Entrepreneurship – Market Insight

Conduct research for a small retail business.


An entrepreneur creates a new product or service and sells it in order to create a new business. A market researcher or analyst (usually an individual or contractor) helps an entrepreneur better understand how their product fits in the market. Market researchers may gather data on consumer demographics, preferences, needs, as well data on competitors. Professionals also analyze data using quantitative and qualitative methods and create summary reports.

Market insight is invaluable to entrepreneurs, because it provides an understanding of what drives purchase decisions. It can help change the product’s development. Market insight can also identify or change who the product will be sold to, the product’s features or benefits, and pricing.

The Process

  1. Perform a situational analysis – identify key aspects of the business such as current products, services, customers, competitors and pricing. This is referred to as secondary research, because the user finds existing data from internet research or libraries.
  2. Conduct primary market research – interview stakeholders (customers, community members) about the product or similar products via interviews, surveys, or focus groups.
  3. (Synthesis) Write a report with a summary of research and actionable recommendations.

The Exercise

Your Role:

You are an individual contracted by a small retail business to gather market insight. For this exercise, the business is a children’s bookseller in St. Louis, Missouri with a specialty in African American children’s literature. They are looking to expand into another city and would like information about the market in other cities to inform their decision.

The Scenario

To get started, please read this brief write up on the EyeSeeMe bookstore. Look for why customers buy this or competing products, why they are most interested in certain features and benefits, and why they buy in particular places (i.e., brick-and-mortar vs on-line retailers). This is the understanding of the consumer, the “market insight,” that you are trying to gain. This is where creativity, brought to bear on the data you collected, generates new insights into the customer, producing value for the start-up venture.

Task 1

(step 1) Perform a situational analysis to understand the bookstore’s products services, customers, community stakeholders, competitors, and pricing. This will provide Record your information in bullet points or a spreadsheet.

In conducting this secondary research, you may use internet searches, and government demographics. Research on similar products good way to find information if there isn’t much research available for the product.

Task 2

(step 2) Create a list of questions to conduct primary research. Primary research can be completed survey, interview or focus groups. For this task, select one of these formats and create a list of questions to gain information about customers’ motivations and buying habits or preferences.

Typical questions may include:

  • Why do customers use the bookstore?
  • What are the features and benefits of the store?
  • Who else might want these same features and benefits (new customers)?
  • What additional features and/or benefits might current customers want (new products)?
  • What new competitors might enter the market?

Ask yourself what other questions you might ask and investigate to understand the market better. In a real-world scenario, you may contact customers and conduct the interviews or focus groups (administer surveys) to gain information. For this simulation activity, you are creating the list of questions.

Task 3 (advanced)

Summarize your findings in a brief (1-2 page) report. You can also create a Powerpoint slide deck. The format and presentation will depend on the owner’s preference. This report is the deliverable for this sim.


Skills Used to Perform These Tasks

  • Research skills, including using a library and the internet
  • Verbal communication
  • Creativity
  • Thoroughness
  • Curiosity
  • Interpersonal skills

Skills Used in This Field

  • Critical/analytical thinking
  • Communicating & relationship-building with clients
  • Presentation skills
  • Time and project management
  • Persuasive communication
  • Effective writing for technical and non-technical audiences

You are viewing a job simulation. To get started, set up SMART Goals to perform this simulation in a reasonable timeline. If you have completed the task, fill out the Self-Reflection Sheet.

Simulation authors – Serena Solin, MFA, Thi Nguyen, PhD

Simulation vetted by Mary Brice, PhD, Gateway Venture Mentoring Service board member and mentor to non-profits and start-ups in the Greater St. Louis area.