Market research is an essential step for any new startup. Identifying and understanding your customers and competitors will help you to determine your competitive advantage and help your business stand out.
In this blog post, we will discuss strategies for researching your customers and competitors using resources offered by the Naperville Public Library. These resources can be accessed by visiting one of the library’s three locations or from the NPL website with your library card number and PIN.
It’s important to understand your customer base before you start up. To help you better understand opportunities and limitations for gaining customers, use library resources such as Reference Solutions and Gale Business: DemographicsNow to locate demographic data for your target market, including age, interests, income, and spending habits. In addition, interviewing potential customers is crucial for understanding the needs and pain points of your target market; this blog post includes some best practices.
In order to get a good sense of your market, the Small Business Administration suggests using the information you gather to answer the following questions:
- Is there a desire for your product or service?
- How many people would be interested in your offering?
- What is the income range and employment rate?
- Where do your customers live and where can your business reach?
- How many similar options are already available to consumers?
- What do potential customers pay for these alternatives?
In addition to understanding your customers, it’s important to know what your competitors are doing. Use library resources such as Reference Solutions, Gale Business Insights: Global, and Market Share Reporter (available via the Gale Directory Library database) to identify your competitors and learn about the market landscape. According to the SBA, your competitive analysis should assess the following characteristics:
- Market share
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Your window of opportunity to enter the market
- The importance of your target market to your competitors
- Any barriers that may hinder you as you enter the market
- Indirect or secondary competitors who may impact your success
For more information about this and other topics, consider registering for the NaperLaunch Academy workshop series or scheduling a one-on-one appointment with a business librarian or NaperLaunch coach.