Unless you’re the product manager of Time Machines Inc, It’s pretty unlikely that you operate alone in your industry. 

That means you have competition, which means that – no matter how many units you shift or subscriptions you collect – you’ll be splitting your industry’s market share with that competition. Even if that split is 100% to 0%.

Here’s the thing: understanding market share, and how to increase it, is vital in understanding your place in the wider industry. But it’s also the cornerstone from which businesses can build better offerings, since knowing where you stand can highlight how to improve. 

So, let’s talk about how to calculate market share of a product. In this piece, we’ll run through both the basics and the brass tacks of market share – and uncover what keeping a beady eye on yours can do for the future of your company. 

In this article, we’ll cover the following market share topics:

  • What is market share?
  • How to calculate market share of a product
  • Why is knowing market share important
  • How to increase market share
  • What product managers need to know about market share

What is market share?

Nice lemonade stand you’ve got there. We’d say, in fact, that it’s a lot better than the one your neighbor has across the street. And your sales data backs that up: you’re selling three cups to everyone that they manage to shift. 

Or, in other words, for every hundred cups sold, 75 come from your stand. And that means you’ve got a 75% market share in your neighborhood.

Market share, then, is the number of sales you command within your industry as a whole. In any given industry, the total revenue generated can be divided into the brands and companies that operate in the sector, and each sliver of that revenue is a percentage of the overall market share.

The higher the market share, the better a company is doing within its industry. Low market share, on the other hand, means that there’s work to be done.

But these things can and do change often, which is why market share is calculated not on an all-time permanent leaderboard, but regularly – usually quarterly or annually.

In essence: sell more than your competitors, and you’ll command the highest market share in your industry. 

How to calculate market share of a product

Knowing how to calculate the market share of a product or business requires two key data points: operational data from your company, and from the industry you operate in as a whole.

Typically, you’d look at revenue across a given period, like the financial year. But the exact metric you track – and the timeframe – is up to you. 

Here are the three steps to calculating market share:

1. Choose your metrics 

You might want to look at revenue from sales. You might choose to focus on customers. If you sell the type of product that absolutely every business needs to have, you might look at installs or active users. Whatever the case, you can only compare like for like when it comes to calculating market share. 

You also need to choose a time period – the year, the quarter, the month… It really depends on what your objectives are and what period(s) you can get accurate data for.

2. Gather your data

Next up, you need to collect the data that relates to your chosen criteria. That will be easy for you, but can be trickier when it comes to the rest of your industry (we’ve got a section on that below). Either way, you’ll want unified data for the whole industry, for your given time period.

3. Calculate your market share

In this example, let’s say you’re looking at revenue from product sales. The formula is simple: divide your revenue by the total industry figure, and multiply it by 100 to get your percentage.

As a super basic example, let’s say that your revenue for the year is $20 million and the whole industry’s is $100 million. You’d divide 10m by 20m and multiply by 100 to arrive at the answer: a 20% market share.

How to compare your market share against your competitors?

You can also look at how to calculate market share of a product relative to one of your top competitors. In that case, you’ll first perform the above market share calculation for both you and your chosen competitor brand. 

Then you just need to divide your market share percentage by theirs and multiply by 100. That will leave you with a percentage representing the amount of market share you command in relation to your strongest rival.

How do I find an industry’s total revenue?

Gathering external data about the whole industry can seem like a daunting task, but there are a bunch of sources you can turn to. 

Industry revenue figures are publicly available via market watchdog bodies like CSI Market, for instance. Business whitepapers and reports routinely publish verified revenue figures for multiple industries and sectors, and these are usually available for free so long as you don’t mind handing over your email address. Lastly, publicly traded competitors will publish their own FY earning reports on an annual basis – so you could always note all these figures down and combine them to garner a decent estimate of overall industry revenue.

Why is knowing market share important?

Calculating market share for a product is about much more than just being able to pat yourself on the back (or cry yourself to sleep). Sure, it’s a great yardstick for measuring your place in the market as a whole, but moreover, it’s a pivotal indicator of the tactics a company should be employing to grow the business.

In other words, having a small market share necessitates a different set of strategies than those used by the top dog. 

Companies with a smaller piece of the pie, for instance, will want to focus their efforts on building their customer base. That will probably involve doubling down on marketing and brand awareness to generate interest from fresh eyeballs, or really refining the product at the center of their offering. Companies on the other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, will have a proven product and a high share of voice, so their core business strategies should pivot to reducing churn and increasing customer loyalty. 

Beyond all this, increased market share is important because it brings its own set of benefits that can help things grow exponentially. 

Market share builds reputation, which means you can spend less time on marketing. Customers naturally flock to a market leader, after all, and that success can allow winning companies to enjoy greater economies of scale that, in turn, allow them to lower their prices. If you capitalize on it, market share can become an endlessly positive feedback loop. 

Famous market share examples

You can instantly get a feel for how market share correlates with proliferation in the public consciousness by looking at a few quick examples:

A market share winner | Nike

Nike currently has an estimated market share of around 50% in the athletic shoe space. When you consider that this is far from a two-horse race, that’s insanely impressive. It means Nike battles it out – and wins – against a huge range of competing brands (Adidas, Puma, Reebok, New Balance, Under Armor, Brooks, Asics, Hoke, etc.) who’re all vying for what’s left of the market’s other 50%.

Interestingly, that success is having positive knock-on effects on its operating costs. According to Statistica, Nike actually spent less on marketing in 2021 than in any other year in recent history.

A market share head-to-head | Coca-Cola

The whole Coke vs Pepsi battle has been raging for decades, but if you ask anyone on the street who’s winning, they’ll probably all say the same thing. In 2020, Coca-Cola held a 44% market share in the carbonated drinks industry, compared to PepsiCo’s 26%

But this is a hard-fought, endless battle – one that relies on a continuous barrage of brand-building marketing, rather than product innovation or pricing. In fact, in the mid-2000s Pepsi commanded a far chunkier 30% of the market.

A market share loser | Windows Phone

Remember this? Microsoft’s would be combatant against Apple and Google’s mobile juggernauts always had an uphill battle on its hands. But, by the time Microsoft finally pulled the plug, Windows Phone had only managed to attrite its way to a market share of 0.3%.

The death knell was that its low market share meant app developers were hesitant to spend time making apps for the platform, which put consumers off adopting the phones, which created a downward spiral. 

How to increase market share

Ok, so winning market share is synonymous with winning, period. But how do you actually grow yours? There’s a whole playbook of business strategies for doing that – just remember that the ones you choose to focus on should correlate with the vision and goals at the heart of your business.

Here are the basics of building market share:

Differentiate yourself

It sounds obvious, but pulling away from the pack is a clear-cut way to build market share over time. But how you differentiate your business should feel in line with its values:

Differentiate on price

Maybe you can gain traction by offering your products cheaper than any of your competitors. Many of the world’s biggest businesses (Uber and Spotify for example) decide to run at a considerable loss while they work on gaining market traction. Often, being cheap means being popular, and popularity often correlates to market share.

Differentiate on quality

Alternatively, set out your stall as offering a product that’s perceptibly, and undoubtedly superior to your competitors. That may mean being the most expensive on the market, but if you can back that up with quality, a reputation will follow. Just look at Apple as a great example of how being expensive has proved to be a justified strategy. 

Focus on the customer

As mentioned earlier, those with an already-high market share can bolster that lead by focusing on the customers they have, and working to turn them into lifelong ones. That might be through customer rewards programs, or prioritizing resources on customer service. But it’s also about listening to customer conversations where they’re happening, and proactively getting involved to turn detractors into advocates. Get people to stick around through memorable customer experiences, and they’ll recommend you to others.

Build your brand

Marketing. Marketing. Marketing. Build your brand with awareness campaigns that position your brand and product in people’s minds. If they can name you in an unprompted brand recall survey, you’ve done a great job. Market share can become a runaway train if people are inclined to think of you first when they think of a solution. Effective, consistent, and omnichannel marketing activations can get you there.

Make a tactical acquisition

If all else fails, make an offer. Ok, so that’s maybe a gross oversimplification of the dizzying prospect of business acquisitions, but an untold number of brands over the years have increased their market share and reduced their competition at the same time through a tactical merger or buyout of one of their nearest rivals. If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em. 

What product managers need to know about market share

“If you build it, they will come.”

No, not baseball fields for ghosts. Quality products. 

So, here’s the thing: market share is all about bigger. The bigger the number, the bigger your market share, the bigger you are, and the bigger you can celebrate. But bigger and better aren’t necessarily the same thing. And product managers need to be focussed more on better than anything else.

Luckily, chasing better tends to create bigger. In product management, the rule of thumb is that a quality product – with a clear USP and a robust roadmap – will speak for itself, causing the business to attract and keep new customers. 

Crucially, ‘quality’ here doesn’t just mean copying what your competitors are up to – even if they have monster market share. Maybe, instead, you can find avenues they’re not exploring, and customers they’re not servicing. It’s about bringing value, not features, in other words. 

Feature parity with your biggest rivals can come further down the line, but the priority for product managers, at any point on the market share ladder, is to focus on adding value for the customer. Do that, and word-of-mouth recommendations will follow – which is good news because word-of-mouth is pretty much the business engine behind supercharged PLG company growth

And, finally, that growth will swallow up market share. So, while having an eye on market share in and of itself is useful, product managers needn’t bring their heads above the parapet to look at it too often, because their product roadmaps should be driven more by audience need and value than by any industry happenings.

So, yeah: if you build it, they will come. And market share won’t be far behind. 

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