Does a process exist for executing a market research?


Is there a good resource (book, blog, etc.) that would explain me step by step how to execute a rigorous market research? Where can I find market data such as market size, market share, etc.?

Any advice on the market research process is welcome!

Market Analysis Market Research

asked Feb 4 '10 at 17:36
Olivier Lalonde
2,753 points

1 Answer


Market research for anything but the biggest and best-covered markets (e.g., computer sales) is typically a painful process. In my opinion, there are a couple of different flavors to think about.

The first but probably less important aspect is the numbers you might want to put in your pitch deck or business plan - market size, share, etc. I'm not aware of any good reference on this entire process, but you should check out Aaron Patzer's presentation on some of the numbers he ran for Mint. Forrester, Gartner, and other similar firms are staples for tech market research. Also check out for non-tech markets. All the packaged research companies tend to have somewhat questionable numbers, but at least they're a starting point. Also note that they're very expensive for what you get.

Another good approach is to look at the annual reports and investor presentations of the big public companies in your industry. You can sanity check any market research numbers by doing a bottom-up analysis adding up public companies with a fudge factor for smaller players. My impression is that people tend to discount top-down market numbers (the classic "if we only get 1% of this market..."), so make sure to focus on the bottom-up numbers (what people call SAM, or Served Available Market, as opposed to TAM, or Total Addressable Market).

Finally, see if you can get access to investment banking analyst reports. Thomson Research/Investext has a great selection of these, and many business school libraries have relatively open policies on letting non-students use the library. Business schools also tend to have subscriptions to the academic version of

The second aspect of market research is understanding customer needs and behaviors, and I think at the seed stage this is much more important. All the usual customer development resources, like Steve Blank's Four Steps to the Epiphany, apply here. I won't bother rehashing all that stuff.

answered Feb 5 '10 at 03:18
339 points
  • Good info! I'm actually currently reading the Four Steps to the Epiphany and that's where the question comes from ;) The Customer Development Process often involves some market knowledge (especially in the Customer Creation phase) and I was wondering how to find that data. As you mentioned, market research data can be very expensive for a startup :/ – Olivier Lalonde 14 years ago
  • @Oli: A good workaround is to find an MBA student (or a team) who'll do a consulting project for you. Many of them are looking to change fields and need relevant experience, so you can either arrange for them to get course credit or get a reasonable rate. The best place to make this kind of arrangement is through the consulting, tech, or marketing clubs. The work itself can often be a bit rough, but they'll definitely uncover a lot of good info. – Greg 14 years ago

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