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Best Online Tools to Validate Market Potential?

Google Keyword Planner (from Google Adwords) is one of my favorites tools to quickly find out if an idea has sufficient demand (i.e. big enough market).

But what about products or services that can not be easily identified by keywords?
(example: before iPad came out no one was searching for 'iPads' or similar devices; unknown products like this gem art;etc. - so essentially a keyword tool would fail if one was to rely on it for market research)

What online research tools would you use in such cases?

7 Replies

Roger Wu
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Roger Wu Entrepreneur
co-founder at cooperatize, native advertising platform
This seems like a "faster horse" situation, in that your potential customers might not know that they need your product until they need your product. I'd suggest (and I'm biased, look at my bio) doing some type of sponsored storytelling of WHY people might want to use your product. Continuing the analogy, I would tell a story of how I was able to travel to the stately city of Philadelphia from New York in the amazing time of 4 hours whereas usually I would need a fortnight, I needed 20 gallons of kerosene instead of 100 tons of hay, and I didn't even have to clean up the manure. (I have no idea about how horses work, just made this up). And if the story held, well then you'd have your validation.
Eleanor Carman
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Eleanor Carman Entrepreneur • Advisor
Incoming BLP Sales Associate at LinkedIn
Chris - great question. There are a lot of previous discussions on this topic. Sometimes it's helpful to do a quick search on the topic before posting. Additionally, you can follow these topics so you're notified when updates occur and/or useful info is added.
Stephen Campbell, PMP
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Project Management Professional
Why not ask your target market? www.aytm.com

Chris Co
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Chris Co Entrepreneur
Web Developer & Growth Hacker
Thanks guys for the input, but my question is not about market validation, its about gauging market size, and preferably with an ONLINE tool that can return reliable quantitative data.

Sites that provide 'survey' types of services are not any where close to a keyword research tool in reliability, because unlike people searching on Google, talking on social media, or paying for kickstarter campaigns, surveys do not provide 'real intent to buy' data.

Talking to people in person and asking them to pay for an idea is too inefficient, and that will never provide the market size estimate either.

And the reason I emphasize market size is because even when the idea is validated but the market size is not big enough, it's still no good to build a business around it.


Roger Wu
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Roger Wu Entrepreneur
co-founder at cooperatize, native advertising platform
Chris, that's an interesting point. This comes back to "The Innovator's Dilemma" by Christensen. Investors will ask you "the question": How big is this market? Most entrepreneurs think they need to show a huge market here TODAY. If this is a huge market the second question pops up: Why can't ____ (fill in the blank huge tech company) do this?

Ideally you want a market that is small today that most of the big companies ignore (because when the total market is $100m and you are Google that's not worth your time). However, this market will grow to become 500X in 5 years and you have positioned yourself as the market leader. (See Operating Systems in 1980's, PC's in 1980's, Search Engines in the mid to late 90's, Social Networks in the mid 00's, 3D Printing for consumer before that, and Christensen's example of disk drives).
Gil Allouche
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Gil Allouche Entrepreneur
Founder @ Metadata
To analyze SaaS product market cap - you can use Datanyze. To do general estimations -- you can use Gartner/Forrester But one of the ways I like to validate/assess the market potential is to base it on other players in the market - competitors or partners. Gil | metadata.io
Luke Szyrmer
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Luke Szyrmer Entrepreneur • Advisor
Forward-Thinking, Creative Software Product Manager and Author
Chris,

Google trends is the best you can get. I'm not sure how you want to find the market size of anything, if no one is even aware of the product/product category. Particularly if you are looking for buyers. The market is still in the early phases of its life cycle.

Your best bet is to look at display advertising of the demographics who might respond to interruption marketing. In that case, these aren't people who are likely to buy immediately. You can make them aware of the product based on your followup strategy. Roger Wu's suggested approach is probably the closest you'll get.

What this comes down to is whether or not you have the budget, endurance and risk appetite to be a pioneer. And also you have to pick the right trend to jump on also. Think VHS vs BetaMax--in the early days both looked the same. The tech was comparable. But VHS became more popular so BetaMax faded out in relevance.

So to answer your original question, if there are few google searches for relevant terms, the current market size (of buyers) is small. The question is what market will be big in 5 years, which no online tool will tell you for sure. You're better off really understanding your target customers and choosing your target niche well, to minimize your onboarding cost and plan how you want to sequence the acquisition different adjascent niches...
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