There are a number of ways to examine and gather direct information on the market(s) you are interested in at a reasonable cost. Gathering market intelligence on product demand, potential agents or distributors, pricing levels and your competition, among other things, are all areas that are of critical importance to your eventual success. Perhaps the most effective way to gather this intelligence is through your participation in the country’s trade shows, trade missions, and industry specific conferences. For the relatively small cost of airfare, hotel, and meals you can attend these conventions, trade shows or conferences and speak directly with potential partners, contacts and even scope out your competition. It’s not necessary for you to have a booth at any trade shows you attend; in fact it is recommended that as a new entrant to a market you just to “walk the floor” to observe and talk with the attendees. If you decide to participate in a government sponsored trade mission keep in mind your business will not be front and centre, but they can and do open doors for future visits.
There is perhaps nothing more important to your eventual success in international markets than the ability to work and market in cultures very different than your own. A society’s culture is shaped in a number of ways through social institutions, language, education, religion, aesthetics, and history to mention a few. By visiting your chosen country you will gain insight into its cultural mindset. This will not be difficult, but will require a willingness to explore, accept, and research.
Understanding a culture is important for every business activity you undertake in a foreign market; from determining your marketing mix, to negotiating contracts, working with agents and distributors, to dealing with customers. There are a host of resources to assist you in understanding cultures, but perhaps the two most important resources are the works of Geerte Hofstede and Edward Hall.
Understanding the Morals and Ethics in Your Market
You will not only need to understand the different laws and regulations of a country, but its concept of morals and ethics as well. These concepts are driven by culture and economics and are often the greatest influencers of how a country’s laws and regulations are upheld and obeyed.