Researching the market trends is as important as estimating the size of your current market. By knowing the trends that may affect the market in the future, you will know your business’s continuing viability, the available strategic opportunities in the market and the responses a company must use to adapt to the changing behavior of customers. With enough research, you can distinguish hearsay from fact and make informed decisions about your business. Research can be classified as primary and secondary. Primary research includes direct contact with the potential customers, whereas secondary research includes general market statistics such as census data.
Clarify your research objectives. Figure out the exact questions you need answers to. Approach each aspect of your market and include the potential customers, competition and industry. This will give you clarity about your questions.
Prepare surveys and questionnaires based on your research objectives. Work with focus groups, wherein you will provide a presentation or a demonstration to the potential customers and solicit their feedback. You can also conduct one-on-one interviews with contacts you trust. This will help you to understand your potential target customers, their preferred products and services, their preference toward marketing and distribution channels and the prices they can afford. You can create free surveys and distribute them with surveymonkey.com
Search through magazines, trade journal articles and reports from previous studies in order to identify the characteristics of your potential customers and their preferences. You must assess the demographic, geographic and other profiles of your potential customers. You can find detailed information about demographics through the U.S. Census Bureau website, census.gov.
Search through the competitor’s marketing materials and conduct a thorough internet search. Attend trade shows for your industry. Use networking websites to learn about the competition in your industry and get a feel for what people are saying about the company. This will tell you what products your competitors offer, what their prices are, how they distribute their products, who their customers are and will give insight into their competitive advantages.
Search in books, magazines and journal articles regarding the industry trends. This will enable you to recognize the industry standard practices, the latest trends in the industry and the future threats as well as opportunities. Magazines such as Inc. can give you a peek into possible avenues of growth.
Note similar patterns and establish a general trend. Write down ideas you see mentioned over and over through different sources. Look for businesses or companies starting to adopt the new ideas and evaluate whether they are successful with it. Use primary and secondary research to support the rationale behind the general trend.
Empathize with your customer to identify their feelings and thoughts about products, companies or industries in general.