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Market Development Strategy


What is a Market Development Strategy


Market Development Strategy Definition

Market Development Strategy is a growth strategy put in place by companies or organizations to introduce their product or solution to target audiences they have not yet reached or are not yet currently serving. 

For example, let’s say your software company has a new product offering.

In order to come up with a market development strategy, you need to research who the new product would work best for, and the best way to target them — that, in a nutshell, will be your market development strategy. 


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Examples of market development strategies

Here are a few popular market development strategies:

Geographic expansion

One way to reach a new audience with your product is by geographic expansion.

For example, If you’re currently only targeting US customers, research what it might take for your company to expand your audience on a global level.

Or, if you’re currently only serving tech companies in New York City, research whether or not it would make sense to target San Francisco tech companies as well.

Upselling to existing customers

If all, or some, of your current customer base, could benefit from your new product offering, consider using your relationship with them as a gateway to introducing your new solution.

Attracting non-users

Along with (or separate from) upselling to current customers or clients, you can also develop a plan to target non-users of your product. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, including offering free trials, cold outreach, advertising, etc.

Attracting competitors’ customers

Who else is making a product like yours? And how can you convince their customers to migrate to you? Maybe you can adjust your pricing, offer incentives or discounts, use lookalike audiences in advertising, or deliver a superior user experience.


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Where does market development fall in the Ansoff Matrix? 

The Ansoff Matrix (often referred to as the product/market expansion grid) is a framework used to identify growth opportunities and conceptualize their risk level. It’s a fundamental framework used by businesses across the globe because it offers a simple yet intuitive way to visualize the feasibility of new ideas. 

Market development focuses on selling existing products into new markets, placing them in the bottom left quadrant of the Ansoff Matrix. This is the second least risky growth strategy in the Ansoff model. The only better growth strategy on the Ansoff Matrix is market penetration, which sees existing products introduced into an existing market.

Examples of market development strategies based on industry

Slack (SaaS)

Slack’s success as a communication platform for businesses was inevitable, given that it started as an internal company tool. They could rigorously test a live product without releasing it to the public. This was integral to Slack’s market development strategy, which revolves around using real user behaviors to guide their development and marketing efforts. 

By using real user data and listening to what users needed, Slack was able to make slight adjustments to its platform to bring in more users. 

Uber (SaaS/transportation) 

Uber started as a small business serving the residents of San Francisco. They focused on perfecting the service before branching out to new markets, making it easier to enter new markets once they were ready. Being able to bring a fully fleshed-out product to new markets, coupled with its unique diversification strategy, has helped them become the global powerhouse they are today.

NBA (non-SaaS/sports entertainment)

While the National Basketball Association is a powerhouse in the US, its international efforts have struggled. The mass global appeal of soccer made it clear that there is an appetite for sports worldwide, leading to both the NBA and NFL attempting to expand into international territories.

It took years of negotiations and significant resource investment for the NBA to bring the league to China, but it paid off. The NBA implemented its marketing development strategy to bring televised games to China, becoming the country's most popular sports league.

Starbucks (non-SaaS/food and drink)

Starbucks has a very aggressive market development strategy. With a solid business model and product offering, the company has focused heavily on entering new markets. They have focused on deep market penetration to ensure success by building a worldwide franchise. 

Things to consider when creating a new market development strategy

There are several factors to consider when determining if your company is ready to develop a new market development strategy for your product:

  • Is there a specific target audience (market) you’re not yet serving? Would this audience truly benefit from your new product offering?

  • Do you, or your team, have the bandwidth to develop and measure the effectiveness of a market development strategy?

  • Will your effort in reaching this new market be worth the investment from your company or organization? (What is the ROI?)

Benefits of a market development growth strategy 

Market development strategies are the key to growth.

While it can feel more comfortable for businesses to continue to cater to their existing niche customer base, it prevents any opportunity for scale.

A market development growth strategy helps businesses guide their efforts in a way that grows the business and drives market development.

This is achieved with proper risk management and in-depth market research to help avoid common pitfalls found when trying to grow a business.

Market development stages 

Before you start crafting a market development growth strategy, it’s better to understand the journey you have ahead.

There are four key market development stages. By following the stages, businesses can easily enter a new market and grow their business. 

Stage one: Define

Before a business can enter a new market, they need to know what that market is and who they need to target to achieve market penetration.

The first of the market development stages involves identifying the customer — that way, businesses can better plan their strategy using insights from the defined target audience. 

Stage two: Research

Of course, to utilize insights, you first need to find the data that can give you them. Businesses should perform thorough market research that relates to their customers and products.

This includes information on customer habits, competitor products, why customers use your competitors, and what those competitors are lacking.

Stage three: Weigh up your options

With all the information you need in front of you, you can make an informed decision on whether the market is worth pursuing. 

There will always be a risk to entering a new market, but by defining your audience and researching the market, you can lessen that risk by looking at a range of variables.

Stage four: Plan

If your research analysis shows potential, it’s time to plan how you’re going to enter the new market. This is the last of our market development stages and involves looking at how you will promote this new venture, how it will work, and how to continue to grow once you have established a presence in the market.

Common mistakes when creating a Market development strategy 

Marketing development is tough, and you’re bound to make mistakes. Here are some of the most common mistakes we see when creating a market development strategy:

  • Following trends and copying other businesses’ marketing development strategy 

  • Focusing on the wrong KPIs or ignoring KPIs altogether

  • Ignoring your customers

  • Failing to perform enough research

  • Creating overly complex marketing development strategies

  • Forgetting to include flexibility 

  • Not considering delivery

  • Not creating a go-to-market team


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What is a Market Development Strategy

General FAQ

What is the difference between market development strategy and market research?
A marketing development strategy helps companies to grow, by selling their current range of products and/or services to a new customer group. This may take the form of reducing prices to align with a different audience segment’s average budget, creating a brand extension, distributing through new channels, targeting competitor customers, or trying a new approach to generating leads. Market research is the process of gathering key data on audiences to identify valuable market segments and business ideas worth targeting. This involves conducting research into segments’ spending habits, their needs, their preferred purchase channels, major competitors, and any other relevant factors. This data can then help shape the market development strategy.
Why is it important to do a market development strategy?
A marketing development strategy is important because it helps a business grow and reach new customers in a planned, structured way. Expanding your audience creates the potential for more leads, more sales, and more revenue, but in-depth research is essential to make sure there’s value in targeting new customers.
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