Why research your market

Statistics and other market research data help you make informed decisions when marketing your business. Market research helps you to understand your customers and their needs, as well as what your competitors are doing.

Read our steps for researching your market to get started.

1. Understand what market areas to research

Your market research should cover your:

  • customers
  • competitors
  • product or services
  • suppliers
  • business location and local area
  • industry

2. Use existing market research

You can research your market through primary methods including surveys and observation. Or you can use research that has already been done. For example, look for market reports, government statistics, and trade and industry association publications.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is a great source for marketing data. The ABS provides a number of services to small business including:

Other government agencies also provide industry statistics, including:

Search for additional government data on data.gov.au. Or find statistical information for your state or territory.

3. Research goods and services

Do your own primary research using surveys or interviews, or by talking to your customers and other businesses.

Research can help you work out where your products or services fit in the market and how they differ from those of your competitors. It can also help you work out:

  • positioning – whether your products or services are high-end, competitive or a low-cost alternative to the products or services offered by your competitors. Read more on positioning your business.
  • anticipated demand – the amount of products or services your customers are likely to purchase. For example, how much will an individual customer buy in 6 months or 12 months? 

4. Research your customers

You can collect customer data through email, online surveys, interviews, and talking directly to your customers.

This kind of direct customer research can help you discover:

  • what their needs are
  • what they're willing to pay for different products
  • the anticipated demand for your products.

Finding out how your customers think and behave (including their likes and dislikes) can also help you better target your marketing efforts.

Using existing customer data

If you've been in business for a while, you may already have tools and information on customers to use in your research. Check your:

  • customer relationship management (CRM) database
  • customer loyalty or reward program information
  • point of sale (POS) system and sales records
  • inventory management system
  • records of customer complaints, feedback or suggestions
  • reports on customer service benchmarks and targets
  • website statistics and traffic.

Example of using customer research

If your research shows that your customers are looking for an affordable, family-friendly restaurant, your business could cater to that need. Marketing is about working out what problems your business or product can help solve.

5. Research your competitors

You can collect competitor data first-hand through:

  • observation – adverts, sales, trade magazines, general advertising or site visits
  • networking
  • the internet – website, blogs and other social media.

You can use this competitor data in your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT) analysis when you develop your marketing plan.

Analysing your competitors can also help you understand where your business or products fit in the marketplace.

Questions to ask when researching your competitors

Consider the following:

  • Who are your competitors?
  • What do they offer their customers?
  • Where are they located?
  • What marketing strategies do they use?
  • How do they communicate with their customers?
  • Do they have an online or social media presence?