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Researching your market

Before starting a business, it is important to research your market to find out if there are potential customers for your product or service, how competitive the marketplace is, what customers expect and how much they are prepared to pay. The more information you have about your potential customers, the more you will be able to sell!


Things to think about:

Who are your potential customers? Will you be selling to individuals or businesses? What sort of jobs do your customers have? Where do they live? How often will they buy your product or service? Will your customers want to buy online or from a shop? Will they buy on a seasonal basis? How much can your customers afford (or are prepared) to pay? What will make your customers decide to buy from you rather than a competitor?

Ways to collect information:

  • If you have any potential or existing customers in mind, get as much feedback from them as possible about your proposed product or service and any of your competitors that they already use.
  • Ask friends and family what they think of your idea and whether they would use your product or service.
  • Conduct a survey of the public about your product or service. This is particularly relevant if you can conduct your survey in a place where your potential customers may be (eg. Near the location of a proposed shop or premises).
  • Organise a focus group to discuss your product or service.
  • Contact your local library or look online for directories and trade associations that will have population and statistical information about your marketplace.
  • Find out as much as you can about your competitors by looking at their literature, advertising and speaking to their customers if possible. You may even want to use their product or service as a customer to find out more information about them.
  • Employ a professional marketing consultant or market research company to do the research for you. A marketing professional will be able to give you detailed advice on the exact sort of information and surveys that should be carried out for your business. This will be more expensive, but getting things right at this stage can mean the difference between the success or failure of your business in the future! The Market Research Society ( will be able to advise you on experts in your area.

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