Bright Green Technology specialises in LED backlighting systems for large format advertising, airport signage, retail applications and architectural lighting. Founded in 2002, the business is based in Byfleet, Surrey.
The business had enjoyed ad-hoc overseas sales from the outset but a chance meeting with UKTI, at Sign UK 2012 (a trade show), led Bright Green Technology to consider a more strategic approach to the export opportunity. Around the same time, the business received a potentially lucrative enquiry for a signage scheme in a new airport in the UAE. “We were keen to act on this but felt there could be significantly more business in the region”, explained Andy Clark, CEO, “We wanted a better understanding of the market in UAE to ensure we took full advantage of this opportunity”.
Bright Green Technology signed up for UKTI’s Passport to Export Programme and, through this, learned about the Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS). The EMRS provides advice to help businesses understand the dynamics of a potential overseas market before creating an appropriate launch strategy and there is a nationwide team of professional Research Advisers to support individual companies.
Julian Bridgewater, the region’s Research Adviser, met with Andy and together they identified the key decisions the company wanted to make as a result of the research:
- What route to market would be financially viable – direct, through an agent or distributor or by setting up a local subsidiary
- What would be the USP (Unique Selling Point) – the main driver in the UK was lower energy costs but Bright Green wasn’t sure whether that would apply in the UAE
- What marketing channels would be used to promote the product – Bright Green Technology’s focus was remote communications, such as email, in the UK but again Bright Green wasn’t sure this would be appropriate in this new market
- Whether the products and price-points would need adapting for the UAE market.
Anna Bancroft, Marketing Manager at Bright Green Technology began with desk research to see what information she could find to enable these decisions. She found plentiful information about different methods of market entry, information about the free zones and legalities but very little about who was competing in the Out Of Home media market and how. “This highlighted to us the importance of speaking with a wide and varied range of people in the market to gain a real understanding of what was happening in the country”, explained Anna, “ and the information we found out in this desk research allowed us to focus our questioning in the field research”.
Armed with a comprehensive discussion guide, Andy Clark, CEO of Bright Green Technology, travelled to the UAE in September 2013 to conduct a series of face-to-face interviews with a wide and representative range of people who knew the market well including: Out Of Home media companies, media sector specialists, UAE specialists and lawyers and Commercial Officers in the UKTI consulates.
The results were truly enlightening. Andy discovered there were few competitors in the market and a clear space for further choice, provided a clear differentiation was made. The need for a localised and long-term approach to business development was also apparent. Andy found that customers far preferred buying face-to-face from someone they knew, supported with print media and attendance at exhibitions; email communication alone would not be an appropriate option. A key finding was the importance to customers of buying ‘the best’. “We learned that people selected products largely on the basis of quality rather than energy saving. Also we found that many specifiers in the Middle East seemed to prefer Western Brands because of the perceived quality benefits”, explained Anna; this offered a clear USP for Bright Green Technology’s range in the market. The conclusion was that the UAE represented a significant opportunity for the business.
Andy decided to invest time in the region, visiting every couple of months to meet face-to-face with clients to further develop these important relationships. “We’ve already had some significant orders in the region including a large contract to illuminate all of the wayfinding at Dubai International Airport and, unexpectedly, have also won additional UK business resulting from new contacts in the Gulf region!”
“The EMRS gave us the framework and the ‘push’ we needed to commit to doing the research we wanted to, but didn’t believe we could”, said Anna. “Without it, we would have struggled to have a real presence in the region.”
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Countries: United Arab Emirates
Topics: Export Planning, Export Process, Getting Started, and Market Research