Wondering how to get started with your market research? We’re here to help with ten fun, easy and free ways to begin developing an understanding of your industry and key demographics. Note that while there are many other tools you can (and should!) use in your market research arsenal, from the U.S. Census for demographic data to SEM Rush for competitor analysis, we’re focusing on the tools that have the lowest barrier to entry and can provide meaningful information for fledgling business owners and ecommerce experts alike.
Google TrendsGoogle Trends is a fun little tool that displays a variety of data related to any search query you enter. Let’s say I’m interested in selling vintage clothing, and I want to know if interest in vintage dresses has grown or waned over time. After entering the search term and setting the time parameter for “Past 5 years,” here’s what I can start to understand:
Interest over time has held fairly steady, although we are seeing a slight decline today compared to five years ago. This could possibly be explained by shifting search intent; people are more likely to enter a specific dress they want or a vintage-inspired brand they already know than they were before. Those peaks you’re seeing happen every year around January 20; if you have any theory about why this is, let me know, because I’m stumped.We can also see that for some reason, the Irish really love vintage dresses.
The full list of related topics hovers around 20-25 and ranges from the helpful (we can find our target market on Pinterest) to the nonsensical (one of the related topics is, inexplicably, “Mermaid – Mythical Creature”). Based on this top five, we can see that there’s some crossover between enjoying vintage clothing and appreciating historical TV shows and classic fiction, so I know it’s safe to bust out my Maggie Smith memes on my store Facebook page. And thank goodness, because I have plenty. I can also spot a possible competitor on this list, BHLDN clothing.
Related Queries is similar to Related Topics, but it’s more keyword-oriented. Here we have a few popular brands that I could either view as competition or sell, and a style of dress (prom) that I should consider stocking.
Marketer’s AlmanacIf you want Google to take the guesswork out of trend-spotting and do the work for you, hop on over to their Marketer’s Almanac for a monthly play-by-play of trends and consumer behavior, often timed in response to major events or holidays. The Marketer’s Almanac can inform what you sell, when you post on social media, when you start marketing for each major holiday, and more. It’s also a fantastic way to build out your content calendar, as it highlights events you may be forgetting about (I always forget that for many people, Fall is synonymous with football) and points out trends you didn’t know about (summer is a peak time for home buying, so it’s time to bust out that “real estate realness” fashion piece you’ve always dreamed of writing).
The SERPsA faster method of spotting trends is, of course, the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) themselves. Google some of your keywords, scroll to the bottom, and note what else people are searching for:
This is a fantastic way to inform both your overall business strategy (plus sizes are popular) and your keyword strategy – you’re now looking at eight new terms that can seed your keyword research.
Neilsen My Best SegmentsThis is the one of the only tools on the list that requires a log-in (read: it costs money), but it’s worth it. If you already have an idea of some of your key demographics (say, I know that I’m looking for 25 to 30-year-old women with disposable income for vintage dresses), My Best Segments will work its magic and connect an array of data points together (shopping behavior, social media activity, location, etc) to build a complete buyer persona.
The Amazon Most Wished-For ListWondering what to stock next? Try using Amazon’s Most Wished-For list as a guide. The tool aggregates wish list data to show you what people want the most at any given time, and you can drill down pretty deeply based on what you sell. Here’s a peek at the dresses women are wishing for that sell on the platform:
A couple of these mean good news for me (look at all those vintage dresses!) and show me that I should consider stocking boatneck, 50’s-style items, dresses with peter pan collars, and ultra-comfy dresses.