Market research is essential. Not doing it is like planning to make a special cake without ever looking at the recipe. You'll get a cake but it may not be what you wanted!
And, truthfully, it's easier to do then most people think. It does take some ingenuity and tenacity because most of the things wedding pros want to know aren't readily available. However, the internet makes all things possible.
Take me for example. I teach wedding pros strategies to handle disappointments and set boundaries with their clients. Instead of jumping right in, I researched the wedding industry to determine a few key facts, like:
-is my target market declining or growing? I discovered that the planning industry and the demand for their services is growing. OK to proceed.
-what types of wedding pros are they and who do I want to reach? Reading industry books and blogs I learned that 43 different types of businesses are involved in planning a wedding. That's a great bench to draw from. I decided to focus on emerging pros-planners, photographers- because they are 'bride-facing' and will benefit the best from being more conflict competent (I also work with experienced folks who want to be better skilled)
-what problems does my market face. I read at least four different wedding vendor sites to get more info on what keeps folks up at night. You won't be surprised to learn it was getting clients, dealing with tough clients and running a business. That info was key because it helped me broaden my services from communication issues to business problems that cause conflict in the owner or others. A subtle distinction but it lets me talk about and be helpful with more issues.
Also, doing the market research taught me to talk in a way that my market likes. I tend to say problems or issues, but realized that wedding folks say disappointments and frustrations. So, now I do, too. Marketing research has focused me on my niche and offered real insights on what my market wants and how to best serve them Best of all, the more research I do, the more I find that can grow Positively Wed. So, yeah. It's valuable.
To address your specific question about vendors, doing the research will help you see where you 'fit' in your local market. If there are 5 other planners doing something similar, you can research what they're NOT doing and grab that market. And definitely look at town records for demographic figures. Your town might have more baby boomers than brides and knowing that you could market to moms, not the brides themselves.
Thanks for making me realize that all that work really did pay off. Good luck and keep me posted on how you're doing!