A total addressable market, or TAM is the available market for a product or service. That is a metric usually leveraged by startups to understand the business potential of an industry. Typically, a large addressable market is appealing to venture capitalists willing to back startups with extensive growth potential.
Aspect Explanation Concept Overview Total Addressable Market (TAM) is a business term that represents the total revenue opportunity available for a specific product or service within a defined market. It signifies the maximum potential demand for a product or service if it were to capture 100% of the market share. TAM analysis is a crucial step in market research and business planning as it helps companies understand the scope and size of the market they are targeting. Calculation Calculating TAM typically involves the following steps:
1. Define the Market: Clearly define the market in terms of product or service category and geographic scope.
2. Determine the Target Customer Base: Identify the total number of potential customers who might be interested in the product or service.
3. Estimate the Average Revenue per Customer: Calculate the average revenue that each customer would generate annually or over a specific period.
4. Multiply the Number of Customers by Revenue: Multiply the estimated number of potential customers by the average revenue per customer to calculate TAM.
Importance Understanding TAM is crucial for several reasons:
1. Market Sizing: It provides a quantitative measure of the market’s size and potential.
2. Business Planning: Helps in setting realistic revenue targets and growth strategies.
3. Investment Decisions: Attracts investors by showcasing the market opportunity.
4. Competitive Analysis: Assists in evaluating market competition and differentiation strategies.
5. Product Development: Guides product development efforts based on market demand.
Addressable vs. Serviceable vs. Available Market In addition to TAM, there are two related concepts:
1. Serviceable Addressable Market (SAM): SAM represents the portion of TAM that a business can realistically serve or target with its products or services. It takes into account factors like geographical limitations, regulatory constraints, and the company’s capacity.
2. Share of Market (SOM): SOM is the percentage of the SAM that a business can capture or currently holds. It’s a more realistic measure of market share, as companies rarely achieve 100% market penetration.
Challenges Determining TAM can be challenging due to factors like market segmentation, changing customer preferences, and market dynamics. Overestimating TAM can lead to unrealistic business expectations, while underestimating it may result in missed opportunities for growth.
TAM, SAM, and SOM in a nutshell
When launching or running a business, at the question “who’s your target?” it often happens to hear answers like “everyone can use my product or service.”
This implies a complete misunderstanding of the market.
This can be not good for several reasons.
First, it might make it harder to prioritize and focus on a few key partners who might help the business snowball and scale.
When they identified their power users on eBay, they focused on and prioritized that niche market.
Thus, PayPal first dominated that niche and then moved forward.
Second, if you need external resources, such as lending and financing, being able to present the total addressable market (TAM) is a crucial element to make the value proposition for those investing in your business compelling enough.
For that matter, a few crucial questions, such as who needs your service, how much can I charge for it, and what players are already in that market helps to find a few elements to compute the TAM.
To evaluate a business opportunity, you need to look into three metrics:
- TAM or total addressable market
- SAM or serviceable addressable market
- SOM or serviceable obtainable market
Let’s start with a practical and straightforward example. Imagine the scenario you’re opening a barbershop in Rome.
Now your TAM might be any man in the world with a beard. However, of those, how many can you reach and service?
It would also be great to say that your total serviceable addressable market is those men’s beards.
However, this is not realistic.
Instead, to be realistic, you might start from the neighborhood where your barbershop will be located.
This means that in a population of a hypothetical thousand people in the neighborhood, only 50% are men, and of those men, only 50% have a beard.
This means your total serviceable market is now only two-hundred-fifty men (a thousand divided by two, twice).
Yet, you’re not the only barbershop in the neighborhood. It seems like another person had the same idea, and her barbershop serves already half of those men’s beards.
This means that your potential market share might be 50% of the serviceable market, or a hundred and twenty-five people. This is your SOM.
Although this is a simplified example, that is a good starting point to understand the difference between TAM, SAM, and SOM.
You don’t need to perform complicated analyses to start understanding those concepts.
All you need is to start thinking in realistic terms about who’s that you’re trying to serve!
Defining the total addressable market is important, especially for companies attracting investors.
In short, in many cases, investors don’t look for the company’s potential growth.
But rather to the company’s potential growth in a growing market and industry.
Thus, guessing the potential market size, especially in growing or rising industries, is critical for most investors.
For instance, this is how Pinterest defined its total addressable market in its S-1:
The global advertising market is projected to grow to $826 billion in 2022 from $693 billion in 2018, representing a 5% compound annual growth rate (“CAGR”), according to IDC. The digital advertising market alone is projected to grow to $423 billion in 2022 from $272 billion in 2018, representing a 12% CAGR, according to IDC. In 2018, the consumer packaged goods (“CPG”) and retail industries accounted for $64 billion of this digital advertising spend, and the travel, technology (includes computing, consumer electronics and telecom), automotive, media & entertainment and financial services industries accounted for an additional $144 billion. The United States continues to represent the largest digital advertising market in the world. The U.S. digital advertising market is projected to grow to $166 billion in 2022 from $104 billion in 2018, representing a 12% CAGR, according to IDC.
Then the company defined its total addressable market and its market opportunity by highlighting the various advertising formats the company delivers (online brand advertising and performance-based advertising).
Your TAM is the BHAG
No company will be able to reach its TAM in the short term.
And to be fair, no company should be trying to achieve that.
A company, if adequately reaching scale, ‘ll be able to get close to its TAM or even pass it (there are many assumptions in computing the TAM which might be underestimating it).
For instance, as the story goes, recounted in the book Measure What Matters, author and venture capitalist John Doerr asked Brin and Page, “how big do you think this could be?”
He was referring to Google. This was the fall of 1999.
John Doerr had thought that if everything worked, Google would have reached a market cap of $1 billion.
Yet, when Larry Page responded, “ten billion dollars,” Doerr replied, “you mean a market cap, right?”
Larry Page replied, “no, I don’t mean market cap; I mean revenue.”
At the time, assuming that sort of revenue generation meant reaching the size of companies like Microsoft or IBM, who were the dominant players.
While Doerr was impressed, he was also skeptical about it.
Yet, Google (Alphabet) today is an over trillion-dollar company, with $257.6 billion in revenues!
So both Doerr and Page, two incredibly smart people, were completely off about the TAM.
What does that mean?
Computing TAM is a great exercise to improve your business acumen, but it’s just that, an exercise.
Thus, it’ll be extremely hard to know, over time, how big an industry might get, let alone be able to tackle it all with limited resources.
Your SAM is your scale
Scaling up a business is a game for its own sake.
It’s not just about the product; it’s about the business model and whether that is able to sustain a product to reach its SAM.
So also here, before you can tackle the SAM, you want to start to creating options to scale.
How? From the SOM!
Your SOM is your niche
Any company with restrained resources, but in general, any startup trying to tackle a new market, should start with a niche, and better yet, a micro-niche.
From there, you want to start tackling your minimum viable audience.
When you tackle a small niche, you enable valuable feedback loops while trying to answer simple questions about the market and from there, create options to scale!
- TAM, SAM, and SOM Defined:
- TAM (Total Addressable Market): Represents the total potential market size for a product or service if it were to capture the entire market demand.
- SAM (Serviceable Addressable Market): Refers to the portion of the TAM that a company can realistically target and serve with its resources and capabilities.
- SOM (Serviceable Obtainable Market): Indicates the specific portion of the SAM that a company can reasonably capture and secure as its market share.
- Importance of Target Market Definition:
- Example: Opening a Barbershop:
- A practical example of a barbershop in a neighborhood illustrates the concepts of TAM, SAM, and SOM.
- TAM: All men with beards globally.
- SAM: Men with beards in the local neighborhood.
- SOM: The subset of men with beards who haven’t already chosen a competing barbershop.
- Case Study and Investor Perspective:
- BHAG and TAM:
- The concept of a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG) is introduced, suggesting a long-term ambitious goal guided by company values.
- Companies aim to approach or exceed their TAM with sustained growth.
- Scale and SAM:
- Niche and SOM:
- Startups and businesses with limited resources should begin with a niche, even a micro-niche, to focus their efforts effectively.
- A micro-niche can grow into a niche, then a market, enabling scalability.
- Minimum Viable Audience (MVA):
- Tackling a small niche allows for valuable feedback loops and understanding market dynamics.
- Building from an MVA provides insights and options for future scaling.
|Company||Industry||Total Addressable Market (TAM) Breakdown||Analysis|
|Amazon||E-commerce||Amazon’s TAM includes online retail, third-party seller transactions, and cloud computing services (AWS).||Amazon’s TAM is vast, covering online retail, marketplace services, and cloud infrastructure.|
|Online Advertising||Google’s TAM encompasses the digital advertising space, including search ads, display ads, and YouTube ads.||Google dominates the digital advertising market, benefiting from its search and video platforms.|
|Tesla||Electric Vehicles||Tesla’s TAM involves the global market for electric vehicles, including passenger cars, trucks, and sustainable energy solutions.||Tesla aims to capture a share of the growing electric vehicle market, driven by environmental concerns.|
|Microsoft||Cloud Computing||Microsoft’s TAM includes cloud services like Azure, productivity software (Office 365), and enterprise solutions.||Microsoft competes in the expanding cloud computing market, serving businesses’ digital transformation needs.|
|Netflix||Streaming Entertainment||Netflix’s TAM comprises the global streaming entertainment sector, covering movies, TV series, and original content.||Netflix focuses on providing a wide range of streaming entertainment options to a global audience.|
|Airbnb||Accommodation Rental||Airbnb’s TAM spans the worldwide lodging industry, including vacation rentals, short-term stays, and unique accommodations.||Airbnb offers a platform for travelers to find unique accommodations, disrupting the traditional hotel industry.|
|Uber||Ride-Hailing and Delivery||Uber’s TAM covers ride-hailing services for passengers and food delivery services, targeting urban transportation and convenience.||Uber aims to provide accessible transportation and delivery services to a wide range of customers.|
|Facebook (Meta)||Social Media||Facebook’s TAM includes the social media landscape, offering a platform for users to connect and share content, supported by advertising.||Facebook’s primary revenue source is advertising, leveraging its large user base for ad targeting.|
|Zoom Video||Video Conferencing||Zoom’s TAM expanded rapidly with the surge in remote work and virtual meetings, catering to businesses and individuals needing video communication.||Zoom Video became essential for remote communication during the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to its growth.|
|Salesforce||Customer Relationship Management||Salesforce’s TAM focuses on businesses seeking CRM and cloud solutions to manage customer relationships and drive growth.||Salesforce offers a suite of CRM tools and cloud services to support businesses’ sales and customer management efforts.|
|Alibaba Group||E-commerce and Technology||Alibaba’s TAM includes e-commerce, cloud computing, digital payments, and various technology services, primarily targeting the Asian market.||Alibaba has a diverse range of businesses, serving both consumers and enterprises across multiple sectors.|
|Apple||Consumer Electronics||Apple’s TAM encompasses the global market for smartphones, tablets, computers, wearables, and services like the App Store and Apple Music.||Apple aims to provide a seamless ecosystem of products and services, fostering brand loyalty.|
|Professional Networking||LinkedIn’s TAM targets professionals, businesses, and recruiters seeking networking, job opportunities, and talent solutions.||LinkedIn is a valuable platform for professionals to connect, build their careers, and explore job opportunities.|
|SpaceX||Space Exploration||SpaceX’s TAM spans satellite deployment, space travel, and future exploration missions, focusing on the commercialization of space and reducing launch costs.||SpaceX aims to make space more accessible and cost-effective for various applications, including satellite internet.|
|Robinhood||Stock Trading||Robinhood’s TAM includes retail investors seeking easy access to stock trading, cryptocurrencies, and investment opportunities.||Robinhood introduced commission-free stock trading, attracting a new generation of retail investors.|
|DoorDash||Food Delivery||DoorDash’s TAM comprises the food delivery services sector, catering to customers looking for convenient meal delivery options from local restaurants.||DoorDash operates in a competitive food delivery market, offering a range of dining options to consumers.|
|Airbnb Experiences||Travel Experiences||Airbnb Experiences’ TAM focuses on travelers seeking unique activities and experiences, ranging from tours and workshops to cultural events.||Airbnb Experiences aims to provide travelers with memorable and immersive activities hosted by local experts.|
|Coursera||Online Education||Coursera’s TAM targets learners seeking online courses, certifications, and skill development opportunities in various fields and industries.||Coursera offers a platform for online education, partnering with universities and institutions to provide quality courses.|
|Yelp||Business Reviews||Yelp’s TAM includes consumers looking for business reviews and recommendations, as well as businesses seeking online presence and marketing solutions.||Yelp provides a platform for businesses to engage with customers and for users to discover local businesses and services.|
|LinkedIn Talent Solutions||Recruitment and Talent||LinkedIn Talent Solutions’ TAM focuses on businesses seeking recruitment tools and solutions to attract and hire talent effectively.||LinkedIn Talent Solutions offers tools to connect businesses with potential candidates and streamline the hiring process.|
|Square||Payment Processing||Square’s TAM covers payment processing solutions for small businesses, including point-of-sale hardware, online payments, and financial services.||Square simplifies payment processing for small businesses, offering a range of tools to manage transactions and finances.|
|Salesforce Marketing Cloud||Marketing Automation||Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s TAM includes businesses looking for marketing automation, analytics, and customer engagement solutions to enhance their digital marketing efforts.||Salesforce Marketing Cloud aims to help businesses create personalized marketing campaigns and improve customer engagement.|
|Booking.com||Travel Booking||Booking.com’s TAM focuses on travelers seeking accommodations, flights, car rentals, and travel packages through its online travel agency platform.||Booking.com offers a one-stop platform for travelers to plan and book various travel-related services.|
|Adobe||Creative Software||Adobe’s TAM targets creative professionals and businesses seeking digital media, design, and marketing software solutions for content creation and management.||Adobe’s suite of creative software and digital marketing tools is widely used for content creation and marketing campaigns.|
|Expedia||Online Travel Booking||Expedia’s TAM includes travelers looking to book hotels, flights, vacation packages, and other travel-related services through its online travel agency platform.||Expedia simplifies the process of planning and booking trips by offering a wide range of travel options.|
|HubSpot||Inbound Marketing||HubSpot’s TAM focuses on businesses seeking inbound marketing, sales automation, and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.||HubSpot offers a suite of tools to attract, engage, and delight customers, driving inbound marketing efforts.|
|HomeAway (Vrbo)||Vacation Rental||HomeAway (Vrbo) serves travelers seeking vacation rental accommodations worldwide, including cabins, beach houses, and apartments.||HomeAway (Vrbo) provides a platform for travelers to find unique and spacious vacation rentals.|
|SurveyMonkey||Survey and Data Insights||SurveyMonkey’s TAM includes businesses, researchers, and organizations seeking survey creation and data analysis tools to gather insights and make data-driven decisions.||SurveyMonkey simplifies the process of conducting surveys and analyzing data to gain valuable insights.|
|Dropbox||Cloud Storage and Sharing||Dropbox’s TAM targets individuals, teams, and businesses looking for cloud storage and file-sharing solutions to collaborate and access files from anywhere.||Dropbox offers a user-friendly platform for storing, sharing, and syncing files, enhancing collaboration.|
|Slack||Team Collaboration||Slack’s TAM focuses on businesses and teams seeking efficient team collaboration, messaging, and communication tools to streamline workflows.||Slack enhances team communication and collaboration by providing a centralized platform for messages and file sharing.|
|Airbnb for Work||Corporate Travel||Airbnb for Work’s TAM includes businesses looking for accommodations and experiences for corporate travel, team-building, and meetings.||Airbnb for Work caters to the needs of businesses seeking alternative accommodation options for employees.|
|Udemy||Online Learning||Udemy’s TAM targets learners and professionals seeking online courses and skill development opportunities across a wide range of subjects and industries.||Udemy offers a vast marketplace of courses taught by instructors worldwide, catering to diverse learning needs.|
|Yelp for Business||Business Advertising||Yelp for Business’ TAM includes local businesses seeking online advertising, marketing, and customer engagement solutions to reach and attract customers.||Yelp for Business helps local businesses enhance their online presence and connect with potential customers.|
|StockX||Sneaker and Collectibles||StockX’s TAM focuses on collectors and enthusiasts looking to buy and sell authenticated sneakers, streetwear, electronics, and collectible items.||StockX provides a platform for individuals to engage in the resale market for highly sought-after items.|
|Poshmark||Fashion Resale||Poshmark’s TAM includes fashion enthusiasts looking to buy and sell gently used clothing, accessories, and fashion items in various styles.||Poshmark offers a community-driven marketplace for fashion resale, promoting sustainability and style.|
|Thumbtack||Local Services||Thumbtack’s TAM targets individuals and businesses seeking local service professionals for various tasks and projects, from home improvement to event planning.||Thumbtack simplifies the process of finding and hiring local service professionals for diverse needs.|
|Turo||Peer-to-Peer Car Rental||Turo’s TAM includes travelers and car owners looking for peer-to-peer car rentals, enabling individuals to rent their vehicles or book unique cars.||Turo offers a platform for individuals to share and rent vehicles, creating a peer-to-peer car rental marketplace.|
|99designs||Design Services||99designs’ TAM focuses on businesses and individuals seeking design services through crowdsourcing, including logo design, graphic design, and web design.||99designs hosts design contests, allowing businesses to receive custom designs from a global community of designers.|
|Salesforce Commerce Cloud||E-commerce Solutions||Salesforce Commerce Cloud’s TAM targets businesses looking for e-commerce solutions, including online storefronts, digital marketing, and order management capabilities.||Salesforce Commerce Cloud provides a comprehensive e-commerce platform to support businesses in their online retail efforts.|
|TaskRabbit||On-Demand Task Services||TaskRabbit’s TAM includes individuals and businesses looking for on-demand taskers to complete various tasks and projects, from home repairs to deliveries.||TaskRabbit simplifies the process of finding skilled taskers to handle a wide range of tasks efficiently.|
|Upwork||Freelance Talent Marketplace||Upwork’s TAM focuses on businesses and individuals seeking freelance talent for a variety of projects and services, spanning from web development to content creation.||Upwork connects freelancers with clients seeking specific skills, offering a diverse marketplace for freelance work.|
|Facebook Marketplace||Online Marketplace||Facebook Marketplace’s TAM includes individuals and businesses looking to buy and sell a wide range of new and used items, from electronics to furniture.||Facebook Marketplace provides a convenient platform for local and online buying and selling within communities.|
Additional Case Studies for TAM, SAM, SOM
|Apple Inc.||Global market for consumer electronics||Consumers and businesses in developed and developing countries||Customers who purchase Apple products and services|
|Amazon.com Inc.||Global e-commerce and cloud computing||Online shoppers, businesses, and organizations||Amazon Prime subscribers, AWS customers, and marketplace sellers|
|Google LLC||Global internet search, advertising, and cloud services||Internet users and businesses seeking digital advertising||Google Ads advertisers, G Suite users, and Cloud Platform customers|
|Microsoft Corporation||Global software, hardware, and cloud services||Enterprises, governments, and individual consumers||Windows OS users, Office 365 subscribers, Azure cloud customers|
|Facebook, Inc.||Global social media and digital advertising||Social media users, businesses, and advertisers||Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger users|
|Alphabet Inc. (Google’s Parent)||Global internet-related services||Internet users, businesses, and advertisers||Google search users, YouTube viewers, and GCP clients|
|Tesla, Inc.||Global electric vehicle and clean energy markets||Car buyers interested in electric vehicles||Tesla car owners and solar energy customers|
|Netflix, Inc.||Global streaming entertainment market||Internet users seeking on-demand video content||Netflix subscribers|
|Uber Technologies, Inc.||Global ride-sharing and food delivery market||Urban and suburban commuters, restaurant-goers||Uber riders and Uber Eats customers|
|Salesforce.com, Inc.||Global customer relationship management (CRM) market||Businesses and organizations of all sizes||Salesforce CRM and cloud service subscribers|
|Airbnb, Inc.||Global short-term lodging and vacation rental market||Travelers and property owners||Airbnb hosts and guests|
|Adobe Inc.||Global software for creativity, marketing, and documents||Creative professionals, marketers, and enterprises||Adobe Creative Cloud and Document Cloud users|
|PayPal Holdings, Inc.||Global digital payments and financial services||Online shoppers, businesses, and freelancers||PayPal and Venmo users|
|Twitter, Inc.||Global social media and microblogging market||Individuals, businesses, and advertisers||Twitter users and advertisers|
|Snap Inc. (Snapchat)||Global multimedia messaging and AR technology||Social media users, advertisers, and AR enthusiasts||Snapchat users and Discover content consumers|
|Spotify Technology S.A.||Global music streaming and podcast market||Music lovers and podcast enthusiasts||Spotify Premium and Free users|
|Alibaba Group Holding Limited||Global e-commerce, cloud computing, and fintech||Online shoppers, businesses, and financial services||Alibaba.com, Taobao, and Tmall users|
|Tencent Holdings Limited||Global internet services, gaming, and social media||Gamers, social media users, and online shoppers||WeChat, QQ, and Honor of Kings players|
|Square, Inc.||Global financial services, mobile payments, and POS systems||Small businesses, retailers, and service providers||Square payment and hardware users|
|Zoom Video Communications, Inc.||Global video conferencing and virtual collaboration||Businesses, educational institutions, and remote workers||Zoom Meetings and Webinars participants|
Related Market Development Frameworks
FourWeekMBA Business Toolbox
Other business resources: