Lesley Batchelor OBE is Director General of the Institute of Export, the professional membership body for everyone involved in international trade. Here she gives an overview of what market research is and what you need to research before starting your international marketing and selling.
Emerging markets across the world offer fantastic opportunities for UK companies, but it is essential to research thoroughly to avoid costly mistakes when selecting a market. You need to know far more than the GDP figures and headline statistics from your target company.
Five important areas of market research are:
Researching the Culture
What is the business culture, from business cards to wearing suits? How do they do business and what will you need to change or adapt to operate in this market? Read our article on the cultural differences between different markets for more information.
How do they do pricing?
What duties does the market impose including local taxes? What methods of payment do they use and how much do they cost? How can you mitigate any risks involved in selling with the local currency? Read this article on how to manage international payments for more information.
Is there demand for your product or service
Is there actually a demand for what you are selling within that country? If so will they accept what you are offering or do you need to make modifications? Be aware that colours mean different things in different places – for instance red is lucky in China but white means death. If you haven’t read it already, this article on assessing the demand for your product might be useful.
What is your trading name
Check what your trading name means in the local language (including the slang words!). Find out if anyone else is trading under the same name? What is the country’s attitude to design rights and international trademarks? Can you mitigate the risks of your trademark being copied? This Open to Export article about international trademarks provides more information, as does this article from the Intellectual Property Office
How do you deliver your product
How will you get your product to the customer? Consider broadband infrastructure as well as the physical road system, because a lack of access could jeopardise the administration of orders and deliveries. Is your packaging design and point of sale material appropriate to the culture? Read our article on different delivery options for more information.