Uncertainty breeds questions, conflict, and hesitation… and we are living through extremely uncertain times. The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is far-reaching and impacting virtually every industry in the U.S. and around the world. So, while market sizing during COVID-19 may seem unfitting, it is crucial to surviving the current crisis.
As we collectively work through these uncertain times, fundamental questions about our economic future, as dictated by the coronavirus-induced market contraction, come to mind:
- Which industries and industry segments will be most impacted?
- Which industries have the most to gain in the post-pandemic future?
- How much has our market, and those we supply to, contracted (or grown)?
- Are we in better or worse shape than our competitors as we work to rebuild or core business?
In consumer-facing markets, with accessible point-of-sale data, it can be easier to understand the market dynamics and forge a path forward. However, in B2B markets, with complex value chains and little, if any, published or available industry data, understanding market dynamics is more challenging.
Given the economic uncertainties at the moment, knowing both the size of your market and your relative share of that market have never been more important. Did you “weather the storm” better than your competitors? Are you positioned correctly to grow in the new market landscape? These are critical questions to answer as you evaluate your strategy exiting the coronavirus situation. Further, capturing expert insights as means to understanding the potential growth of your market, and where that growth likely will occur, will help develop a strategy plan.
With this in mind, we thought it important to refresh on a fundamental market research technique – determining the size, share, and growth of your market. Now, even more than before the pandemic, it is critical to employ a triangulated research approach and reset your position using these baseline market insights.
Triangulated approaches rely on three primary sources of data and market insights:
Top-down insights typically begin with an exhaustive review of published articles and reports to provide preliminary intelligence on rapidly changing markets and what is being sold (hence “top-down”). In some markets there may be published studies or industry or government data available. However, in most B2B or B2B2C markets, very little secondary information exists. Consequently, in-depth qualitative interviews with industry experts and value chain participants are required to capture market insights and develop a high-level understanding of market size, share, dynamics, and trends. In today’s rapidly adapting business environment, expert respondents have a finger on the pulse of current market conditions and can provide invaluable insights into industry drivers, competitor activities, M&A activity, and overall market conditions. An 80/20 focus on both companies and trends provides confidence that the insights gathered are relevant and accurate. And, the good news is that we’re finding these experts actually have more time to be interviewed in most cases and are seeking human interaction, just like the rest of us during these locked-down times.
Bottom-up insights focus on what is being purchased and can be captured through a survey of industry participants including decision makers, purchasers, and users of the product or service. The insights gathered provide an understanding of how purchase incidence, spending habits, brands purchased, channels used, and many other volumetric variables are shifting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective survey design ensures that only qualified respondents are included in the survey through robust screening criteria, accounting for “zeros” (factoring in both non-purchasers and infrequent purchasers) and includes extensive security and quality control measures to instill confidence in the final dataset. When paired with top-down insights this provides a balanced perspective on sales and purchases.
The final leg of triangulation approaches is competitive intelligence or benchmarking. Too often, companies neglect to capture competitive insights and rely too heavily on their internal/tribal knowledge as a proxy for this perspective. However, competitive benchmarking can provide valuable intelligence into several areas of interest: how competitors view the market, their revenue, their perceived share of the market, key growth initiatives and other valuable market insights. Ethical and industry approved competitive intelligence techniques are used to ensure confidence in the legality of the insights gathered. During times such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to keep an eye on your competitors and how they’re responding to and weathering the storm.
What you knew about your markets likely has been disrupted and market volatility due to the coronavirus pandemic may have created a blind spot in your market intelligence. Updating your knowledge by using a triangulated approach is essential in order to position your company for success during this uncertain time, stay ahead of your competition, and enhance your growth prospects as the economy recovers. The reality is that now is the time to get ahead of your competition through careful, triangulated investigation of the shifting markets. Knowledge truly is power.
As JFK wrote, “When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity.” It’s wise to understand and prepare for both.
Want to learn more about how to increase your market knowledge? Contact us – we would be happy to provide further explanation of the market sizing techniques we use and specific examples of market size research we have completed. Also, check out our webinar about market sizing during uncertain times below: