What is International Market Landscape Research?
Dear Reader,
2013 might be the year to take the plunge into unknown territory and sell your products or services abroad, or to grow your overseas sales. 
If so, this edition of Better Insight is for you. In it, we look at what’s involved in conducting an international market landscape study.
Read on for a deeper understanding of why conducting international research into new markets is so important. 
If you have any questions about international market landscape studies, click here to email me, or post them via LinkedIn or Twitter.
Happy reading!

Martin Holliss

e: martinh@research-insight.com
t: +44 1235 812 456
m: +44 7931 376501

Why Do International Market Landscape Research?
For businesses looking to expand beyond their domestic markets, our increasingly global economy can provide many exciting opportunities. But at the same time it can prove risky, full of pitfalls and uncertainties. 
One way to eliminate that risk is to commission an international market landscape study.  Just as you would carry out research in the domestic arena before launching a new product, this type of research focuses on a new country or region of the world. Somewhere that holds potential for your company.
Let’s look at a few reasons you might want to commission market landscape research:
To enter a new market
You may be operating successfully in your own country but want to explore potential new markets abroad. Perhaps to satisfy demand, achieve economies of scale or to keep up with your competitors. We explored this issue of entering new markets in our February 2011 newsletter
To make an acquisition
Rather than entering a new country or region “cold”, a market landscape study can be designed to identify existing companies you could acquire. 
To establish where you stand
Understanding your position relative to the competition is vital when you have an established market presence. A market landscape study identifies where your competitors are active, their market share and why their customers buy their products in preference to yours.
To discover future trends
It’s not always about what’s happening in a market right now but what impact future trends may have over the next couple of years. It’s not unusual for a market landscape study to identify clear trends.  

What Does Market Landscape Research Entail?
The scale and type of research involved in a market landscape study very much depends on the questions that need to be answered. 
Desk research
A market landscape study will usually start with comprehensive desk research in both English and the local language (conducted, importantly, by nationals of that language).  An extensive search through competitor, customer, trade association and government websites will be combined with a review of articles in relevant magazines/journals and any relevant paid-for subscription-only sources.  The end result will be a good initial snapshot of a particular country or market. 
Detective-style telephone research
While desk research provides a certain amount of market insight, it rarely delivers everything that is needed.  It may also generate contradictory evidence that needs to be challenged, verified and triangulated.  Detective-style telephone interviews will help you gain a broader and more robust understanding of your market.  Typically, 20-30 telephone interviews should be conducted amongst competitors, customers, agents/distributors, trade associations, government departments, journalists and market analysts.  The wider you cast your research net, the more robust the end result.
In-country qualitative research
If budget permits, it often makes sense to commission classic qualitative research, to better understand views, opinions, experiences, attitudes and perceptions.  In-person executive interviews (or sometimes) focus groups are used to obtain views from competitors, customers and agents/distributors.  Qualitative research will help you refine your proposition and positioning.
Quantitative surveys
While not always needed, the final piece of the market landscape study jigsaw is a quantitative survey.  This will provide statistically-robust data that may be required by the Board before a major investment decision is signed-off. Typically, 400 to 1,000 interviews are conducted (whether by telephone, face-to-face, or online) each lasting 10-15 minutes.  The purpose could be to establish how favourably the market sees your product and how it compares to your competitors.
The end result – a robust market landscape report
Once the different facets of this work have been completed, a market landscape report can be written. This is a comprehensive and robust snapshot of your market within the country or region in question.  It will highlight market size, trends, distribution, purchase criteria, competitor activity and positioning, legislative framework, barriers to entry, and much more.Such a market landscape report will enable you to make valid management decisions (e.g. on whether to enter, invest in, or leave a particular market).  

UK Trade and Investment’s Export Marketing Research Scheme will help you design and carry out market research on all the major aspects of an export venture.  You may be eligible for a grant of up to 50% of the cost of the research – well worth having if you can get it!
Scottish Development International Scheme – a cousin of the UKTI/EMRS scheme.  If you are a Scottish-based company, grants are available from Europe Scotland (EES) to those wanting help entering an export market.  
ICAEW Director’s Briefing – an excellent 4-page summary to export and market landscape research.  Well worth reading.