I touched on this with the post about competitive intelligence. But now, from a little different perspective, I’ll .
I would first want to know what industry analysts think of the industry in general, and how they define product categories. These opinions and observations are probably more impartial than your own, and may be more from a consumer’s eye view. There are publicly-available reports from Standard and Poors, Hudsons, Dun and Bradstreet as well as research materials from investment brokers.
And there are government publications, particularly census analyses, with valuable information from which you can gain insights of value.
For instance, I was researching the market consulting market for a software company awhile back. I was able to determine from a Department of Commerce table within the census data that the turnover of marketing consulting firms was significant – about a third of them close their doors every year while about the same number of new consultancies are formed. I infer from this that a lot of these firms, mostly one-person establishments, are marketing people “between jobs”. That helped my client estimate a much smaller market for his $600 software.
It’ll take some time just to find what government info is available, then some more to determine if there’s relevant and important information you can apply to your branding strategies. But a couple of hours with a good gov docs librarian will probably be worth it.
This blog is intentionally vague about the plank’s content. The shape of the industry to which you belong may be words apart from your neighbors.
Same with product categories. Attempt to get a feeling about product categories from your customers and prospects as well. They may define categories entirely differently than you do. And then pay attention to what your competitors say about the categories they occupy.
My admonition is to include a plank that addresses industry size, shape, momentum and direction. And then do the same with product category if possible. It may provide you with the insight to make your offering both more unique and more appealing to your market. In addition, it should help you make more accurate and insightful projections of future potential.