Market Research

How on earth do you do market research for a creative product?

A little while ago, I asked some of my twitter girls their thoughts on market research for a creative business or creative product.  Some of them asked me to clarify what I was asking, others gave me an answer and others weren’t really sure what to tell me.  I was a bit surprised to be honest.

I thought they would all have great ideas, tips or blog posts they could direct me to.  But the most common answer was actually “I don’t know”.

So I thought I would share my ideas on market research with you based on what I’ve learned from the books, workshops and courses I’ve done previously.  And how I’ve done my basic market research for my creative product before I started spending money to build and develop it.


If there is a magazine for it, there is a demand for it.  I was taught that in a workshop I did a few years ago.  For my creative product, I looked at the magazines that have the type and style of product that I want to create.  In the 14 years I have been doing my creative thing, I have seen magazines come and go.  I’ve seen others come and expand and develop and grow.  My favourite is Somerset Studio.  They have grown from a magazine with a staple in the middle to a bound magazine twice as thick and they now have a huge range of magazines branching off into different areas. They also have signature products, an online store and YouTube classes.  They wouldn’t have grown to this level if there wasn’t a demand for what they were offering, so I know the style of product I want to create has a potential market.

Other Artists

If they can do it, you can do it too.  I’ve seen new artists emerge and turn their art into a business.  I’ve seen those businesses launch.  I’ve seen them grow.  I’ve seen them change direction.  I’ve seen them build a following.  All of them have their own style and have grown a following around that.  We’ve all seen artists work that we didn’t like but they have had a huge following and a thriving business.  The fact that other artists are building a business around their art or art products shows there is a demand for that style of product. 

Artists like Kelly Rae Roberts, Traci Bautista, Lynne Pereella, Michelle Ward, Claudine Hellmuth all have signature artwork that they have developed into a business as well as branching out into writing books and magazine articles, teaching classes & workshops, appearing on TV and having a signature line of products.  They would not be doing this if there wasn’t an audience that wanted it.  And the businesses backing their signature products will have done a significant of (expensive) market research before investing their brand and products into these artists.

Other creative businesses.

Where did they start?  Don’t just look at businesses with where they are now, but look at where they started too.  If you’ve been doing “your thing”  for even a few years, then you will have seen new businesses launch and you will have seen if they have done well or if they failed.  You will have seen them grow and develop over time.

If you look at Tim Holtz for example, when he first launched his signature product line with Ranger, he had two inkpads.  And both of them were black!  He has since grown that into stamps, a huge signature line of ink pads, scrapbooking products and supplies.  All from 2 little black inkpads.  If people didn’t love his products, if they didn’t sell well, then companies like Ranger and Stampers Anonymous would not be growing his signature range within their brand.  The size of his range of products now shows there is a demand and huge growth within this area.  Another promising sign that there is a market not only for creative products but an expanding, branded range of products.

Retail stores.

What is on the floor?  Retail stores devote square metres of their store to what sells.  The bigger the area devoted to a creative product, the more popular that item is.  Retail stores want the best return on investment for their floor area.  If a product isn’t selling well, it doesn’t get a prime position or a large area in the store.  So next time you go to a store that stocks things similar to your “creative thing”, look at what they have in their store.  What gets the best position?  What gets a large amount of shelf space at eye height?  That’s their big seller.  That’s their most popular products.  It works in supermarkets , it works in clothing stores and it works for stores selling your ‘creative thing” too.

Online groups.

Where are the crowds?  Look at online groups like Yahoo Groups and search for your subject.  You will see all the groups with that subject come up.  Some of them have thousands of members.  If there are 100 groups with at least 1,000 members in them – that’s 100,000 people that could be interested in what you have to offer.


Show me the money (and the customers). Over the years of going to various craft shows, I’ve seen the companies that will be super busy all day.  The ones where it is hard to get into their booth, no matter what time of the day you go.  And there are other businesses who are not doing so great.  Pay attention to the businesses that are run of their feet.  I know the shows I’ve been to, it has been the high quality cute style and the really arty companies that have been running hot.  Make sure you look at what is selling too.  Some booths may have lots of lookers, but not many buyers.  Other booths are selling their stock like hot cakes.  Lookers and buyers are two very different things.  And you know you want buyers.

How do you do the market research?  If you’ve been doing your “creative thing” for a while, you have probably know all these things already, you just don’t realize that you know it.  I’ve noticed all these things in the lead up to my creative business.  To this moment in time.  I haven’t done it all in a week.  I think because I have wanted this for so long, I have been looking really closely at these things for a long time.  I’ve made a point to notice every time I’ve gone to a craft show.  Every time a new artists arrives on “the block”.  Every time someone announces a new project on their blog or launches a new product.  And each of these things has reinforced for me that there is a market out there that is potentially interested in my “creative thing”.

I hope these ideas have helped you and that you can use them the next time you are at a craft show, in your favourite store or bookmarking a new artist blog you have discovered.  And that they give you the signs you need to help you decide if there is a market for your “creative thing”.

♥ Coral.

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2 Responses to Market Research

  1. Great advice. As you say lots of things you do instinctively, but some new ideas too. Thanks I will be checking these out.

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