How can I determine potential market demand?


I would like to determine the potential market demand for a non-software, travel product that requires significant up-front capital for manufacturing.

What open source software, if any, would you recommend?

How would you utilize social networks for market research?

What offline or "off the web" research, if any, would you do?

Thank you.

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asked Oct 15 '09 at 23:47
Val Lynn
483 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

5 Answers


Here's a low-cost way:

  1. Set up a single page that describes the product.
  2. Include a sign-up form that says "Leave your name and email and we'll get back to you when it's ready (no spam!)"
    • If you need free form support, use Google Spreadsheets with Forms, or
    • Contact me directly because I know of another startup doing remote forms which would probably do it for free just for the reference.
  3. Put up Google ads on the keywords you would use for this business.
  4. Also try social media avenues (separate problem).

Why this is awesome on multiple levels:

  1. You get a direct measure of interest level.
  2. You could try different messages to see what things are interesting.
  3. You get a pile of beta tester names!
  4. You get to test your ability to attract attention from potential customers. If you can't get them to a page, you'll have trouble selling anyway.
answered Oct 15 '09 at 23:57
16,231 points
  • Thank you Jason for laying this out so well. I can implement this tonight and start driving traffic to it. – Val Lynn 14 years ago
  • +1 for _If you can't get them to a page, you'll have trouble selling anyway._ – Atul Goyal 13 years ago


I like using Google Insights to gauge market interest of a product.

Here's my thumbnail guide on google insights:

Point your browser to: Type in a search term that you might use if you were searching for your product. The results basically give you statistics on searches for this term. They can be broken down into category (by industry or market), timeframe or geographical location. You can also use the tool to view related search terms.

For example, plug in the term "child's guitar" and you will see that the graph shows huge spikes in November and December for the last five years in a row. It's a good bet that this is a popular Christmas gift.

Contrast this with the results for the phrase "guitar lessons" which shows a bumpy, but steady decline over the last five years along with flags from events in the news that contain the same phrase (for example, Lindsay Lohan apparently wanted to take guitar lessons from Slash this August).

If you assume that much of the time when people are interested in a certain type of product, they will "google it", then you can use this tool as a gauge of interest in your product.

I also really like Jason's idea about using a web-based sign up form.

In addition to that, if you can find a similar product, I'd try to contact someone who is related to the business--maybe someone in the supply chain--and see if you can get any tips.

For example, one of my friends started a business selling leather furniture. He contacted and visited the tanneries and they told him all kinds of information about who buys from them, where they ship their leather, what the demand trends have been, etc. This gave him tons of useful info and he was able to figure out how to differentiate himself by using higher quality raw materials (which created less waste), finding more reliable labor (because he knew where the majority of his competitors had their raw materials shipped), etc.

Let me know if this helps.

answered Oct 16 '09 at 03:16
Del Putnam
1,031 points
  • Del, thank you. Google insights coupled with their keyword tool is an excellent suggestion for getting a broad overview of potential market. At the very least I can use this to determine the cost of running ads to drive traffic to the page. I'm not decided on doing this, though, as I think it is premature. The "product" is not software, is not ready to sell and will require design and testing prior to manufacturing. More cogitation on the use of Adwords to drive traffic is necessary. – Val Lynn 14 years ago


LinkedIn and Facebook polls are also low-cost ways to gather some market research, though not as efficient as survey, because it's one question at a time!

answered Oct 16 '09 at 05:41
Amanda Mc Guckin Hager
36 points
  • Thank you Amanda. What do you think of using Facebook and LinkedIn to drive traffic to an open source survey hosted on our site? – Val Lynn 14 years ago
  • Getting the viewers to your site to take a survey is an obstacle. I think it might be challenging, given that your display ads need to truly convey "What's In It For Me?" to the viewer. That can be hard with a small ad and limited copy. However, it's not impossible. Start with a small budget, and try 2-3 versions in a short time frame. Test, test and test! Good luck! – Amanda Mc Guckin Hager 14 years ago


Based on your web site link I would probably start going to the usual airshows with some mockups or just a poster. Also try talking to some of the aviation bloggers/podcasters out there. (Email me if you need some links)

It is a hard industry to make money in and the usual players are getting hit pretty hard. (you probably know all this already)

To answer yourquestions specifically:

  • The softwre doesn't matter. Use what works. It also depends on what kind of software you are looking for (spreadsheet, email programs, CMS?
  • Twitter of course might be useful for you - be sure to follow other aviation related twitter folks. Start posting on or other similar places where pilots and enthusiasts hang out.

You might try asking a developer to make a plugin for the popular flight simulator programs out there so people can fly it on their PCs.

  • Go to NBAA, AOPA, EAA and other events. Talk to people int he aviation industry. Talk to Scaled Composites (if you can get someone to call you back). I suspect it is a pipe dream based on the manufacturing industry right now. Not only are you building a new plane, you are kind of creating a new market - those two are hard to handle by themselves, but when taken together and also combined with one of the most heavily regulated fields in the US and large capital requirements it will be a challenge.
Go for it if you think ti will work. Good luck
answered Jan 10 '10 at 14:48
Tim J
8,346 points


That's easy. Just track your competitors and even indirect competitors. If they can make good money or if they are able to attract attention, then possibly you could too.

A simple online way to do this:

  1. Find out top keywords using either or just go to other similar websites and see their keywords etc.
  2. Type that keyword in Google and you'll get top listed sites. Check their numbers - age, traffic per day etc. Try this -
  3. Compare these numbers with something that's already established and receives attention.
answered Oct 17 '09 at 03:01
Arpit Tambi
1,050 points

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