It is crucial to know your market. Let’s say, you need to evaluate the volume of your local and global market in order to prepare a product launch or to develop a product strategy. Read more on this topic in my article "Start Up Your Startup Properly: TAM, SAM, SOM". But market research very often is too expensive to outsource it or there is no time or resources to conduct it in-house. So, what to do in this situation?
In my mind, analysis of open sources will be the best solution in this case. Open sources search will provide you with tons of information, if you follow two simple rules:
Rule 1. Do not underestimate the power of open sources.
Rule 2. Use the capabilities of your search engine by 100%: explore all the possibilities of advanced search, learn how to make competent search queries.
Useful links to improve your Google search skill:
Here is the list of open sources you should focus your search on:
1. Industry Analysts (e.g. GFK, IDC, Nielsen, Bloomberg, etc.)
Along with a large selection of payable detailed market research reports, these companies regularly publish press releases and reports available to the public.
Often, market figures and analytics are available publicly for a short period of time, after that public access is terminated.
Therefore, Tip 1: It makes sense to monitor on a regular basis relevant news from industry analysts.
2. Industry Media
It also quite frequently happens that market information does not go from industry analysts directly to their websites available for free access, but is provided to industry journalists and bloggers instead. And they, in turn, publish this information in the form of authors' analytical articles on the market situation of a particular product or service.
Thus, Tip 2: Constant monitoring of sectoral media is vital.
3. Market Leaders Press Releases and Reports;
In many markets and in different industries there is a widespread practice that market leaders (top 3-5 companies) regularly publish press releases on their own success. In many countries, if the company is public, it is obliged to release public quarterly and annual reports for investors, where you can find a huge amount of information about the company's business activities: legal, financial, marketing, etc. These reports and press releases usually contain, among other things, the following information: the number of products sold (units or/and revenue), sales plans and forecasts, vision of market trends, and sometimes even disclosure of a product strategy.
Tip 3: When studying an annual/quarterly report of the public company always keep in mind that public companies very often embellish the real state of things (using various legal methods) in order to impress investors (or not to upset too much), as it makes a significant impact on the price of their shares.
4. Industry Experts’ Interviews, Articles and Posts
In each booming industry there are always entrepreneurs (as a rule, they are also top managers and owners), who determine the direction of their industries' movement for years or even decades ahead: Henry Ford, Akio Morita, Raymond Kroc, Howard Schultz, Gordon Moore, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and many others. Such people, being the undisputed opinion leaders give interviews to leading business magazines, TV journalists and online media, publish posts in social networks or in their blogs. Follow your industry experts’ open sources to be able to get information about your market (figures, trends, technologies coming, products and services development ideas, etc.)
5. Existing and Potential Customers
It is incredibly important to be in contact with your customers to be able to hear their opinions about your product or service. Almost every customer will gladly tell you a lot of information about your product or service.
If your product or service is on the concept stage, find an opportunity to discuss the idea of your product with potential customers (feedback will be even more valuable, if you demonstrate a working sample).
The most interesting in customers’ feedback, for example in the context of market volume assessment (SAM and SOM), are: price elasticity, average (expected) number of purchases per month, brand loyalty, ease of switching to a competitor's product or to a substitute product.
Tip 4: However, remember that the opinions of five, ten or even a hundred of potential customers may not correspond to the perception of your product by the whole market. There is always such a risk, even if individual in-depth interviews (yes, there is a special marketing term for such talks with customers) were conducted according to all the rules. In practice, there were cases of product failure despite the fact that studies (focus groups and individual in-depth interviews) have predicted success. For example, a textbook case that occurred with the Coca-Cola company: their professionally designed market studies, that covered almost 200,000 (!) consumers, predicted success of the new product. Nevertheless, the product failed.
6. Channel Partners
The opportunity to negotiate with your potential distribution channel partners becomes available from the moment you manufactured a working sample of your product. At this early stage, you can gather feedback from your potential channel partners. Depends on the planned length of the channel and what kind of product you have, it can be distributors, wholesale intermediaries, retail online and offline stores, corporate clients, state institutions and other types of channel partners. This open source may give you the most relevant information for your SAM and SOM forecast: how many units of your product can the partner sell and for what period, what price he is interested in and why, what marketing support is needed and so on. However, be prepared for the fact that the first question your potential partner will ask you after he become familiar with your product: do you have warranty service centers in the cities where our stores / customers located?
Tip5: Your potential distribution channel partners are commercial companies, so be prepared for the fact that they will try to maximize their benefits, for example: understate the purchase price and the volume of potential sales/purchase, overstate marketing support amount and the like.
Always keep an eye on your competitors: what product portfolio they have (track possible changes), at what prices (track possible changes), how they promote and market their products, what channels of distribution they use, watch their geographical coverage and expansion into new regions, etc.
Study their news, press releases and public reports, if any.
It’s not a secret that searching and analyzing information from open sources is often underestimated by marketing professionals. In my opinion, well-established regular work with open sources can provide quite enough information to justify companies’ business decisions (getting back to our example: to evaluate the volume of your local and global market in order to prepare a product launch or to develop a product strategy), significantly saving the marketing budget and forming, by the way, a sense of a market through rational reasons: market facts, figures, calculations and analysis.
I suppose that in this article you have found a useful idea about how valuable can be open source data analysis in development of your product strategy or in preparing your product launch. If you need more information on how to build your marketing information system or the wise advice on launching a new product, please contact TWA Consulting right now.