To make a success out of international trade, you are going to need some knowledge about where you plan to sell your products. Your potential customers’ quality expectations about your product category and their buyer behaviour, optimum distribution channels for reaching a market and making your products accessible, existing competition, loyalty, and awareness of your brand. These are all examples of the kind of insight necessary to begin business in another territory on the right foot. How do you accomplish all of this? The best way to gain insight into a foreign market is through marketing research.

By definition, marketing research means, systematically gathering recording and analysing data to obtain information useful for any marketing decision making process. Marketing research is just as helpful or perhaps even more helpful in international markets as it is in a domestic market.

Researching international markets can be a daunting or time-consuming task and sometimes even both. However, in the long run, the benefits of your hard work would pay off by helping reduce the risks involved in your export plans, consequently avoiding costly mistakes.

There are two categories of market research available when gathering data on an international market. They include:
a. Primary or Field Research
b. Secondary or Desk Research

The more detailed, time-consuming and expensive of the two is Primary Research, and it involves obtaining data tailored to a particular business and all the marketing information it might need. The best way to carry out a field or primary research is via an external agent or distributor to avoid errors when attempting to obtain information on a foreign market.

Secondary research, on the other hand, is considered to be a welcome first step when researching a market. Information gathered from conducting secondary research will often rely on published data and is perceived as ‘good enough’ because in most cases, readily available data might not have your specific product in mind at the time of creation. However, this data is more affordable and the least time consuming of the two. With clear goals, secondary research can save a business a lot of time and money when compared to primary research.

Some factors to look out for when researching an international market include:

  • Laws and regulations of the land
  • Customers’ culture and habits
  • Buyer behaviours and buyer decision-making process
  • Competitors and brand loyalty among consumers
  • Perceived quality levels of customers
    Distribution channels
  • Popular payment methods of the land

Successful market research would highlight essential and noteworthy facts about any region that you would like to conduct your business. This information will help you determine if a market is a right fit for you and your business. Finding the right market to sell to can mean the difference between success and failure in international trade. In the coming days, we will further examine some of the factors listed above.