Market research


  • Develop a short list of markets and create a structured search outline.
  • Dig deeper than the basic facts and figures.
  • Gain a feel for the environment by speaking with people operating in the market of interest to you.
  • Seek out practical advice at market-specific seminars.
  • Gather basic information from the Internet.
  • Develop direct contacts with potential buyers.
  • Check out online reports that are available free of charge or sold in chapters.
  • Plan well. A consistent approach produces results.

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.

Austrade’s new Find export markets toolkit shows you how to select markets and diversify your business strategically. It includes step-by-step activities, links to data sources and tips from expert advisers. The tool is currently for food and agriculture businesses. More sectors coming soon. Try the tool, you might be surprised which markets are best for you.

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.

For more information, please call 13 28 78 or submit your enquiry.

Useful websites

Research on international markets including import regulations

Market profiles on the Austrade website

Tariffs and Import duties / surcharges


WTO Tariff Download Facility

Australia’s Free Trade Agreements

Import and exports statistics for export market selection

International Trade Centre – Market Analysis Tools