5 Free Government-Supported Resources for Market Research
They say that nothing in life is for free–especially when it comes to the government. But, in support of small business, the U.S. government does offer a wealth of information to help get you pointed down the right path. What better way to complete market research than to use the largest and most official databases on consumers, industries, and economic conditions?
Check out these websites and resources so you have all the free information you need to make educated decisions about the direction of your small business. Just don’t forget to thank Uncle Sam when you’re done.
1. Understand Your Customers and Demographics
Creating a comprehensive customer profile is one of the first steps to truly understanding what consumers want. The U.S. Census Bureau has the largest collection of data concerning Americans, their jobs, their households, and even the way in which they spend their free time. You can sort data based on demographics: location, household income, age, and family to help identify key patterns and trends in your geographical location. This information is invaluable when creating and marketing to a specific customer profile.
2. Focus on Economic Indicators
Is it a good time to start a business? Are there bigger trends at play that could explain a slow sales cycle or a banner month? Keeping an eye on U.S. economic indicators can help you better understand the forces that affect your business. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics offers a daily cache of data concerning the economy, from employment cost to consumer prices, earnings, and employer outlook. Keep up with the latest news and numbers so you can test the economic waters carefully.
3. Get to Know the International Marketplace
Even when you’re planning to operate your company in the United States, international supply, pricing, imports, and even economy can affect you stateside. Ensure you know what’s happening on a global scale and collect data based on industry using Business.usa.gov. The site is updated daily with reports, numbers, and trends on an international scale.
4. Consider Employment Statistics
Employment statistics do more than just tell you current numbers. Employment also dictates economic growth and solidity, as well as consumer pricing indexes. Utilize the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ Current Employment Statistics as a method to help you take the temperature of the economy to decide whether it’s a good time to launch, increase marketing, or even roll out new features.
5. Create a Competitive Analysis
Good market research shouldn’t just be about potential customers, but potential competitors as well. Becoming an expert in your industry means knowing what other companies are offering similar products and services in your area, so use the Census Bureau’s page for business statistics as a barometer for competition based on industry and specialty.
Market research doesn’t have to be expensive. If you’re willing to do the legwork, you can find plenty of government-based resources to help you get started on the cheap. Armed with the latest data and reports, you can check “market research” off of your to-do list to move forward with your business initiatives.