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What is a market?

A market is any place where makers, distributors or retailers sell, and consumers buy. Examples include shops, high streets or websites. The term may also refer to the whole group of buyers for a good or service.

Any business in a market is usually in competition with other companies that offer similar goods or services.

When the press writes about markets plummeting or going through the roof, they are usually referring to the price of shares (stocks), commodities or other derivatives. For example, the headline “US markets suffer biggest one-day loss in almost four years,” refers to Wall Street (Dow Jones Index), the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

The United States is the world’s largest market for most products and services. However, China is starting to take the number one spot in a number of sectors.

MarketA market is where consumers and sellers get together to buy and sell goods and services.

The term emerged in the British Isles in the early 1200s, and meant ‘a meeting at a fixed time for buying and selling livestock and provisions.’ It came from Old French ‘marchiet’, which meant ‘trade, commerce, marketplace.’ In most of Western Europe, the word can be traced back to the Latin ‘mercatus’, which meant ‘trading, marketplace, buying and selling.’

The English word ‘market’ in Spanish and Portuguese is ‘mercado’, French – marché, German – Markt, Italian – mercato, Russian – рынок, Japanese – 市場, and Chinese – 市场.



According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online, a market is:

“The ​people who might ​want to ​buy something, or a ​part of the ​world where something is ​sold,” or “The ​business or ​trade in a ​particular ​product, ​including ​financial ​products.”

NetMBA says that the term market (in marketing) refers to a group of consumers or organizations that is interested in purchasing a product or service, has the resources to buy it, and is allowed to by law and other regulations to acquire it.

Markets are always changing – they are dynamic. Successful businesses are the ones that closely monitor trends and evolving consumer requirements, which are influenced by several factors, including changing economic conditions, lifestyles, new technologies, discoveries, or new fashions.



The prices of goods and services are established by the market. They facilitate trade and enable the distribution and allocation of resources within an economy. They allow any item or service that can be bought or sold to be evaluated and priced.

Markets either emerge naturally, spontaneously, or may be deliberately constructed.

The word may also refer to all the players within a sector. For example, the financial market means commercial banks, retail banks, pension funds, insurance companies – any environment where buyers and sellers trade in derivatives, bonds, equities and currencies.

Air passenger market USMarket may also refer to how big the sector is, who the suppliers are, and what percentage of all customers they provide goods or services to. (Data Source: http://marketrealist.com)

Markets can be physical places

A market could mean a physical place built to trade in specific goods, such as fish markets, farmers’ markets, street markets, food retail markets, and wet markets (sell meat and groceries).

Any retail outlet, ranging from a tiny corner shop to a giant store is a type of market. Shopping malls, bazaars, souks, flea markets, and discount stores are markets.

Companies must define their market

One of the fundamental keys to business success is to first define your market – something many companies fail to do.

Experts say that a surprising number of businesses put together a marketing plan, without first defining exactly what their market is.

It is a bit like the person who is putting together a jig-saw puzzle without first checking the picture on the back of the box. They may think they are putting together the pieces of the Eiffel Tower, when in fact it is the Empire State Building.

Before deciding how you are going to get to those potential customers, you must be able to first define that market.

Southern European MarketThe term may also refer to a geographical area, as in this headline “Netflix expanding into southern European market.”

The economies of the US, Canada, Western Europe, Australasia and Japan are known as ‘open markets’. They contrast with the closed markets of Cuba and North Korea.

Quotes by famous people using the word ‘market’

Co-founder of Microsoft, multi-billionaire business magnate Bill Gates, said:

“If African farmers can use improved seeds and better practices to grow more crops and get them to market, then millions of families can earn themselves a better living and a better life.”

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), the 35th President of the United States, said:

“A nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people.”

Billionaire business magnate, Warren Buffett, considered by many as the most successful investor of the twentieth century, said:

“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.”

Market failure occurs when the market does not function as efficiently as it should. This could be because of: 1. Externatilities, e.g. a factory contaminates the drinking water of nearby residents. 2. The abuse of market power, e.g. monopolistic behaviors. 3. A situation in which one person in a business deal has more information than the other person (or different information) – known as asymmetric information.  4. When public goods, such as roads, railroads, national defense have to be provided by the state.

Video – Market definition