Bring youself up to speed by starting with a market or industry report. These secondary research tools define catagories (sometimes not precisely as you would wish), estimate market size and growth potential, describe the competitive forces impacting the industry and identify key players.
Don't forget to take advantage of the links to trade news and associations to learn about the most recent developments.
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Once you have a relevant industry report, you will need to get current information by searching trade & business news and by scoping out the trade assocaitons. Market research reports often name important trade associations. If you don't know the names of relevant trade associations, search the Encyclopedia of Associatons: NationalBusiness Source Premier (EBSCO)
The first step in the competitor analysis is to choose relevant competitors. The industry reports and news you've accessed in the catagory analysis should provide insight into firms competing in your defined market. You can also use company screeners but they tend to focus only on publically traded companies and may not offer the granularity you need about products and services as they typically focus on financial firm attributes.
Once you have identified potential competitors reading company profiles and reports will be helpful. Don't neglect looking over 10K's or annual reports for public companies.
Just as you updated industry reports with news, do so for the competitor analysis.
Much of the qualitative assessment of the brand will come from searching the trade news sources.
You may also want to look at how the brands stack up against each other in terms of advertising spending, consumer surveys and web metrics.
Market research reports usually provide data on brand share.
Social Bakers Get analytics on facebook, YouTube & Twitter presence by brand
Alexa Get web analytics
Quantcast Get web analytics
SimilarWeb Get web analytics
Ad$Summary Find out how much brands spend by media
MarketShare Reporter Short cut to market share reported in various publications
Business Ranking Annual Short cut to business rankings reported in various publications
Once you have defined your target market the following tools may be used to gather demographic, geographic and behavioral information about it. Mintel or MarketResearch.com usually provide good insights into the nature of consumers.
Social research organizations (for example PewResearch.com) and other marketers often publish facts and observations about target markets. Before you use these sources, check out their reputation, quality and credibility. For help with this task or suggestions on reliable sources contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Search for articles about consumer behavior and attitudes in academic article databasesData-Planet
Crafting an integrated marketing plan is primarily a creative project. Nontheless, expect to be able to defend your marketing recommendations by referring to studies and cases evaluating similar techniques. You can find "how to", practitioner advice and rigerous reseach on marketing topics in books and articles discoverable in the following databasesCatalog