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Gain clear insights to inform a successful business plan for your startup.
Determine the goal for conducting your market research by creating a list of the objectives you want to accomplish and the potential roadblocks and challenges you want to identify in your research.
Many startups fail because they do not accurately research the demand versus the competition for their idea, which often leads to the release of a product in an over-saturated market, or with no existing consumer interest for it.
Some goals for conducting market research likely include:
- Identifying the right audience and position in the market for your product or service.
- Scoping out your competitors.
- Pinpointing customer pain points, so you can create a solution to circumvent them in your product or service.
- Discover opportunities to improve your product or service before putting it on the market.
For example, the goal of your market research might be to identify the unique selling point that will help your startup idea stand out against competitors and attract potential investors.
Choose the market research method that will help you achieve your goal. Consider using free or low-cost methods to keep any out-of-pocket startup costs low.
There are several ways to conduct your research online, such as using a social listening tool, searching for survey participants in social media groups or online communities, or compiling secondary market research from online sources like Google’s Consumer Barometer or Statista. The specific method you choose should depend on your startup budget and the depth and specificity of the information you need.
For example, you could use a free account from a social listening tool like Hootsuite to monitor public conversations that relate to your startup idea to gauge interest and potential demand, or you can glean in-depth information about in-demand products to sell on Amazon with a paid tool like Jungle Scout.
Use a tool like Google Trends or a similar keyword research tool to research the popularity of search queries that relate to the products or services your startup is planning to put on the market.
Certain search trends can reveal where there may be an over-saturated market, a high interest, or an underserved gap for a particular product or service, which can give you a clue about how viable your startup idea will be for the current market. For example, if you find that there is very low search volume for keywords relating to your startup idea, there is likely little to no demand for the product or service, and you may need to pivot your idea to target a more in-demand service.
Research the competitors in your industry to identify what features and benefits you can add to your product or service to provide unique value that is not currently available on the market.
Research competitors’ websites and review what they’re offering on their products or services page. What features and benefits are they highlighting for their own audiences? Create a list and record the main features that your competitors are advertising for their products.
Look for additional benefits you can add to your own product or service that would make it stand out against your competitors and position your solution as the more valuable choice to customers.
Leverage a tool such as SEMrush or UberSuggest to scope out the typical audience of your competitors, what their top-performing web pages are, where their web traffic comes from, and what keywords they rank for.
For example, with UberSuggest, you can review the keywords and estimated traffic that your competitors are receiving. You can even use it to identify the Keyword Gap between your domain and your competitors, which identifies specific keywords they rank for that you don’t, highlighting opportunities for your brand to start optimizing for those keywords and compete.
Compare what you find from several competitors’ websites and customer reviews to identify what features are typically covered for that product or service and what customer pain points tend to come up with the existing solutions on the market.
Look for customer feedback on competitors’ products and services that are comparable to your own through forum posts on Quora or Reddit, reviews on Google, Facebook, Amazon, or Trustpilot, or software review sites like Capterra, GetApp, or G2 Crowd which critique the software services in detail.
Define the ideal target audience that your product or service will appeal to and benefit.
From your keyword and competitor research, you can begin to identify specific demographics and groups of people who might be interested in the product or service your startup plans to offer. Consider what types of problems and challenges people would be trying to work through that could be resolved with the help of your product.
Be as specific as you can when defining your target audience. Consider the demographic and psychographic identities they might fall under, such as age, gender, location, occupation, hobbies, interests, income level, and more.
Use the knowledge you’ve gained about the potential market demand, target audience, and competition for your startup idea, and write market research survey questions to conduct a study that will help you determine how your product will be received by your target audience.
Now that you have an idea of the existing demand for your startup idea, who it might benefit, and what the competition looks like on the market, it’s time to conduct your own research to support your product or service ideas.
For example, you might compile a list of questions such as:
- What is your first impression of this product or service?
- What is the biggest challenge you face with [customer pain point]?
- Would you consider this product or service to be worth the price?
- What features of this product or service stand out to you the most?
- What is something you feel this product or service is missing or could be done differently?
Find participants for your market research survey through social media groups, or online forums and communities.
Leverage free social media platforms and join Facebook groups that your target audience might be likely to hang out in. Another helpful place to find your target demographics is by searching Subreddit communities on Reddit. Be sure to adhere to each forum’s specific community guidelines to make sure you’re not breaking any rules by recruiting people for market research.
Conduct your market research survey and analyze the results.
Review the results from your survey participants and compare the data with the information you collected from your keyword and competitor research. Does your survey data line up with your previous research? Are there any disparities or gaps that have been revealed by comparing your findings side-by-side?
For example, if your keyword research suggested there was a high demand for your startup idea, but your market research survey suggested little interest among your target audience, you may need to adjust the product features to better serve the current target audience.