Consider this as a starting point,

When the electric guy comes, he takes a reading from the meter to see how much power the house used.

Here we can use "take a reading" to show that we are getting information (power consumption) via a signal that we can interpret. That part is easy enough, but if one was to use this on something more abstract, it becomes a little less natural sounding, to me at least.

Specifically, the sentence I need to phrase is:

By carrying out small-venue product launches one can __________ demand.

  • If I put "take a reading of (the)", it has the professional sound, similar to the first example sentence, but it sounds a little too contrived, less natural. Maybe grammatically it's fine, but my gut is telling me "take a reading of" is better for physical instruments and not so much for intangible, abstract things.

  • If I put "get a feel for (the)" it loses the professional sound I need, but it does sound a bit better.

Question: Is there a professional and natural sounding word or phrase that would suit my demand example?

  • You can simply say, one can read demand.
    – philipxy
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 6:48

10 Answers 10


I think the idiomatic way to say it, in this context, is gauge.

1. estimate or determine the amount, level, or volume of.

  • 1
    By carrying out small-venue product launches one can "gauge the" demand. Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 4:26
  • 2
    @Robyn Simpson ~ By carrying out small-venue product launches one can gauge demand. (I don't believe the definite article is needed for demand).
    – Bread
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 10:33
  • 4
    Both "gauge demand" and "gauge the demand" are fine, and both are commonly used: books.google.com/ngrams/… Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 14:14


to ascertain or conclude, esp after observation or consideration



  1. To calculate approximately (the amount, extent, magnitude, position, or value of something).
  2. To form an opinion about; evaluate: "While an author is yet living we estimate his powers by his worst performance"

(both definitions from American Heritage via TheFreeDictionary)

While the electricity guy can accurately take a reading (and he gets a specific number from it), "demand" is not so specific. The electricity guy can "estimate" consumption for the month ahead based on what he has "determined" from past observations.

For what it's worth, I like gauge as in other answers but I naturally avoid it because the spelling of it is unintuitive for me. I always overthink my pronunciation of it.



What you are doing is measuring the value. Therefore, measure is the correct word.



evaluate or estimate the nature, ability, or quality of

Here, the small-venue product launches are used to estimate demand.


While I like gauge, I'm going to suggest another possibility anyway.

(I only just realized that it's referenced in another answer—which mine references in return. So, take your pick if you like either one. . .)

By carrying out small-venue product launches one can monitor demand.


: to watch, keep track of, or check usually for a special purpose · Nurses monitored the patient's heart rate.


1 c : one that monitors or is used in monitoring: such as (1) : an electronic device with a screen used for display (as of television pictures or computer information) (2) : a device for observing a biological condition or function · a heart monitor

  • "Monitor" is good if the action is repeated.
    – Law29
    Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 13:18

keep track of (from Wiktionary):

To monitor; to track or record; to understand or follow.

Alternatively in the sense of getting a feel for it you could say,

gauge (from Wiktionary):

  1. To measure or determine with a gauge; to measure the capacity of.

  2. To estimate.


In engineering and science observations, qualitative qualities are assessed while quantitative quantities are measured. This is an important taxonomic distinction since the difference between quantitative and qualitative is important and the simple fact that something is a number does not necessarily determine it as quantitative.

In your example the electric guy may first look at you meter to see if it has been tampered with. If he asseses that the device is intact, he will then measure the amount of electricity used. note that it would be OK to say that he measures that amount of electricity used even though the meter is actually doing the measuring.

Synonyms for Measure

  • Enumerate
  • Compute
  • Quantify
  • Gauge

Synonyms for Assess

  • Judge
  • Qualify

Words which do not specify qualitative or quantitative measurement are less preferred due to their ambiguity but sometimes must be used because the nature of the observation is unknown. Specifying the type can easily alleviate this. For example, "quantitatively observe" is clunky but unambiguous. Other ambiguous terms for observation include:

  • Determine
  • Record
  • Evaluate

"By carrying out small-venue product launches one can note the demand."

Note in this context could mean both "to see/ to discover" as well to "make a record of" -- the meter reader "notes" (sees/finds out) and also "makes a note of" (records) the reading.



In this particular context, Verify the demand would be a good fit.

Verification requires a measurement.

The implications of the word goes on to why you are taking the measurement. This is a small-venue product launch, presumably before staking larger resources on a large-venue launch. Some sort of expectation of demand has been made. This small trial is to establish whether those expectations are reasonable.


Specifically for your example I would use Evaluate.

Determine feels very binary to me, while Estimate feels very quantitative.

Evaluate is a good in-between word that is vague enough to cover all scenarios where the answers might range from "there is no demand/good demand", "the demand seems to be high for SMB segment but not so much for larger enterprises", or even "the demand is around 1500 units per quarter".

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