Ship to Share

Ship to Share


Share Analysis 

Planning is a critical function in any business. Banks need a business plan outlining your plan before lending capital. So do venture capitalists when they seed new start-ups. Business planning is not just a one-time thing; it needs to be done annually if not more. 

A business plan derives from a market plan, an understanding of the market you are in and your position in that market. The profitability and the feasibility of your business largely depend on: 

  1. Size of the market and its rate of growth 

  2. Share of the market 

  3. Effectiveness of the marketing plan to keep or grow the share 

  4. The efficiency of operations to generate a healthy margin on sales 


Market Planning vs. a Marketing Plan 

Market Planning is the process of analyzing the market and calculating your share and competitors.  

Whereas a Marketing Plan is a tool used to increase your share of the market through activities such as advertising, branding, and promotions. 

A key component of Market Planning is market share forecasting. In the manufacturer-retailer-consumer model, what matters most is the shelf take-away or sales at retail. Marketing Strategies aim to maximize shelf consumption (and usage) and thus increase your share of that consumption. 

The first step is calculating the total market potential for your products. The second step is to estimate your retail sales and derive your share of the total market. The third step is to forecast your base case market share as well as target market share considering your advertising budget and your marketing plan.  


Estimating the Total Market 

Let us use the case of an infant car seat manufacturer to illustrate this process. 

As a baby seat manufacturer, you need to understand the total market potential both in units and dollars. Let's say that the entire population of infants is your market. If two million babies are expected in a year, the market for infant seats is 2m units. However, some of the households may be two-car households and decide to buy two seats. If 50% of the households buy two seats, then the market is really 3m units. 

Now, what is the market potential for infant car seats in dollars? It depends on the price segments of car seats. There may be different types of car seats with different features commanding varying prices.  

Let us assume that there are two kinds of seats: one being a simple no-frills car seat and the other a fancier seat with additional features like a cup holder, sunshade, diaper holder, etc. Different consumer segments may demand these car seats at different price ranges. 

We can apply several market analysis techniques to understand price points and calculate the average price of these two market segments. Let us say our studies show the average prices to be $40 for the basic seat and $50 for the fancy seat. 

The total market potential in dollars is the sum of the basic seat segment and the fancy seat segment. Suppose the basic seat segment is 2M units.


Price = $40 Potential = ($40 X 2M) = $80 M 

The fancy seat has 1m units, 

Price = $50 Potential = ($50 X 1M) = $50M 

Total dollar market potential = ($80M+$50M) = $130M 

Estimating Market Share 

In simple terms, market share equals total retail take-away divided of your products by the total market potential.  

This is just a calculation of your share of the total retail sales. 

Your total retail sales depend on which segment you participate in and who the other players are in that segment. Retaining and growing your share depends on a number of marketing factors including product differentiation, advertising, brand value, etc. The size and the marketing budget of your competitors also are key determinants of your market share. 

In our example, let's say, you compete in the basic seat segment of the market. If you own 50% of the basic seat market: 

 Total annual retail sales = (50% of 2M) = 1M units  


Compared to a total market of 3M units, your share of the infant car seat market is then 33.3%. 

We can calculate the dollar share using the following steps: 

  1. Your retail dollars equal your retail unit sales times your average price.                                    

  (1 M units X $40) = $40 M 

  1. The total dollar market potential is $130m (calculated above) 

  2. Your dollar market share is then $40m over $130m which is 31% 

Although your unit share is 33.3%, the dollar share is 31% because you play in the low-price segment of the market. 

How can you retain or increase your market share? 

The Marketing Plan outlines the strategy to increase your market share. It may cover a number of strategies and techniques with the budget allocated. 

Generally, the following tools are used to retain/gain market share: 

  1. Advertising and Sales programs to increase unit share while keeping prices constant 

  2. Building Brand Value to move to the high-end segment of the market. This will result in higher selling prices without hurting unit sales.  

(In our example, you may be able to sell the same basic seat for $45 because consumers are willing to pay a premium price for your brand) 

  1. Sales Promotions through discounts and coupons will increase unit share but may compromise the dollar share 

  2. Aggressive Price cutting may also be used as a strategy to capture a higher market share from your competitors 

  3. The last and perhaps the most often used strategy in the Consumer Packaged  

Goods sector is to capture market share through new product introductions 


Practical Steps to Forecasting your Market Share: 

  1. Depending on the industry, forecasting the total market for a product may be as easy as obtaining the market potential from externally syndicated sources. Or it may be as complex as estimating the market by extrapolation based on your own point of sale data. 

  2. We can forecast our retail sales independently and derive the market share as a ratio of own retail sales forecast over forecasted market potential. This is the base case share forecast.  

For example, if we observe the share to be 25% over the last few years, we can assume a stable forecast at 25% for the next year 

  1. We can then come up with an objective or a target market share estimate based on the promotional plans and budgets. If we estimate additional advertising investment can produce a 3% gain in share, our forecast will be a 28% share 

  2. When the total market potential is increasing, our retail sales forecast may be growing even with constant market shares.  


Market share forecasts are important in order to understand the return on investment of advertising dollars and the budget needed to retain versus grow market share. But truly, market share forecasts tell us the long-term demand for our products. They are early warnings of what and how much to produce and distribute to be successful in the marketplace. 

In practice, large CPG companies use share forecasts to guide their demand planning and supply chain operations. This gives them a competitive advantage in running a lean operation, controlling inventories, and maximizing customer service.  

Adapted from the Article Know your market and learn your potential from Baby shop Magazine written by Mark Chockalingam, Ph. D. 


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