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Market Research

Identifying the Competition, Similar Products, and Opportunities

The objective of the SBIR program is to fund innovation research and development for the ultimate goal of commercialization. Companies need to be planning commercially BEFORE they write the first proposal. One piece of this planning process is to collect information. Market knowledge may be found through library and on-line research, telephone inquiries, retail outlets and catalog searches, securing product samples, networking with the SBIR agency and manufacturing companies and more. The following bullets are key questions that must be answered through your market research:

  • What are the different types of opportunities for my innovation?
  • How is the problem you identified being solved now?
  • Who is the end user?
  • What can you find out about the geographic, demographic and psychographic profiles of your end users?
  • Are there many end users or only a select few?
  • What are the different types of markets in which the product might be sold?
  • How do sales opportunities look?
  • What are the industry trends?
  • Is your end user a manufacturer, supplier, distributor, governmental entity, or private customer?
  • How does your end-user conduct business (e.g., direct sales, contracts, request for proposals)?
  • What industry standards or regulatory constraints might affect your concept?
  • Do you know which Standard Industrial Classification Code (SIC) or North American Industry Classification System (NAIC) code(s) fit your technology?
  • How Do You Answer These Questions?
  • Conduct a keyword search, using a search engine like Google.
  • Identify trade associations that relate to your innovation or invention. Go to their websites, review the site's content, and/or contact association staff.
  • Identify and review the web sites of your competitors.
  • Identify and read industry trade journals.
  • Conduct informal end-user surveys.
  • Interview end-users and marketing people at the manufacturing companies.
  • Review annual reports for the market leaders at the U.S. Securities and Exhange Commison
  • Identify Montana demographic and economic data at The Montana Department of Commerce Census and Economic Information Center
  • Identify national demographic and economic data at the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Determine which SIC or North American Industry Classification System (NAIC) number fits your technology
  • Use the Montana Manufacturers Inforamation System to find manufacturers in Montana
  • To identify North American manufacturers use ThomasNet or go to a library and use the American Manufacturers Directory.
  • Forbes is a good site to find articles and other useful business information.
  • National Technology Transfer Center provides information on commercializing technologies
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