.
  • Drivers future: Assess whether there will be any change in influence of these and other drivers in the future.

How Big Should My Target Market Be?

Well, if the market opportunity is small, it will limit how big and successful your business can become. In fact, it may even be too small to support a successful business at all.

On the other hand, many businesses make the mistake of trying to appeal to too many target markets, which also limits their success by distracting their focus.

What If My Stats Look Bad?

Large and growing market suggests promising demand for your offering now and into the future. Nevertheless, your business can still thrive in a smaller or contracting market.

Instead of hiding from unfavorable stats, acknowledge that you are swimming against the tide and devise strategies to cope with whatever lies ahead.

Step 4: Industry and Market Analysis Research

The market analysis section of your business plan should illustrate your own industry and market knowledge as well as the key findings and conclusions from your research.

Back up your findings with external research sources (= secondary research) and results of internal market research and testing (= primary research).

What is Primary and Secondary Market Research?

Yes, there are two main types of market research – primary and secondary – and you should do both to adequately cover the market analysis section of your business plan:

  • Primary market research is original data you gather yourself, for example in the form of active fieldwork collecting specific information in your market.

  • Secondary market research involves collating information from existing data, which has been researched and shared by reliable outside sources. This is essentially passive desk research of information already published.

Unless you are working for a corporation, this exercise is not about your ability to do professional-level market research.

Instead, you just need to demonstrate fundamental understanding of your business environment and where you fit in within the market and broader industry.

Why Do You Need To Do Primary & Secondary Market Research?

There are countless ways you could go collecting industry and market research data, depending on the type of your business, what your business plan is for, and what your needs, resources and circumstances are.

For tried and tested tips on how to properly conduct your market research, read the next section of this guide that is dedicated to primary and secondary market research methods.

In any case, tell the reader how you carried out your market research. Prove what the facts are and where you got your data. Be as specific as possible. Provide statistics, numbers, and sources.

When doing secondary research, always make sure that all stats, facts and figures are from reputable sources and properly referenced in both the main text and the Appendix of your business plan. This gives more credibility to your business case as the reader has more confidence in the information provided.

Go to the Primary and Secondary Market Research post for my best tips on industry, market and competitor research.

7 TOP TIPS For Writing Market Analysis

1. Realistic Projections

Above all, make sure that you are realistic in your projections about how your product or service is going to be accepted in the market, otherwise you are going to seriously undermine the credibility of your entire business case.

2. Laser Focus

Discuss only characteristic of your target market and customers that are observable, factual and meaningful, i.e. directly relate to your customers’ decision to purchase.

Always relate the data back to your business. Market statistics are meaningless until you explain where and how your company fits in.

For example, as you write about the market gap and the needs of your target customers, highlight how you are uniquely positioned to fill them.

In other words, your goal is to:

  1. Present your data
  2. Analyze the data
  3. Tie the data back to how your business can thrive within your target market

3. Target Audience

On a similar note, tailor the market analysis to your target audience and the specific purpose at hand.

For example, if your business plan is for internal use, you may not have to go into as much detail about the market as you would have for external financiers, since your team is likely already very familiar with the business environment your company operates in.

4. Story Time

Make sure that there is a compelling storyline and logical flow to the market information presented.

5. Visuals

The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” certainly applies here. Industry and market statistics are easier to understand and more impactful if presented as a chart or graph.

6. Information Overload

Keep your market analysis concise by only including pertinent information. No fluff, no repetition, no drowning the reader in a sea of redundant facts.

While you should not assume that the reader knows anything about your market, do not elaborate on unnecessary basic facts either.

Do not overload the reader in the main body of the business plan. Move everything that is not essential to telling the story into the Appendix. For example, summarize the results of market testing survey in the main body of the business plan document, but move the list of the actual survey questions into the appendix.

7. Marketing Plan

Note that market analysis and marketing plan are two different things, with two distinct chapters in a business plan.

As the name suggests, market analysis examines where you fit in within your desired industry and market. As you work thorugh this section, jot down your ideas for the marketing and strategy section of your business plan.

Final Thoughts

Remember that the very act of doing the research and analysis is a great opportunity to learn things that affect your business that you did not know before, so take your time doing the work.

Related Questions

What is the PURPOSE of Industry & Market Research and Analysis?

The purpose of industry and market research and analysis is to qualitatively and quantitatively assess the environment of a business and to confirm that the market opportunity is sufficient for sustainable success of that business.

Why are Industry & Market Research and Analysis IMPORTANT?

Industry and market research and analysis are important because they allow you to gain knowledge of the industry, the target market you are planning to sell to, and your competition, so you can make informed strategic decisions on how to make your business succeed.

How Can Industry & Market Research and Analysis BENEFIT a Business?

Industry and market research and analysis benefit a business by uncovering opportunities and threats within its environment, including attainable market size, ideal target customers, competition and any potential difficulties on the company’s journey to success.

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