Saturday, October 8, 2011

Estimating our target market

So now I've got a small t-shirt shop running with 25+ designs on a nice (and quaint) little website.  The thing is, we appeal to such a niche market that it's unlikely we'll ever get to be a major t-shirt design company.  We appeal to people who like brains, people who like cells and cell membranes, people who like math and corny math jokes, people who like zombies, people who program computers, and people who play games like Starcraft.  But let's see, how niche is the market actually?  Let's try to estimate how many people these shirts might appeal to.  We'll keep it "simple" and stick to the science-y crowd to begin with.

Let's assume that the people who will most likely buy geeky t-shirts range from approximately 18 to 35 years old.  Let's also assume the people who will buy the t-shirts on this site are interested in biological sciences, medical sciences, engineering, computer science, and mathematics and are probably pursuing a degree (at least bachelors) in one of these fields.  We can now break down the population (from 18-35 years old) into their respective educational attainment and look at the percentages of the subpopulations in these fields.  So we get something like:

#People in related fields = (#PhDs * (%PhDs in related fields)) + (#Masters * (%Masters in related fields)) + (#Bachelors * (%Bachelors in related fields)) + (#College and HS students interested in related fields)

By looking at the 2010 Census data for educational attainment in >18yo people, we see the breakdown looks as follows:

in thousands Some College Bachelor's Master's Doctoral
18 to 24 years 10693 2505 155 14
25 to 29 years 4310 5338 1182 96
30 to 34 years 3442 4502 1592 277
Total 18445 12345 2929 387

Now, to determine what percentage of these degrees were involved in what field of study, let's look at some other data.

The black bars are for bachelors degrees from 2008-09.  If we take the percentage of the fields of interest from this, we get 28.48% of all bachelor's degrees.  We can do the same for the other degrees by looking at the appropriate data.  For master's degrees we get 49.27% and for PhDs we get 60.10%.  Let's assume that the distribution for people pursuing a bachelors degree is the same as for those with a bachelors degree.

If we now plug this all into our equation, we get that the # of people 18 to 35 who are in the fields of interest is 10,445,308.  Or 10.4 million people.  Now this is only people who are in the related field, but not those who buy geeky t-shirts.  That's an even smaller percentage of this whole thing, and a number that's very hard to estimate.  Let's just say 2% of the people in this population would wear a geeky t-shirt.  So, our total market is approximated at around 208,906 people.  Keep in mind, we made a lot of assumptions here, many of which are probably off if not completely wrong, and we've ignored many different age groups including those people less than 18.

But to put this 200K number in perspective, there are over 100 million dog/cat owners and about the same number of people who have strong enough political opinions so that they vote.  My measly 0.2 million is small fry compared to the pet owner/politically passionate market.  The trick is go get every one of those geeky, sciency, techy people to buy a shirt or five.  Piece of cake.

It's either that, or I'll start making "Kitties for Romney" and "Doggies for Obama" shirts.

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