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Tony, thanks for sharing your ideas on market research.

My product is jewellery – until now I had been going ahead without very tight guidelines. I was making “attractive” jewellery within the price bracket I thought would suit my target market. I did run them by family and friends and the feedback was all good… I think it was a matter of “yes, its attractive”…. but no one added on the “but I wouldn’t buy it” or the reasons they wouldn’t buy it.

I’m now wanting to be more focused on what I make and aim for a niche market – I hope to specialise in ancient symbols, ancient mythology etc and expand my product range beyond jewellery. If I move into this niche I don’t think my family or friends can be of much help because it falls outside of their area of interest and knowledge.

I have thought about finding people on forums and perhaps at local events (if there are any “mind, body, spirit” type events that come up) and asking if they would mind doing a survey.

I think the hard part comes when you try to compare what you want to do to similar businesses. The only other businesses I’ve found that cater to this niche with the same type of product are online businesses in other countries. Even if these businesses would be willing to share information they are operating within a different culture and different economy. If feedback I have got from some forums is correct some products sell a lot better in places like the US than they do in Australia.

Tony, do you have any advice on how to approach other business people operating in a similar field? From forums I have been following for years in the jewellery/metalwork/art field I get the distinct feeling that those that are approached by another person about their business feel very threatened and automatically believe that this person is trying to get all their secrets so they can copy their product and sell for less than them which will cripple their business.

Also… I have been wondering… Is there any way to know if someone who operates a website is making a full time, part time, or no income from the products they have on the website? I have looked at etsy (http://www.etsy.com) and it is an interesting site because you can look at a sellers history which can tell you exactly which items they sold and when – it doesn’t maintain the price in the history but by comparing to their current items for sale you can make a good guess. I found it interesting as it shows that for some people its a very viable way of making some money… however, from the forums you can tell that those making a living are doing more than just their etsy store – so looking at an etsy store doesn’t tell the whole story.

Tony you have provided some good advice for starting points… I think overall my main reservation with collecting information is that I worry about breaching general ettiquette. After writing what I’ve written here I’ve paused and thought am I being defeatist? I mean – you’ve given me avenues to research and I’ve mentioned problems I see with some of them… I think in reality what could help me a lot is advice from others as to what is seen to be acceptable in dealing with other businesses and trying to conduct research and what would be seen as being rude. I’d really like to be able to make friends with people within my field rather than enemies but think that could be really hard if we get off on the wrong foot by me crossing a line whilst trying to find answers.