International market research can be used to: determine new markets, test products and determine public opinions on certain strategies. Although different, they all follow a basic step-by-step process:
- Define the objective of the research
- Identify the actions needed to collect the research
- Identify how to achieve those actions
- Identify the sources of information needed to achieve your objective
- Determine how to collect data i.e. in person, online, in hard copy
- Conduct analysis of the research collected
- Make recommendations based on the information collected
These general stages can be used as a how-to guide in market research. It is recommended that stages one and three should be thoroughly developed and carefully considered. Once the goals, objectives, and actions are defined and your carefully planned research campaign is completed, you will have sufficient data to make correct conclusions and recommendations.
Primary and Secondary Data
There are two types of data to be used in research:
Secondary data (existing data) is information that is easily available on the internet or from governmental sources. It can be valuable information for companies in the beginning stages of market selection. Some examples of secondary data are the CIA World Factbook and the Virtual Trade Commissioner. This data allows companies to determine where the largest markets are, what countries are growing the fastest, which demographic is the largest, and where the business trends are going.
However, secondary data has its limitations. It can be become out-of-date quickly and therefore irrelevant to your research. Also, in some developing countries, secondary data is either non-existent or out-of-date.
Meanwhile, primary data is documentation and research that you have created or conducted yourself. Primary data is usually completed through these methods:
- Interviews and surveys
- Expert estimation
Sources of Data
- Country reports
- Articles in business newspapers
- Studies by consulting firms
- Trade commissioners’ reports
- Reports by commercial banks or international organizations
- Corporate annual reports
- Records of shareholders meetings
- Corporate websites
- Company product catalogues
- Personal interviews with company executives or with company customers
- Market surveys and focus groups
Using the Internet Effectively and Efficiently
The Internet is possibly the greatest business tool you have. It is inexpensive, easy to use, and a world-wide resource. You can use it to gather market information, research both geographic and industry specific markets, inform yourself about country cultures, network with potential partners and identify contacts that will be useful you to in the market(s) you have selected, and provide a marketing platform that can draw customers and potential partners.
Value of Research
In the end, the purpose of market research is to collect information from a variety of sources in order to make conclusions and recommendations on new or existing strategies. It allows your company to address preferences, trends and cultural influences and act on up-and-coming opportunities that you might not have known about otherwise. It effectively gives you new information on your specific targeted group and is essential to your success in a new market.