How to Write the Market Analysis Section of a Business Plan
The market analysis section of your business plan comes after the products or services section and should provide a detailed overview of the industry you intend to sell your product or service in, including statistics to support your claims.
In general, the market analysis section should include information about the industry, your target market, your competition, and how you intend to make a place for your own product and service. Extensive data for this section should be added to the end of the business plan as appendices, with only the most important statistics included in the market analysis section itself.
What Should a Market Analysis Include?
The market analysis section of your small business plan should include the following:
- Industry Description and Outlook: Detailed statistics that define the industry including size, growth rate, trends, and outlook.
- Target Market: Who is your ideal client/customer? This data should include demographics on the group you are targeting including age, gender, income level, and lifestyle preferences. This section should also include data on the size of the target market, the purchase potential and motivations of the audience, and how you intend to reach the market.
- Market Test Results: This is where you include the results of the market research you conducted as part of your initial investigation into the market. Details about your testing process and supporting statistics should be included in the appendix.
- Lead Time: Lead time is the amount of time it takes for an order to be fulfilled once a customer makes a purchase. This is where you provide information on the research you've completed on how long it will take to handle individual orders and large volume purchases, if applicable.
- Competitive Analysis: Who is your competition? What are the strengths and weaknesses of the competition? What are the potential roadblocks preventing you from entering the market?
7 Tips for Writing a Market Analysis
Here is a collection of tips to help you write an effective and well-rounded market analysis for your small business plan.
- Use the Internet: Since much of the market analysis section relies on raw data, the Internet is a great place to start. Demographic data can be gathered from the U.S. Census Bureau. A series of searches can uncover information on your competition, and you can conduct a portion of your market research online.
- Be the Customer: One of the most effective ways to gauge opportunity among your target market is to look at your products and services through the eyes of a purchaser. What is the problem that needs to be solved? How does the competition solve that problem? How will you solve the problem better or differently?
- Cut to the Chase: It can be helpful to your business plan audience if you include a summary of the market analysis section before diving into the details. This gives the reader an idea about what's to come and helps them zero in on the most important details quickly.
- Conduct Thorough Market Research: Put in the necessary time during the initial exploration phase to research the market and gather as much information as you can. Send out surveys, conduct focus groups, and ask for feedback when you have an opportunity. Then use the data gathered as supporting materials for your market analysis.
- Use Visual Aids: Information that is highly number-driven, such as statistics and metrics included in the market analysis, is typically easier to grasp when it's presented visually. Use charts and graphs to illustrate the most important numbers.
- Be Concise: In most cases, those reading your business plan already have some understanding of the market. Include the most important data and results in the market analysis section and move the support documentation and statistics to the appendix.
- Relate Back to Your Business: All of the statistics and data you incorporate in your market analysis should be related back to your company and your products and services. When you outline the target market's needs, put the focus on how you are uniquely positioned to fulfill those needs.