How to Research Export Markets

A guide to what small and medium enterprises should do before launching overseas

How to Research Export Markets

Should I visit potential markets?

Actually visiting a potential market will give you an unparalleled understanding of how your product or service might fit in. However, it is vitally important to plan the trip correctly, and conduct all the desk-based research you can before shelling out for plane tickets.

To get the most out of visiting potential markets, take the following steps:

  1. Put together a detailed itinerary. Work out exactly what you want to achieve from the visit, and compile a timetable so you know what you will be doing on every given day. Set up meetings with as many potential stakeholders as possible, including retailers, distributors and potential customers.
  2. Brush up on the language. If you are visiting a non-English speaking market, some basic transactional knowledge of the local language is likely to go a long way. If you will be meeting with non-English speaking suppliers, retailers or distributors, see if you can book a translator or interpreter for your visit.
  3. Contact a UKTI adviser. Arrange a meeting with an adviser using this online form – they will be able to offer advice and support to get the most out of your trip, whatever your sector or target market.
  4. See if you can join a trade mission. UKTI also runs trade missions to specific countries, which are subsidised events in which you can meet leading business figures in different markets. Find out about upcoming trade missions here.

How can I reduce my research costs?

There is no doubt that researching export markets can be very expensive, especially if you plan to hire an agency or visit the market yourself. However, there are various ways you can keep costs down, including:

  • Export grants: UKTI offers independent advice and financial support for businesses wishing to research export markets under its Export Marketing Research scheme. Your local council may also offer grants and other support – find your local council here.
  • The Passport to Export scheme: This is a 12-month scheme, also delivered by UKTI, which assigns you with a local trade expert who will work with you to produce a detailed export roadmap. The scheme also provides matched funding of up to £1,000 via an export voucher scheme.
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