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Published November 16th 2016

The Complete Guide to Market Analysis

Market analysis involves researching the market to understand the threats and opportunities. This post outlines what to research and how to get the data.

If you are serious about winning any competition, a little knowledge can go a long way in helping to prepare yourself. What are the rules? Who is competing? What’s the prize on offer? This information can help maximize your chance of winning, shaping how you prepare and the tactics you use.

In business, market analysis provides answers to these sort of questions. It gives brands a wealth of information so that they can maximize every part of their operation to ensure the highest chance of connecting with customers and beating the competition.

What is market analysis?

Successful brands need to have a solid understanding of the landscape they operate in, including knowledge of their competitors and customers. Market analysis is the process of researching the market to understand the threats and opportunities and how prospects and clients will react to your products or services.

Market analysis can range from an in-depth research dive employing specialists who will cover as many aspects as possible. Alternatively, brands may adopt a simpler approach using more readily available data.

What should the research include?

Market analysis can examine all or some of the following points:

  • Market size and competitive analysis – How large, and how competitive, is the market? Who are you competing against?
  • The growth of the market – Does the market have a history of growth that is likely to continue into the future?
  • Market trends – How is the market changing? What are the most important factors going forward?
  • Demographics and segmentation – Who are you selling to? There may be sub-categories within the market, allowing multiple product lines.
  • Market profitability – There are several factors that affect profitability, and each industry will have different margins. How attractive is your market?
  • Key success factors – The elements that will produce success in the market. This could be technological advances or access to resources.
  • Distribution channels – An analysis of the current and potential distribution channels. How does your distribution model affect your business?
  • Industry cost structure – The fixed and variable costs that the brand incurs. This can be further broken down by products, region, and so on.

Why conduct market analysis?

Market analysis should underpin your business plan. Once you have an understanding of the market, you can plan out how best to beat the competition and reach the consumers.

This map of the landscape will then allow you to plot your course, optimizing factors that are within your control. These factors are the marketing mix, known as E. Jerome McCarthy’s 4Ps.

Product — Your product can be improved based on market trends, what your competitors are doing, the different market segments you are trying to reach, and your key success factors.

Price —The industry costs and market profitability, as well as a more detailed understanding of your competitors, will help you set the right price that keeps both customers and shareholders happy.

Place — The understanding of your distribution models, combined with a better understanding of the market, may be able to highlight new opportunities. From new sales opportunities with franchises and resellers to the logistics of production and distribution.

Promotion — Brands need to have different marketing strategies to effectively reach different demographic and geographic segments. This may include different product lines or differentiated marketing.

Data sources for market analysis

You can and should use a mixture of sources, both primary and secondary. The wider your variety of sources, the more detailed and reliable a picture you will build up. It’s good practice to include a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods.


Primary research


A survey may be one of the more traditional methods of market research, but one that works extremely well. The big advantage is being able to author your own questions, and at a degree of scale (compared to a focus group for example).

Surveys can be conducted in person, by telephone, or online. SurveyMonkey is probably the most well known and popular online survey software. Professional market research companies can conduct telephone or in-person surveys. Each method carries its own bias, which has to be accounted for when analyzing the data.

Surveys can help to provide the quantitative insights for market analysis, understanding consumer views on a larger scale.

Workshops and focus groups

Bringing different types of customers into a workshop can bring some qualitative insights into the research mix. Asking open-ended questions allows you to gain deeper perceptions, opinions and emotional responses to your brand, product or service.

Twitter recently launched a service that turns 12,000 users into a quick research panel, allowing brands to gauge what a cross section of consumers thinks about a particular issue. The service offers focus group insights at speed and without using the same level of resources.

surveys can be useful for market analysis


Your customer-facing employees should have unique insights into what prospects and customers think of your brand.

Salespeople, account managers, shop assistants and customer service representatives will all have stories from the front line that can add to the qualitative research.

CRM and sales data

CRM and sales data will help you flesh out some of the research, although you will need to be aware that this nature is naturally inward facing rather than market facing.

Still, it can be good to look at brand growth and market growth in context. Demographics, probability, key success factors and distribution channels may all be augmented by this data.

Social intelligence

A big strength of social data is the flexibility it provides, in part by allowing granularization of data through segmentation.

Competitive analysis is possible through a range of techniques, including measuring share of voice. Discovering relevant trending topics can not only help you understand the direction of the market but also which segments are driving which trends.

Social media research can reveal different audience groupings. Demographics, psychographics, geographic and other audience segmentations can be easily undertaken, either automatically or by human-led segmentation.

Listening to both brand and market-wide conversations can help you understand which channels your audience are on. While not a help in physical distribution of products, this is useful for maximizing distribution of content and finding previously unknown channels.

market analysis using multiple data sources

Secondary research

Secondary research consists of existing research that is publicly available.

Consultancy or research firms may have published industry data or surveys that can help your market analysis without necessarily answering your specific questions.

Despite the restrictions, secondary research can be very useful for an overview of the industry. Particularly useful is the scale of respondents often involved in such research, which may be out of reach of most brands. Bringing in this type of research will give your primary research findings context.

Understanding the market in this way should allow you to identify areas to improve upon, weaknesses in your competitors, and knowledge about your customers and prospects that will improve your marketing.

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