What do I need to know about International Market Research?

Alice Ashworth
Marketing Executive - International
9th June 2021

Before entering any new foreign market it is essential to carry out detailed international market research and evaluate the target opportunities. Get your research right and it will help prevent costly mistakes and maximise your profit potential.

It’s highly unlikely that you'll have the luxury to be able to target the world over, so to save time and money it's vitally important to do your homework and identify exactly where in the world is the best place to sell your product or service.

Once you have decided which market you will target, detailed country research will enable you to respond to local market conditions, and plan your market entry strategy to ensure maximum success.

What are the differen types of international market research?

There are two types of market research; primary research and secondary research. 

Primary research involves gathering new data directly from the consumer or potential customer. Activities such as questionnaires, interviews, focus groups and surveys fall under the remit of primary research.

Secondary research uses data that already exists. There are two types. Firstly, you can buy ready-made reports from companies like Business West, who have a dedicated International Market Research team. Secondly, you can conduct desk-based research, which involves gathering existing data that has already been produced. 

What type of research you conduct is entirely your choice. If your resources are limited then you will most likely go down the path of desk-based (secondary) research. 

However, online surveys can be created using sites such as Survey Monkey and they allow you to gather your primary research data in a simple manner.

How do you approach international market research?

First things first, you will need to create a market research brief. This document will stop you from going off tangent and will form the structure of your eventual market research report. 

Here are a few questions you should be answering with in-depth analysis to back up your answers:

  • Why this market? 

Ensure that you know why you have chosen this market rather than any others. This market should be the best place for your products and services and there also must be a demand for them. 

  • What is the size of the demographic that you are aiming at in this market? 

If you have had an enquiry from this market, this is a good start but make sure you aren’t missing out on more lucrative opportunities in other markets. If the size of your target market is lower in this country, perhaps look at the size of the market in neighbouring countries.

  • What is your price point going to be? 

You need to be competitive in this new market but also take into account other costs that you will incur by exporting. Think about current exchange rates, tax, import duties and export documentation costs. Many British products can carry a premium price tag which is an advantage when you have all these items to consider.

  • How will you manage the sales development? 

Think about whether you want to use a distributor or agent, or other ways to get your goods into market and expand whilst you are there. There are many options to sell your products and services so thorough research should be carried out to make sure you chose the right one for your brand and customers.

This is just a starting point; there will be many more things to consider before packing your suitcase, and you can identify what these might be by discussing, planning and producing an export plan with your International Trade Adviser (ITA). If you don’t have an ITA, you can contact your local trade office.

Where can you find the best information?

The internet provides us with a wealth of information and at times, misinformation. It is best practice to use material from credible sources. The International Market Research team at Business West use the following three sites:

Most businesses find it difficult to be able to conduct this all-important market research and may not have the skills, knowledge and access to the right resources to get this done. Many market research companies specialise in overseas markets, and you can employ a researcher to do this in-house if you have a particularly unusual product or service. The research can provide you with information on market growth trends and opportunities, business culture and language characteristics, legislation, import regulations and certifications and a competitor landscape overview. You can speak to an ITA about getting started with conducting internal or external international market research.

You may be interested to know...

The Department for International Trade South West is running an International Market Research workshop as part of the Export Academy programme. This workshop will help you to identify the critical factors that make a market suitable for your business, they’ll also teach you where to find the best market information to aid decision making.

The workshop is free to attend and will be taking place on the following dates:

  • Wednesday 16th June 2021
  • Thursday 15th July 2021
  • Thursday 9th September 2021

Book your free place today

  • Book your free place today

    The Export Academy guides businesses on how to sell internationally through education and support, upskilling them so they have the tools and confidence to seek out new opportunities around the world.

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