by Selma Canas, CGBP | December 22, 2021
In part two of this series, “Who Can Help,” I provided information on the many resources available to enterprises that are looking to expand internationally – the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS), Enterprise Florida (EFI), Global Tampa Bay (GTB) and the Florida SBDC at USF (SBDC). These resources can also help with market research to answer the question, “Where to Export.”
Conducting market research takes a lot of time but is definitely time well spent. Start by looking at trade flows, which shows where there is demand for a product. The data will show which countries are importing the most of a product from all countries as well as from the U.S. Determining the U.S. market share of a country’s imports identifies those countries that are friendly to “Made in the U.S.” products. UN Comtrade Database has free access to detailed global trade data.
Analyzing the industry is an important part of identifying key indicators of what is driving the industry on a global scale. Databases that provide industry reports include IBISWorld, MarketLine, and Euromonitor. These are paid subscription databases but may be available in local libraries or from resource partners.
Industry reports provide critical market information such as industry performance, trends, outlook, competitive landscape and much more. There are also industry specific databases, like Kalorama, the leading publisher of market research in medical markets. These reports provide very specific data by segment and are a great resource for any medical device manufacturer.
Industry trade associations provide very beneficial information, such as, outlook and trends, industry events and resources, membership directories, data and annual reports. Some examples include:
- IATA – International Air Transport Association
- Safe Kids Worldwide
- IBPA – Independent Book Publishers Association
- GAMA – General Aviation Manufacturers Association
- NAFA – National Air Filtration Association
Open source databases provide information on key indicators that are driving a specific industry. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) provides data by country that would include important key indicators for medical device manufacturers, such as, physician density per 1000 population, hospital beds per 10,000 population, and current health expenditure. The World Bank provides data by country for education, economy, environment, gender, health, infrastructure, and many more indicators.
Another way to research global demand is by analyzing competitors. Companies share a great deal of their global activities on their websites. You may find the tradeshows they will be participating in or have in the past and may want to consider participating as well. Tradeshow websites typically have a directory of exhibitors which is a great way to identify potential customers, partners and competitors.
Google’s Market Finder tool uses keywords to show the number of searches by country. You enter keywords related to your product and/or service and easily see which countries are searching those keywords per month. It is a great indicator of demand and can help identify potential countries for exporting.
Market research is a critical part of any export expansion plan as it can save a lot of time and money. By researching pertinent indicators, demand and competition, you will be able to rank countries and choose the two to five countries with the best potential for your industry, product and/or service.
The international trade specialists at the Florida SBDC at USF have access to many databases that would be cost prohibitive for the small business owner. They develop export marketing plans customized to a company’s industry, product and/or service, and target markets.