February 2009
How Can Market Research Help You Maximise Export Success?

Dear Reader,

Welcome to ‘better insight’, the newsletter packed with research know-how to keep your business ahead of the field.

With the dramatic slide in the value of Sterling, and despite the recession, there has rarely been a more compelling time to start exporting from the UK, especially to our fellow EU countries and North America.

But nowhere is fact-based decision-making more critical than when planning to venture into the export marketplace.

While trying to export without robust research is a recipe for disaster, using robust research to inform your export plans and decisions can help your business really go places – in every sense.

So read on for some tips on how to reap the rewards (and avoid the pitfalls) of ‘going global’.

Rest assured, the export team at Research Insight really is standing by…and, comprising several nationalities, our hat stand is well stocked!

Happy reading!


Martin Holliss

How Can Market Research Help You Maximise Export Success?

1. Firstly, is exporting right for your business/market? Go back to basics and ask yourself this question.  Low-cost feasibility research will save you from costly failure trying to enter a market that’s not right for you. It will also help you decide where to focus your effort.

2. Be clear on what you want to achieve. Entering a new export market is a huge step, and is not one to be rushed.  It’s worth taking time to think carefully about what you want to achieve and why.  If you’ve already made a definite decision to export, do you need a more thorough prioritisation of the opportunity in several countries or a clear understanding of one specific country?  Or do you simply need profiles of potential customers and names of their key contacts?

3. Understand the market(s) you’re entering. Export research will identify the market size/trends, and your competitors, their strategies and major clients.  It can also highlight the most successful distribution channels and define the customer decision-making process.  It will point up cultural issues and aspects that you will need to take into account. Extensive desk/secondary research is usually needed as well as targetted ‘detective-style’ telephone conversations.  Sometimes in-person research may be needed.

4. Use experienced export researchers. Managing a research project in one country (whose language, culture and market structure you understand) is complex enough.  Now imagine exploring several different cultures/markets, in several different languages and several time zones!  Export research calls for different skills from ‘standard’ research, so make sure that your chosen agency has a solid track record.  Then work with them as a partner.  The more background you share, the more they’ll be able to add value.

5. Avoid pitfalls that lead to unreliable results. Sloppy translation and cultural differences between nationalities are two common pitfalls.  Just translating a document is not enough.  “Back translation” (back into English) is also needed to be sure that the translated text mirrors the original.  While telephone research may be fine in European countries, often in-person research is better, and is sometimes needed.  And, in some countries if someone says ‘I would buy this product’ they may actually mean ‘I would not buy this product’…but they don’t wish to offend you by saying it to your face.  You need to know these things, but do you?!

6. Tap into available grants. Why pay the full cost of your research if you can get someone else to contribute?!  The Government-funded Export Market Research Scheme (EMRS) will normally pay either 33% or 50% of the cost of your research.  All you have to do is follow some simple guidelines and obtain quotations from 3 different research agencies.  While you can decide which agency to commission your research with, here’s a hint…Research Insight is selected in a high proportion of cases!

7. Talk to the experts! If you’re thinking about exporting for the first time (or entering a new market), why not talk to us?  We’re in a great position to design an export research study for you, to reveal and explore the differences between countries and the opportunities presented by each one.  You can call us on +44 1235 812456 or send us an email.  We’d be delighted to help.


Export Research Case History
A manufacturer of temperature-controlled packaging (for medical/pharmaceutical products, amongst others) wanted to understand the opportunities in an Asian market.

Having obtained an EMRS research grant (see above), extensive desk/secondary research and data modelling was used to establish that the market was sufficiently large.  It also highlighted the company’s main competitors (both local and international) and their sales strategies, identified the main routes to market, and produced a list of the high-volume buyers/users of such packaging.  Telephone research (in both English and the local language) enabled us to profile the main customers, competitors and distributors.

After contacting the customers and distributors of particular interest, our client then visited the country to open sales and distribution negotiations.  The market intelligence they had from our research proved pivotal in these negotiations.

The end result?  A highly successful market entry (the client is now one of the main suppliers in the country concerned), which led onto a market entry study for a second (even larger) Asian country.


If you are considering exporting, here are some useful sites you should visit:

UK Trade & Investment offers a range of services and resources to any business wishing to expand overseas.  Their Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS) and Export Market Research Scheme (EMRS) are two services you should definitely consider, especially if you are new to exporting.

The Gov.uk website also has lots of useful information to help businesses enter the international arena.

And if you’re interested in exporting to (or even sourcing from) China and want to brush up on business culture/etiquette, or perhaps if you’d like assistance during negotiations, do take a look at the China Insight website.  Their key aim is to help you reach your China business goals.


What else do we do?

At Research Insight we don’t just help clients with research into overseas markets.  We also help consumer and b2b clients discover more about their home market.

Our clients cover a huge range of consumer and b2b sectors, internationally.  You name it, we’re likely to have worked in it!

A wholly-independent research consultancy, the hallmark of our approach is to be practical, problem solving and action-focused.  If that sounds like what you need, drop us an email or call us on +44 1235 812456.