All businesses, large or small, need to know key information about their marketing environment, competitors, and target buyer/users. Smaller businesses may not be able to afford to purchase ACNielsen data for their industries at a cost of thousands of dollars per month. However, total market size, major competitors by category, and target buyer/user profile information is often available free from industry publications and trade associations.
The most commonly utilized external information includes:
The American Marketing Association (the "other" AMA) may be able to help you as well. Write to them at 311 S. Wacker Drive, Suite 5800, Chicago, IL 60606, 1-800-262-1150.
Even for new businesses, internal company data from competitors may be available by interviewing competitor company executives, attending industry trade shows, and asking the right questions from industry "experts." They may be unaffordable as consultants but willing to direct you to free databases that you would not ordinarily know of or have access to. And don't overlook your competitor's suppliers. They can be excellent sources of information to aid your research.
Here's a list of other free or low-cost external secondary research sources: