International business success depends on many critical factors that require detailed analysis and many of the data that can guide global companies come from international market research.
Market research is important to businesses because it can provide many information regarding the market, competitors and consumers. Businesses depend on market research to help them effectively and efficiently sell their products.
For companies going global, international market research is vital. It is difficult to obtain all the information for the formulation of business plans, particularly sales, marketing and promotion strategies without market research, since foreign markets are unknown grounds to incoming businesses.
Companies wishing to enter new markets in different countries should be quite thorough when doing research on international markets, because you have to determine:
· What you want to accomplish
· What you should not do
· What to avoid to prevent cultural mistakes
What Makes International Market Research Different?
Business expansion to new markets entails a lot of work. Since foreign markets are relatively unknown, it is important to know everything there is to know about the target locales. This relates to the way international market research is different from domestic market research. When you are opening a business domestically, you have a general idea about the market, your target consumers, competition and government regulations.
But when you venture onto new markets, it is like getting out of your comfort zone. You barely know anything about the new market; therefore you have to gather all the necessary details, from the largest to the smallest.
Why Should You Do This?
Unless you have lived and worked in the target country long enough to feel like a local, what you know about the country is almost nil. So everything you need to know to ensure the smooth entry of your business and attract the local customers would come from international market research.
You must understand that the response of other cultures to new products, marketing efforts and even to new businesses would be different. In Africa for example, they think that the image on the product label indicates the content of the package. Thus, when the Gerber baby food series was introduced in the continent, it failed miserably because the label on the bottle shows the image of a cute white baby. Some cultures even find new uses for products that are different to the product’s intended use.
The Nitty-gritty of International Market Research
Thorough market knowledge is vital to international business success and international market research can provide you with all the data you need to understand your target markets extensively.
You can commission a classic market research which covers issues about the target location. The usual questions remain the same but elevated to the international level. However, expect the answers to differ among countries due to cultural and historical reasons. Because the answers are country-specific, your marketing decisions will differ as well.
A classic research may be done to provide information on the following:
· Development of customer desires and needs
· Perception of the customer regarding your company compare to your competitors
· Adequacy and performance of various marketing tools like services and products, distribution channels, direct sales and product branding, including various communication methods and pricing
· Innovations in marketing methods such as billing schemes, new business models, application of new technology, modification of usual tools for marketing
· Quality of customer services
· Willingness and acceptance to apply new technology
International market research is applicable to strategic business projects, such as the development of new business, to reach the following goals:
· Selection and evaluation new target locales, including checking the potentials of the new market, its attractiveness, the barriers, available sales channels, customer segmentation and the depth of competition
· Prioritizing and profiling of possible customers, compiling target customers for the use of sales managers, and preparation of a list of intermediaries, distributors, resellers, as well as various service facilities and logistics.
· Selection, evaluation and profiling of suppliers and finding information about payment procedures, custom duties and transportation
· Gathering information about work shifts, creating feasibility studies and researching personnel, manufacturers and manufacturing facilities and suppliers
· Identifying available new technologies and applications
· Profiling competitors
How to Carry Out an International Market Research
Entering the international market arena needs careful business planning. One of the first things you need to do is to learn about the target locations. For this, you have to conduct an extensive international market research. It will not happen overnight. You have to build a strong market research strategy. Here are the steps.
1. Carry out a market research before entering the new market.
2. Continuously do an international market research to adapt to new market developments.
3. Find more channels for your research.
4. Think of all possible questions.
5. Conduct the market research methodically.
Several companies offer international market research services. This is a better option for many companies, since the service provider will conduct the research objectively and impartially. They are experts in the business and can give you what you need, including analysis of the data they have gathered, ensuring that you have everything you need to know before you launch your business or products to your target markets. You will have a general overview and specific insights into your target market, more than enough to ensure that your business will be successful in its foray into different territories.
Aiding Business Decisions
International market research is a valuable tool in business planning. You use the data you have to formulate sound business decisions. It is vital for business owners to use data-driven market research and data analysis for most company-based decisions. Running a business does not rely on gut reactions only. When you have excellent market research, you will have a roadmap and specific directions that will maximize your use of money and time, which are essential elements of any business.
Benefits of International Market Research
Critical information about the target countries of international business are revealed through market research. It can provide a company with all the information it needs to make the right decisions before they enter a new market. Likewise, international market research can determine opportunities for new business and provide targeted information regarding specific geographical locations.
It can provide controlled information for marketers and advertisers, compare markets, products and other market variables and supply new ideas for business entry or business expansion. International market research is essential for almost all decision-making departments of a corporation.
The company can decide how extensive the international market research can be.
The results of an international market research form the base of information which is vital when making strategic decisions. You can determine pricing strategies and effective promotional activities that will excite customers. It can provide you the reasons why customers choose one brand over another. It can supply you the clues on what can make them switch brands.
As it provides all the required information about the market and its culture, international market research is your well of information when the company later decides to localize.
Localization for the International Market
Localization is an effective method to ensure that the company caters to the preferences of local consumers. Localization involves ensuring that the company and its products are able to communicate to locals effectively. It means that a global company must fit in very well in the new market, looking and feeling global, with local language and using appropriate imagery and color to suit local preferences.
Data from your international market research can be the keys to unlock the issues with local brand management, consumer demographics, preferences, behaviors and spending power. Analysis of market data can define market segmentation and provide vital information about local culture, traditions and beliefs.
Basing your decisions on data analysis from an international market research carries more weight. You know that you are providing the answers that local consumers are looking for, in order for you to properly communicate with them.
International market research and localization become partners in providing the vital information and the right course of action to take to ensure that a brand properly caters to the needs of the target consumers.
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