Market analysis and research are critical for start‐up businesses and should be a key element in the business plan; however, this is not solely for new businesses. Accurate assessment of the market and development of an effective plan are critical to the success of both new and existing businesses.
Market analysis involves both a broad study of the business environment and market forces, and in an in-depth examination of the business, competitors and customer base in order to understand where each is today and where each will be in the future.
Market research is defined as systematic gathering of information regarding customers or potential customers to use in planning for and operating a business. To be successful in business, you need to understand what your customers want and need, what price they are willing to pay and what their buying habits are. You need to understand what the competition is doing, what direction they are moving and how they are reaching customers. And you need to understand your industry, what the business trends are, and what opportunities and threats are looming on the horizon.
Market research is used in business planning to determine the feasibility of a business idea or a business location. It’s used to show investors and lenders that financial projections are reasonable. It’s also used to develop a pricing strategy and to build advertising campaigns that reach potential customers. Market research is used to identify new opportunities and reduce business risks. Without market research it’s difficult to identify trends or potential problems in your industry.
Market research is divided into two categories. Primary research is conducted from scratch and often gathered from direct contact with customers. Secondary research is market research that’s already compiled and organized for you, and it’s available from a variety of sources. Government agencies can provide a wealth of information about economic conditions, trends, disposable income and the regulatory environment. Industry associations, business periodicals, academic institutions and other businesses collect and analyze research data about business trends.
The Oregon Small Business Development Center Network recently introduced a new market research service. The Southern Oregon University Market Research Institute can deliver in‐depth, applied market research to OSBDCN clients around the state who have established businesses that are poised for rapid growth and job creation. A market research team of graduate researchers and faculty advisors at the SOU BizCenter will compile In‐depth market research reports based on the specific needs and industry sector of BizCenter business clients. The institute’s research databases can provide a wide range of data and information including industry trends and forecasts, competitive analyses, customer demographics and characteristics, and much more.
Most of the institute’s services will be offered at no cost, although more in‐depth and customized research will be fee based. To utilize the services and database resources of the Market Research institute, owners of small businesses must first meet with an adviser at the Chemeketa Community College Small Business Development Center (SBDC). In addition to the databases that can be utilized by the Market Research Institute to assist established businesses that are poised for growth, your local Chemeketa SBDC also has tools available for businesses at other stages, including start‐ups and pre‐venture clients.
Researching your market is an ongoing process in successful business. It can be as simple as asking customers how they found your business or what other products and services they would be interested in purchasing from you. It can be as complex as creating a fullscale survey and analyzing the data collected using statistical analysis. Developing a strategy and selecting the research techniques you will use to gather market research data can be challenging. The team at the Chemeketa SBDC is ready to assist you in this process and help you navigate a path, creating a roadmap for future growth.