geographic markets, customer demographics, and industries. “You would be surprised at the amount of competitive intelligence that CEOs and executives will reveal in a media interview,” Johnson says.
Data from the U.S. Census can be another good market research source for midsized firms, says Johnson, who when working with clients will often look at the current government data plus the five-year estimates, which can be broken out by age, gender, household income. Using that information, companies can quantify market potential for specific products and services, determine if there are enough qualified households in a certain geographic area, and figure out the viability of geographic expansion in those regions.
5. The Internet. The Web is loaded with people who want to share their opinions on products, services, specific companies and their experiences with those establishments. Knowing this, Boulder, Colorado-based Umbria Communications has built a business around “listening in” on social media sites such as MySpace and Blogger to ferret out valuable nuggets of market research for its clients. Recently, the firm worked with Del Monte’s Pet Food division to come up with some new product innovations.
By researching some of the top online social networking sites, the company collected pieces of conversation from pet owners and then looked for positive and negative threads within those conversations. Del Monte was able to figure out what was important to those pet owners. Traveling with animals, for example, was a big area of concern for those individuals. The manufacturer responded by developing a travel-friendly line of pet food packets, and by updating its Website to include tips for traveling pet owners. “They really took the market research to heart,” says Janet Eden-Harris, Umbria’s CEO, “and put it to work.”