Market research requires a combination of primary and secondary research. This can get expensive, but with resourcefulness in gathering data: statistics, market share, pricing and competitor information; and organizing and analysing findings, market potential can be estimated in a relatively cost-effective way. For example, though commercial market research reports are expensive, some companies allow searching to find relevant content within a report and purchasing only that part of the report. In addition, government data is a good source of statistics and demographic data. The social web is also a good source of competitive information.
Here are a few free resources:
MaRs, in Toronto, helps startup companies build financing plans and identify sources of capital, and it provides business incubation services to client companies to help them bring products and services to market. MaRs primarily works with entrepreneurs in the following sectors: Information Technology, Communications & Entertainment; Clean Technology; Life Sciences & Healthcare; and Social Innovation. Its Startup Library is relatively new, but a great place to look for market research, trends and reports.
Contains statistics by industry and has industy profiles and analysis. The site contains a number of tools as well: for example, a small business can review financial performance benchmarks against other SMEs in some sectors of the Canadian economy.
This site provides detailed market research for a range of industries. Though tailored for New Zealand companies doing business in key markets around the world, this has relevance to companies in Canada and elsewhere.
This is a Canadian government site that has links to pages describing the process of conducting market research, as well as to databases and sources for statistics and market information.