Market orientation, how can you increase it?

market orientation

Gaps in the market exist. However, the better question is, is there a market in that gap? In other words, are there consumer needs that haven’t been met yet? If so, the next question is whether there are enough consumers in that gap to draw up a marketing plan and increase your market orientation. 

Table of contents

Gaps in the market

Gaps in the market are the unfulfilled needs of consumers. Holes that no competitor or organization has spotted yet. However, you don’t know that. It is very well conceivable that a true entrepreneur did spot that gap as an opportunity at first glance, but after the market analysis decided it’s not worth trying. 

So, you never know who is right until someone tried it. That’s why you have pioneers who decide early to fill that gap and launch their product in that market. In contrast, the more cautious manager chooses to enter a successfully filled hole or new market, as runner up avoiding first mover costs. But make no mistake, with the right market orientation, the 100% entrepreneur can create a market. 

Opportunities lie on the street, but you have to bend for it.


Steven Jobs succeeded in creating a market with rapid sales growth for the iPad. A product no one needed it at the time. It had to be there first for consumers to see that it made their life easier and funnier. He created a market for the tablet. So, what didn’t appear as a gap in the market, suddenly became a market for that gap. 


You can’t ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.

Steve Jobs

Have you ever experienced that you urgently needed to go to the toilet, but there wasn’t anything close by? At least nothing decent and clean. So, instead, you waited it out until you were back at home or your hotel. I am almost sure that you experienced it. 

A very distinct gap in the market that has been there for a long. Until now. An excellent market orientation example of two employees who experienced this gap themselves and decided to jump in that gap. They invented 2theloo, the ultimate toilet break experience. But not after careful market analysis and a sound marketing plan.


I remember well when I wanted to start my own company during my studies. My friends laughed at me when I told them that I was going to market an entrepreneur test and that I would do a Ph. D. on it. I was surprised at how entrepreneurs were judged and become based on gut feeling alone. You should know there was no entrepreneur test yet. Not even in the scientific literature. 

My friends responded: “Why do you need an entrepreneur test if you are already an entrepreneur or know you want to become an entrepreneur?” But that is not what I intended with it. How can you assess and develop someone’s entrepreneurship? My friends are smiling at me now. More than 1,000,000 entrepreneurs (in the making) have already gained insight into their entrepreneurship and grown their businesses.

To conclude, gaps in the market will always be there due to changing customer needs. That makes entrepreneurship so dynamic and exciting. However, it could also happen that there isn’t a market in that gap. So, it would be best if you did not pursue that market opportunity. Sometimes the market needs to be created first before success becomes possible. Customers need to learn how the new product or service can improve their lives. And, even then, there could be a need, but there is not enough demand. So, customers want the product or service but are unwilling to pay for it. So, try to foresee not only the customer’s needs but also to estimate the demand and how many competitors offer the same supply.

What is market orientation?

Market orientation refers to the ability to visualize existing and potential customers’ needs and linking them to your company. Successful entrepreneurs anticipate the specific needs of a clearly defined target group. They can also indicate accurately what their competitors do. They follow developments reported in magazines and trade journals strictly and talk with customers to foresee changes in the market. 

Less successful entrepreneurs barely have an eye for the needs of their customers. They frequently have a product orientation, a production orientation, and a strong focus on innovation but yet no definite group of target customers in mind.

Customer orientation is your ability to feel and know the needs of your (potential) customers. And, the ability to translate them into consumer products, services, and business operations, which in the end leads to customer satisfaction. 

However, sometimes, you enter a new market or have a new product or service that makes it impossible for you to estimate or research what the market demand will be. So, that puts more emphasis on your marketing orientation, as well as your sales orientation. In that case, you need to trust your intuition. Remember, your gut feeling knows more than your mind can think of. 

How to increase your market orientation?

How do you know if there is a market for your product or service? If you should jump into that market gap? Whether the market is ripe for it, and people gladly pull their wallets out or not, you need to stick out your market feelers. How do you do that? 

Tips to increase your market orientation: 

  • Take time to talk to people on the street. Even if it is not a potential customer. If you can’t explain why certain people need your product or service, you better stop. Because if they are not your potential customer, they probably know someone who does!
  • Test a demo or dummy of your product or service with potential customers. Don’t be afraid people won’t like it or give negative feedback. That’s when you learn the most. Just do it!

Do you feel you’re failing? See it as feedback that you need to learn from.

Dr. Martijn Driessen
  • Don’t have a product or service to show yet? Even then, go out on the streets and start talking to people about your marketing plan. When you convince people of your marketing concept, you also have a more potent customer value and profitability.
  • Find out what they think, want, and what their complaints are. That’s how you discover their needs and you should base your marketing strategy on.
  • Stay open to their opinion, even if it is opposed to yours. It is not a fact, but their experience with your product or service. It helps to prevent customer retention.
  • Not everyone will become a customer of your company, and perhaps it is for the better. You can not deliver superior value for all.
  • Be aware of your own filter. The way you view your product isn’t the way your customer is viewing your product or service. 
  • Take a different perspective on your products and services. Find more useful tips and strategies on the innovative mindset.

Know your market, know your customer, but also know yourself

Dr. Martijn Driessen

Read more about the difference between skills, abilities, knowledge, and competencies.