Boost Education provides science-based activities, science exhibition design and educational initiatives aimed at teachers and pupils to make learning science fun. The company was started in 1998 and is based in Norwich, Norfolk.
Previously, Boost Education had focused on the UK market but, with the recession of the late 2000’s resulting in severe government cuts to the sector, the company decided to investigate opportunities outside the UK. “We’d done some work with science centres and museums in various countries”, explained Manesty King, Director at Boost Education, “and it had long been a desire for us to promote science in India!” Manesty had some knowledge of the potential opportunities in India, “we knew they held the English schooling system in high regard and that there was a culture of parents investing in their children’s education”. However, Manesty was less sure whether there really was an opportunity for Boost Education and how to make the most of this potential.
Boost Education had worked with UKTI for many years, enjoying the support of their International Trade Advisor (ITA), John Rimmer. Hearing Manesty’s desire to explore the opportunities in India and her need to find more information about the market, John recommended the Export Marketing Research Scheme (EMRS). The EMRS provides advice and funding 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.
Manesty met with Alice Mamier, Research Adviser for the East of England and they planned a research project. Firstly, Alice helped Manesty to identify the decisions Boost Education would need to make from the research:
• What would be their route to market – would they need to find a local partner, manage the projects directly from the UK or perhaps establish a subsidiary in the market?
• How should the programmes be adapted to suit the market – should they align with the curricula in schools or introduce independent activities? Also, should the English be adapted to suit an Indian-English-speaking audience?
• How would they price the kits in India – a typical science kit in the UK was priced around £25 but Manesty had heard that a price closer to 25p would be required in India!
In the summer of 2013, Manesty travelled to Mumbai, Delhi and Pune in India and undertook a series of interviews with a representative range of people who understood the market. She spoke with head teachers of a variety of schools both big and small, teachers and trainee teachers in these schools, representatives of science centres and Commercial Officers in the British Consulates. Each meeting had been arranged in advance and Manesty had prepared a ‘discussion guide’ for each interview to ensure all points were covered. Manesty described why this approach worked so well, “When you speak with a variety of people in the market you understand what’s going on; when you just call or Skype ad hoc you don’t!”
The findings provided Boost Education with the information they needed. It was clear the larger opportunity was with schools rather than in science centres. Manesty was happy to learn that the UK programmes were well regarded and, as such, existing ideas could be adapted for the Indian market. However, the education kits themselves would clearly require adaptation to match the required price point and, during the trip, Manesty realised that simple, everyday items such as cups and bottles as components of the science kits would be welcomed by schools. Another important finding was the obvious need for a local partner with established contacts in the market and knowledge of the sector.
In the two years since the trip, Boost Education has undertaken a programme of activities in India. Working with a local partner, they’ve found suitable clients, and developed their offering accordingly, adapting the contents of the kits to suit local budgets and availability, for example making irrigators from plastic drinking cups! “We’ve also discovered a market for our consultancy and have been paid for devising educational schemes for Indian clients” said Manesty. “It’s an amazing learning curve and we predict we will be in profit financially within the year. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved and all the people we’ve helped”.
“The EMRS gave us the opportunity to talk directly with people, to listen to what they had to say and learn what was needed”, Manesty explained. “You can’t underestimate the value of actually being with someone to understand what the market’s all about”.
Please follow this link to see how other Companies have benefitted from the EMRS.
Topics: Export Planning and Market Research