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?