Market research isn't something you do as a one-off when you launch your business. Business conditions change continually, so your market research should be continuous too. Otherwise you risk making decisions based on out-of-date information. This can lead to business failure.
Published information can provide useful insights into market conditions and trends. To find sources of market reports, see using market reports and other data.
As a growing business, your own experience can be even more valuable. You will be able to build up an in-depth picture of what customers want, how they behave and which of your marketing approaches work best.
Taking the time to talk to key customers pays off. Your suppliers and other business partners can be important sources of market information. You should encourage your employees to share what they know about customers and the market. See customer research: what you need to know and understand your customers' needs.
Effective IT systems can also make it easier to analyse key information, such as customers' purchasing behaviour. Read more about business growth: IT systems and processes.
You may want to carry out extra research as well, eg to test the market and customer reaction to a new product. You might do this yourself, or use a freelance researcher or market research agency.
Product and service development
As products (and services) age, sales growth and profit margins reduce. Understanding where your products are in their product life cycle can help you maximise profitability. You also need to invest in innovation to bring new, profitable products to market. See how to research and develop ideas, new products and services.
The more you succeed, the more competitors react to what you are doing. A market-leading offer one day may be no better than average a few months later. Loyal customers can be quick to find alternative suppliers who provide a better deal. By understanding your competitors, you can put your business in a better position to react to any moves they make in the market.