Not just facts and figures
Market research should not be an academic exercise of assembled facts and figures. Good market research entails finding out what actually drives a market – and how to get the best out of it.
What is market research?
Market research involves finding out about things you need to know such as import duties, regulations, distribution channels, market size and growth, competition, demographics and local production – so you can assess market opportunities and the costs of capturing them.
Gathering this information is usually straightforward and helps you understand how a market operates. The most valuable element of market research is information about ‘market feel’. How will your product or service compete in the environment where you will be doing business?
What is ‘market feel’ and how do I get it?
Market feel is a first hand appreciation of how buyers operate, the dynamics of business meetings, what your competitors are doing and potential obstacles to market entry.
Sound market research will encompass intelligence from people who are streetwise and can convey market knowledge in a practical fashion. This includes descriptions of the types of buyers you will meet, how they negotiate, cultural factors in business dealings and a flavour of the market environment.
Try to gain a sense of how business is done by speaking to companies with experience. Attending seminars on “How to do Business” in various countries really helps.
Where do I start?
The first step is to gather basic market information ranging from import regulations to exchange rates. This is available from a multitude of free online sources.
The next step is to narrow the focus to your product or service and here the process becomes much more specific. You may think ‘but my product or service is different’ and this is where commissioned research is so valuable. This is when you start to present your product and service to overseas buyers and get their reaction.
At this stage of the market research process you should pay particular attention to how your competitors operate. You can gain responses by sending product data or samples to overseas buyers – but their reaction to ‘cold mail’ will usually be passive unless your product really excites them.
You will gain more by having an Austrade representative in the market showing samples for you, or by meeting overseas buyers during their visits to Australia.
How do I get best value from a small budget?
Smart Internet searches will provide the basic data you need on overseas markets.
Austrade as well as state and territory government agencies can help you determine the best way to obtain tailored research.
Austrade can also directly provide commissioned market research, tailored to your needs. State and territory governments may be able to assist where they have overseas offices or affiliates.
Market research companies sell sections of their reports in particular countries at much lower prices than the full report. The Australian Government's Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) scheme can help meet these costs and state and territory governments may provide grants too.
It’s not complex
It’s easy to get swamped by market research data. Follow a logical structure to make sure you get the essential information. Look at sample research reports on the web to gain an idea of how good material is presented. Your export adviser can help.
Market research means being methodical. Develop a clear vision and pursue each of the elements of the research program, starting at the country level and refining your search to the specific level of your product or services.
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The Asian Development Bank – www.adb.org
ADB offers good background data on its member countries at. Click on the ‘Regions and Countries’ tab at the top of the home page.
Austrade – www.austrade.gov.au/industrycountry
Austrade’s website provides country and industry data as well as links to other sources.
CIA website – https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html
Provides information on country profiles.
CorporateInformation – www.corporateinformation.com
Offers extensive links to sites offering corporate information in over 80 countries.
The Council for Australian Arab Relations – www.dfat.gov.au/caar/
Provides examples of what to expect in meetings in the Arab world. Also check out the business guides on the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Federation of International Trade Associations (FITA) – www.fita.org/webindex.html
Provides links to information on a wide range of international trade and import/export topics. It also has a trade leads service.
Global Edge – http://globaledge.msu.edu/resourceDesk/
International business portal providing country guides, links to global information resources and a discussion forum.
IBIS World – www.ibisworld.com
Produces reports on a range of industries.
Industry Canada – www.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/inimr-ri2.nsf/en/gr-01000e.html
Has an excellent portal which guides you through company and industry information in grid format, most of it supplied by the US government.
Market Research – www.marketresearch.com
Covers a huge range of topics and also ‘slices’ its reports. This company draws together reports from a wide range of respected research organizations – but it can be expensive. Spend time searching the site.
The Research and Markets Company – www.researchandmarkets.com
Sells market research reports covering major products and markets.
The WA Department of Industry and Resources – www.dsd.wa.gov.au/documents/guide_to_exporting.pdf
A good market research checklist.
FAO – http://faostat.fao.org%20%20for/ – For food and agricultural statistics the FAO database is first class.
United Nations – http://unstats.un.org/unsd/default.htm
World Bank – www.worldbank.org/data