Market share is the percentage of a market (defined in terms of either units or revenue) accounted for by a specific entity. In a survey of nearly 200 senior marketing managers, 67 percent responded that they found the “dollar market share” metric very useful, compared to 61% for “unit market share.”
Marketers need to be able to translate sales targets into market share because this will demonstrate whether forecasts are to be attained by growing with the market or by capturing share from competitors. The latter will almost always be more difficult to achieve. Market share is closely monitored for signs of change in the competitive landscape, and it frequently drives strategic or tactical action.
Market share is a key indicator of market competitiveness—that is, how well a firm is doing against its competitors. This metric, supplemented by changes in sales revenue, helps managers evaluate both primary and selective demand in their market. That is, it enables them to judge not only total market growth or decline but also trends in customers’ selections among competitors.
Generally, sales growth resulting from primary demand (total market growth) is less costly and more profitable than that achieved by capturing share from competitors. Conversely, losses in market share can signal serious long-term problems that require strategic adjustments. Firms with market shares below a certain level may not be viable. Similarly, within a firm’s product line, market share trends for individual products are considered early indicators of future opportunities or problems.
Market share: The percentage of a market accounted for by a specific entity.
Unit market share: The units sold by a particular company as a percentage of total market sales, measured in the same units.
Unit market share (%) = 100 x Unit sales (#) ÷ Total market unit sales (#)
This formula, of course, can be rearranged to derive either unit sales or total market unit sales from the other two variables, as illustrated in the following:
Unit sales (#) = Unit market share (%) x Total market unit sales (#) ÷ 100
Total market unit sales (#) = 100 x Unit sales (#) ÷ Unit market share (%)
Revenue (or dollar) market share: Revenue market share differs from unit market share in that it reflects the prices at which goods are sold. In fact, a relatively simple way to calculate relative price is to divide revenue market share by unit market share.
Revenue market share (%) = 100 x Sales revenue ($) ÷ Total market sales revenue($)
As with the unit market share, this equation for revenue market share can be rearranged to calculate either sales revenue or total market sales revenue from the other two variables.
Although market share is likely the single most important marketing metric, there is no generally acknowledged best method for calculating it. This is unfortunate, as different methods may yield not only different computations of market share at a given moment, but also widely divergent trends over time.
The reasons for these disparities include variations in the lenses through which share is viewed (units versus dollars), where in the channel the measurements are taken (shipments from manufacturers versus consumer purchases), market definition (scope of the competitive universe), and measurement error.
- ^ Farris, Paul W.; Neil T. Bendle; Phillip E. Pfeifer; and David J. Reibstein (2010). Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance (Second Edition). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.