Market sizing case: how many potatoes in country X?

Anonymous A asked on Aug 10, 2017 - 2 answers

Friends, hi.

could, please, someone elaborate on how to tackle the case with market sizing. I was asked this question by the partner from BCG and I think I failed since I was not able to ask 'smart' questions on how I will deal with this case. I think the case was devised by the partner based on his project experience: he asked about the market size of potatoes in country X.


2 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Anonymous updated his answer on Aug 10, 2017

Hi there,

Interesting case, let me give you my 2cents:

Preliminary questions:

- By market sizing are we focusing on volume or $?

- How big is the Pop. in Country X?

- Is there any special consumer behavior in this country or can I assume regular consumption (i.e. my own Country)

- Is it ok to assume the market will just be regarding for human consumption?



I'm going to estimate the average consumption per person and then multiply by #Pop. X. There are several ways to estimate it but this sounds the fastest one.

There are 2 big meals per day (Lunch/Dinner);

I'm going to assume I have one meal containing potatoes for every 3 meals (I'm saying this because people eat more rice and pasta in my country when compared to potatoes, however, this can change for this particular country);

I'm going to assume 200g of potato consumption per potato meal. This will equate to a mid size portion of potatoes;

Meals per year = 365x2=730 meals which 1/3 is with potatoes = 240 meals; each with 200g of potatoes = 48 kilos of potatoes per person

(Quick Sanity check: In my family of 4 I usually bring a new 40-50kg bag of potatoes every 3-4 months so 48kg per person surely seems reasonable)

I'm going to assume Population of Country X is 10M for simplicity if we don't have any data.

Market Size = 10M x 48 kg = 480,000 tons


I actually after doing the math went to check statistics and all these numbers make perfect sense.



numbers here are not important, what is important is:

Ask necessary questions to reduce scope and to cancel any misinterpretations;

Take time and draw a framework that can solve problem;

Add numbers to the framework using reasoning and your own experiences;

When obtaining numbers always check if said numbers make sense;

Present final value and add some final conclusions if pertinent.


Nuno, — SR on Aug 10, 2017

replied on Aug 13, 2017
Current partner @ Andreessen Horowitz (VC firm). Ex-Mckinsey, ex- strategy guy at Google.
Book a coaching with Hemant

100% Recommendation Rate

68 Meetings

320 Q&A Upvotes

USD 249 / Coaching

Every market sizing has a different approach, so what you need to focus on is how to find the right variables to fit into a generic formula. Over the years, I have developed the following trick to frame my market-sizing thesis:

Market Size of product/service [x] (in USDs/yr) = Number of total $user_units in Market * %age qualified for product[x] * $frequency of use / yr * $units_used per use * price per use.

You can use this formula to solve almost all market sizing questions. You need to focus on what the $user_unit is, what is an appropriate %age is, and what is the $frequency $units and $price per use is.

E.g. (1): potato

Assuming market is USA. Start with total $user_units. Here users may be households. So 400M people / 4people per house == 100M household == $user_units.

Next, %age qualified == assume 100% of houses eat potatoes (something that may change for meat etc)

Next frequency of use == assume daily for meals (we can add 10-20% on top for stuff like potato chips etc)

Next units per use == 4 potatoes per day

Price = 1$ per potato.. I am just making stuff up here.

== 100M * 100% * 365 times per day * 4 potatoes per day * 0.25$ per potato == $36.5B/yr market

If this seems too big, too small etc then consult the interviewer for a "smell test" -- maybe re-eval your "4 potatoes a day" to 2.. that'll bring market to 18.25B/yr..

@hemant, i get a difference answer=100M*1*365days/year* 4 potatoes/day *1usd/potatoes=146B. Did you mean 1usd/houseuse or 1usd/potatoe? Nonetheless great explaination. — Olu on Aug 18, 2017 (edited)

Related BootCamp article(s)

Interviewer-Led vs Candidate-Led cases

Case Interviews can be led by the candidate or by the interviewer: In Candidate-led cases the main challenge is the structure. In Interviewer-led cases the main challenge is to adapt quickly

Getting Up to Speed

In order to repeatedly demonstrate prerequisite skills under the pressure of a real case interview, you need to learn the basics and practice cases.

Important Facts

It's essential to know some key figures regarding geographies, population, economies for your case interviews. We summarized them for you here.

1 Q&A

Market Sizing

Market Sizing Cases are used to test your quantitative and reasoning skills. The interviewer evaluates your structure, numbers-handling and business sense.

1 Q&A

Related case(s)

Your client, large automotive OEM WyCar, has developed its first fully electric vehicle (EV) and introduced it as a pilot on the Austrian market last year. However, sales have been far below the expected numbers. The management has engaged you to support them in understanding the reasons and advise ... Open whole case

Bain Case: Old Winery

Solved 38.4k times
4.4 5 1008
| Rating: (4.4 / 5.0)

You have inherited the “Old Winery” from your grandfather, a winery which has been family owned for five generations and can be dated back to the 16th century. Half of the eleven hectares are used to grow white grapes, the other half to grow red grapes. They are grown in the conventional way, i.e. ... Open whole case

Roland Berger Case: Onlinestar

Solved 23.9k times
4.3 5 522
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0)

Onlinestar, an online retailer of furniture and garden products (core business), has grown significantly in recent years as a result of an expansion of its product portfolio. The company mainly imports goods from Chinese manufacturers but also operates its own production of cat lavatories (special b ... Open whole case

TKMC Case: Elevators

Solved 11.8k times
4.2 5 1130
| Rating: (4.2 / 5.0)

Your customer is the market leader in the North American elevator service business. This is divided into the areas of elevator construction, elevator modernization and service. The customer has a particularly strong branch network in medium-sized cities and would now like to expand its business in ... Open whole case

Our client Pharma Finance just finalized its first investment round and received $ 40m to invest in the build-up of a pharmaceutical manufacturing company. The CEO is mainly interested in high margins and profitable markets, with a sustainable and green production. This is why he wants you to find o ... Open whole case