If you're launching a brand, a product, or a service, it pays to do market research first. You will minimize your risk by understanding market conditions, characteristics of your target audience, and the competitive environment. Here are six free sources you can use to research your market:
1. Online search
Entering the appropriate search terms (keywords) into Google, Bing, Yahoo! or other search engines will very quickly reveal sources of information. Google's free “Google Keyword Tool” can also be used for market research, because it analyzes competitive keywords and indicates the number of monthly searches on keywords on both a local and global basis.
2. Government information
A wealth of information is available from federal, state and local government sources, most of which can be accessed online.
The easiest way to access federal government information is through specialized search engines such as: USA Search, the official U.S. search engine - http://search.usa.gov/, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce gateway to government information - http://www.fedworld.gov/index.html and U.S. government science information - http://www.science.gov/
3. Business organizations
Various business organizations make valuable market research information available online. Local Chambers of Commerce and state and city Visitors and Convention Bureaus are useful sources, as are trade and professional organizations and associations.
4. Newspapers and magazines
Increasingly, print publications have migrated their content online. Even paid publications make a large amount of information available free of charge. Don’t overlook newspapers, magazines, and journals as part of your research.
5. Competitor websites
Getting information about product competitors is as easy as looking up their websites and Facebook pages. Pay particular attention to the information a competitor provides to investors. Also look in the newsroom or media section of their websites to gain awareness of new product announcements and product enhancements.
Libraries provide access to research sources in the form of directories and book collections that might otherwise be prohibitively expensive. They can also provide additional sources of online information that might not be commonly available, such as paid subscriptions to scholarly journals or information services.