Monday, July 11, 2011

The Market Research Dilemma

Yesterday I got an inquiry from an entrepreneur I'll call Ruth. She is setting out to start an upscale health-services business in Toronto, and was looking for industry-specific market research to help her pick the best locations to target.

Sadly, her request was too specific for me to offer any immediate help. But I tried to steer her in the right direction with some general advice, which I'm happy to share with you, too. Here's what I told her.

Hi, Ruth. I wish you luck in your venture, but I am afraid I am not an expert in market-research sources for specific industries. I would think, however, that any neighborhood in the city with larger, more expensive homes (e.g., Bayview Village, Rosedale, North Toronto, York Mills, the Kingsway, etc.) would fit your target market, and that information is readily available through the press or the Toronto Real Estate Board.

For specific industry stats, you might consult sources like StatsCan or Scott's Directories. My suggestion is that you call a reference librarian at the Toronto Reference Library and tell them what you are looking for; they are very helpful and can probably point you to sources that you and I have never heard of.

Here are some ideas on sources to get you started:

And don't forget the potential of doing your own market research. There are lots of cheap ways to gain market intelligence using personal polltakers or online surveys. You could even look for friends or locals who live in target areas and ask them to hold a focus group for you to pick their friends' brains regarding demand for your business idea. Most entrepreneurs skip this step, even though it could save them so much grief (and money!).

Best of luck! Let me know how things go.



Dean Jones said...

Hey Rick and 'Ruth',

One of my favourite and most powerful sources of marketing research is what is called "Trade Magazines".

Almost every industry has a magazine, or in depth website which focuses on that industry. They usually contain amazing industry stats and case studies.

Also, many are free or very inexpensive - much less than hiring a market research firm to conduct research. In some cases this magazine is part of the membership dues you pay to belong to an industry association.

To find associations, look for the 'Encyclopedia of Associations' (Formerly called Associations Unlimited, this database is part of the Gale Directory Library.)

Hope that helps.

Dean Jones

Rent Calgary said...

It always fills great to find a post with all kinds of information , and that too true and useful.

Rick Spence said...

Thanks for the feedback, Dean and Calgary.
Trade magazines especially are an underused resource, so thanks for the tip. Do contact the publishers to see if they have back issues. Trade books are also useful for identifying the names of industry leaders and opinion leaders.