Conduct Export Market Research.
With the advent of the world wide web and assuming your company's presence on the internet, a firm may receive unsolicited requests for quote and even orders. However, both primary and secondary research should be conducted in order to accurately assess a product's chances for export success long term, to identify the most applicable foreign markets, market trends and foreign business practices as well as competitive positioning.
Primary Research: Market data derived specifically from interviewing the targeted foreign customers as well as the sales and distribution channels in your targeted export markets. Often more time and cost intensive, this ultimately is the best form of data gathering to determine product competitive positioning in the targeted markets. Good primary research sources include:
Existing foreign leads, customers, contacts, inquiring foreign distributors and sales representative agencies.
Bench-marking - contacting other manufacturers of similar but non-competing products to learn of other successful export strategies that may have relevance to your export program.
This effort can lead to a wealth of information and contacts in your select foreign markets.
Secondary Research: Market data derived from trade statistics offered by various industry and government sources including trade unions, industry associations, state and federal industry and country specialists. This data is relatively inexpensive although may often be outdated and too broad-based and not as product or market specific more commonly associated with primary research.
The following is a list of resources that should be considered when conducting secondary research:
- US Department of Commerce Market Research Library - an excellent country and product data source of information, the US Foreign Commercial Service (USFCS) of the US Department of Commerce has country and industry analysts in the US and throughout the world based in our consulates and embassies that study products and industries, comprising market reports for the benefit of US firms intending to export.
- US Department of Agriculture Market Research Library - similar to the USFCS, the Agriculture Department has offices and resources in the US and abroad that research market and country data on behalf of inquiring US firms.
- Industry Trade Organizations - It is advisable to contact all trade organizations to which the manufacturer belongs in search of any foreign market data or contacts that may be made available.
- Chambers of Commerce, Sister City relationships, local universities all comprise a list of valuable resources
- USA Trade Online - An excellent source of trade data (import and export) based on the HS and Schedule B code systems.
- 1st identify your product's Schedule B Code - http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/schedules/b/
- Determine through trade statistics if the US has a trade surplus or deficit with that product, and determine if the trends are positive or negative. http://www.census.gov/data/data-tools.html
- Determine with those same trade statistics to what export markets your product is shipped.
Determine how price competitive your product is in those select foreign markets against locally provided similar goods. Effort to involve determining freight and finance costs and any applicable.
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