Different types of Market Research (part 2)Industry Associations
Industry associations are a great way of getting to know your fellow business owners and managers in your sector, and the informal networking that can happen at these trade events will lead to you finding out more about the current trends in the sector. As a start-up, you might have difficulty joining these associations as a full member until you have had sufficient trading experience; however it is always worth asking if you can attend an event or two as a guest – remember, you are a potential ‘customer’ of the association!
These associations also tend to have trade journals. Although these are often simply based on press releases from their members, they can again provide you with a wealth of knowledge about your competitors.
Local Knowledge and Professional Advisors
There is a wide range of information that your existing contacts know, and all you need to do is ask them! Depending on how you selected your professional advisors in Chapter 4, you may find that they either know your sector or your local market. Try having conversations with other contacts that you have, this will allow you to pick their brains and gauge their feedback on your potential competition.
Often, a business has a unique slant on an existing product or service. A way to research what your potential customers may think, and to receive feedback, is to conduct a focus group meeting.
If you are looking at launching a product, it is vital that you actually test the product to ensure that the market has an appetite for it. Prototype testing allows you to do this at a relatively low cost, and can be offered as part of a focus group to allow you to receive group feedback on the product.
If you are looking at starting overseas, or to a new market which is completely unfamiliar to you, there are agencies that can help provide you with formal market research data. This data can be sourced from commercial organisations, or alternatively you can consult with UKTI (UK Trade and Investment), a government department which has been set up to assist UK businesses with exporting their goods and services.