While market research can take time, it can ultimately lower exporting risks and help you avoid costly blunders. If you don’t research the culture, regulations, customer habits and payment methods that are typical to the market you’re selling to, among other things, you will struggle to sell your product or service there. This what market research is and why it’s important to do it.
To boost your prospects of long-term success in a worldwide market, you may need to learn more about:
- Your customers’ expectations for the product or service
- Buyer behaviour and decision making process
- Optimum distribution channel
- Competitors’ brand awareness, preferences and loyalty
- Existing customer satisfaction levels.
Types of market research
Secondary research tends to be the first step in market research and it’s the first step to ‘good enough’. However, like with any step in the export process, having a clear goal will make the activity lot more worthwhile.
Secondary research typically relies on published data, the quality of which can vary depending on where you’re looking for information. Remember, this data has been collected against a specific brief that you will not be aware of. Furthermore, it may not have been built with your product or information in mind, so if fitness for purpose is unclear, use it as a suggestion only. Quality is generally higher in Europe than in African and Asian markets, where information is more difficult to obtain.
Moreover, you can seek information from many different places and the cost of information varies depending on the sources. You might like to try:
- Unavailable data: in many developing countries, quality secondary data is often unavailable.
- Out of date data: some companies will provide country reports for different countries which look very similar as they are based on the same document. However, pay attention to the publish date!
- Reliability of the data: before using quantitative data it is important to know about the data collection methodology, the purpose of the collection of the data, the consistency of the data collection and the company responsible for collecting the data. Government data can be ‘tampered with’ to show a more positive view of a country, companies providing ad hoc quantitative market data on your market segment will need to be clearly briefed to provide reliable data.
- Different definitions: Understanding Industry and Product data categories is mandatory due to larger definitions that render the data useless
These challenges, if ignored, can damage the credibility of your market research, leaving you unable to act on the results.
Primary research or FIELD research
Primary, or field research, is specific to your company’s needs. Rather than scouring through general information, this research is tailored to you. Establishing exact information about the marketing of your product can be done easily with field research.
In case you have no experience, conduct research jointly with an agent or distributor.
Primary research can be a very time consuming and expensive exercise. Therefore, planning and scoping based on agreed objectives is key. Based on the objectives and the depth or breadth of the information required; the research will seek quantitative (data with objective and measurable properties), or qualitative (data with subjective properties, not of a measurable value) data, sometimes both.
Finding the right market to sell to is key to success in international trade. Therefore, taking the time to develop an action plan will produce clarity in your processes and keep you on the right road.
Manager’s Office Export Dept