How to use market research to gather insights about new markets

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Published: 13th August 2012
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A company profits when it can increase the distribution or consumption of its goods, while service companies require more clients or clients with the ability to afford their services. Corporations don’t have problems in commissioning a market research, they have the money to hire a research firm or do it in house. Small and medium size businesses might not have huge budgets to embark on researches; some might find it too technical or complicated or takes time when they assume it is as easy as just setting up a shop and selling.
Nevertheless it is important to know where you are heading to, why, how and what is required for you in the new market. By new market I mean new continent or country. Here are some tricks I want you to remember because they can really determine if you succeed or not in that market.
1. What is the political situation of that country like? Does setting up shop require political influences that might either allow or deny your company that possibility? If your products are B2C, find out if there are any bans associated with people buying such products or limitations to the quotas associated with employing foreign staffs or importing foreign goods. Common sense can be applied here, when you finish with checking out the political situation, move to the next question.
2. What is the legal climate of that country? If some unforeseen circumstances arise, will you be able to consider that country your home advantage in court, or will you have to file the case back in your original country to ensure that you stand more grounds of winning the case, is it even possible there or will a kangaroo trial be conducted and you are denied all rights possible, do they play fair? Check all these because you never can tell what will come along the way.
3. What is the economic situation of that country? Two people were asked to go and check a land where people wore no shoes; they came back with different results. One said that it is impossible while the other said that he should be given a truck load of shoes. You should apply “deep thinking” to find out if you need a new strategy for people to pay or if you can make a trial to see the demand before increasing the risk (investment).
4. Do you know the culture, religious, population, percentage of the young and elderly, percentage of educated people, etc? These questions work well in the B2C sector if you are selling solutions to the government, you have to consider other factors, and if you are selling to businesses you need to ask different questions. The reason you need these questions are that they will help segment your target audience and set your pricing.
5. If you need to manufacture your products in that country, will you need to ship down all machines or can you find them there? Do you need to train people to operate these machines? If your products are broken and the customer sends them back, can you fix them there or do you need to send it abroad? Can you set up an after sales service shop there? How is the supply chain of raw materials that are technology-based, can you get them off the shelf or can it be supplied by locals? It is your shoe and you’ve been wearing it to know where it can hurt!
6. What is the climate and weather conditions like? If you know these, it can help you to make products that can stand extreme weather conditions. The weather might be a crucial thing to know so you don’t send winter jackets to a warm area or you don’t send sandals to an area where the weather is -39 degrees centigrade.
7. How do people currently solve their problems with respect to the proposed solution that you are offering? It might be that they are competitors and you need to know how much their products cost.
8. How do your competitors currently promote their products? How much does it cost? Can you compete head to head or do you need a different approach?
9. Where do people currently find competing products or where should they go to buy your product?
Finally, you could get an intern from the International business department or business administration’s department of a local university to do the research for you if you don’t have the resources to pay for a professional market research firm. The intern can be on a paid or unpaid internship, and if you can get a masters degree student to take up this task then you stand more chances of getting the job done well and you can employ the student to work with you or your company in that market.

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