Have you looked at Google Trends (Google Trends). This is a very good service to determine large scale requirements starting from Jobs, Type of Food, Tourism Destinations, Type of Discounts, to almost everything. The problem here is it has details of what people look for using Google, but not about what people look for locally!
I used Google Trends to "research on job openings" and "research on kind of software work" being done in Victoria. Just search for all your key skills and you will know where that work is being done! Just like when you look for C++ on Google Worldwide site, Bangalore comes at #1 and the second competitor is less than 1/4th of Bangalore!
I've not had a franchise but I have been involved in network marketing in the past (that was one of the reasons I joined this forum to promote the product in Australia - the product and company no longer exist but I'm still on here!).
The best products I found were things that people used a lot - everyday consumables that had a good selling point such as cheaper than the usual providers.
The product must be want people want and there must be a reason for them to move from what they are doing / using now. If there isn't a reason then (for me) there is too much sales involved in that you may need to be *really* good at sales to sell the product / service.
I've learnt from personal experience that creating something that people need is not the same as something they want!