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International Marketing Research on the Web

By David Gikandi

International marketing research plays an important role in the identification and development of a company#s strategies for internationalization. It enables a business to identify, evaluate and compare potential foreign market opportunities and develop a marketing plan. Research also provides a company with foreign market intelligence to help it anticipate events, take appropriate action, and prepare for global changes.

Before the Internet, businesses had to invest considerable sums of money in international marketing research, which meant that only the largest companies could afford to do so. Today, just about anyone with a PC can conduct a substantial amount of international marketing research all within a matter of hours. Of course, the multi-nationals still have far much better research resources at their disposal, but small import-export businesses can now get almost all the research they need for successful world trade at a price they can easily afford.

Information on the Web is available from many different sources ranging from personal home pages to corporate Web sites and professional statistical and information services. As a rule of thumb, you are more likely to find current, accurate, objective and in depth information from Web sites run by professional information services and government bodies. Not only do they congregate and categorize the information into easy to use formats, but they also have a profit motive that drives them to make sure they provide the best information available. Before the advent of the Internet, you would have expected to pay a few hundred to several thousand dollars for marketing research information in printed and CD-ROM format. Today, the Net has enabled information companies to provide you with the same information online for prices starting at under $8 dollars a month for online access to a range of databases.

To start off your online international marketing research, begin with free resources that give you a cursory analysis of general market variables such as GNP, economic and social indicators, political analysis, and other summary country data. Start with the CIA World Fact Book (www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/index.html) which gives you a political, business, trade and economic fact sheet on all countries around the world. Other good resources for preliminary international marketing research include Web sites belonging to trade associations and government agencies worldwide. Find them with your favorite search engine or directory.

Once you have identified countries that warrant detailed investigation, you now need to use resources that give you a more detailed assessment of the industry market potential. At this stage, these resources should give you an indication of the demand and supply patterns, enable evaluation of regulations and standards, and identify the best market potential for specific products. Free and fee-based services will come in handy at this stage. Web sites belonging to foreign trade associations, embassies and trade missions will get you started on foreign regulations and requirements, most often for free. The harder task of evaluating demand and supply in your industry can be accomplished using several resources. The U.S. Department of Commerce#s STAT-USA service (www.stat-usa.gov) collects business, trade and economic information from 40 government agencies and is an invaluable source for country, industry and market intelligence and reports. (Discounted access to STAT-USA is available at www.access-trade.com).

Looking at customs or port records of imports and exports flowing through a country is a great way to judge not only the demand and supply patterns, but also know who the major buyers and suppliers in your industry are. One service that provides such information is PIERS (Port Import Export Reporting Service), available online at the Global Business Intellibase (www.agte.telebase.com). A third resource for industry analysis would be the archives of business publications, industry journals and newspapers of a particular country. Going through past articles on your industry will give you a picture on the trends, business practices and general environment in that industry. These archives are available either directly from each publication#s Web site or from archive search services, such as the Global Business Intellibase (www.agte.telebase.com).

The final stage in online international marketing research is the locating and detailed evaluation of potential foreign business partners to determine their capabilities and competitive standing. You want to make sure that your foreign partner, supplier or buyer is able to work with you, pay you and help you meet your organizational goals. Getting a list of potential partners, buyers or suppliers can be done using traditional offline methods as well as using online resources such as the Access Global Business Toolkit (www.access-trade.com). With a list at hand, the next thing would be to make sure that these companies actually exist and if they do, what their performance and status is. Several services including Dun & Bradstreet, Hoppenstedt, Kompass, Teikoku and ICC can give you detailed financial, historical and credit information and evaluations on companies worldwide. The cost for this information ranges between $5 and $230 per report, depending on the level of detail required and the location of the company being researched on. Generally, reports on companies in the USA cost the lowest because of the lower cost and difficulty of obtaining corporate data there. All of these services can be accessed centrally from the Global Business Intellibase (www.agte.telebase.com).

As a new international marketing research tool, the Internet benefits everyone. The information suppliers are able to offer more selective, dynamic and up to date information to a larger number of users while saving on publishing, distribution and other costs. Users worldwide are able to get information that was previously impossible or too expensive to come by. And they can get it right from their PC 24hrs a day at a reasonable cost or free of charge. But the biggest benefits go to the small importers and exporters, giving them a fairer playing field, the power of information, and access to new markets worldwide.

David Gikandi is the President of Access Global Trade Exchange (http://www.access-trade.com), a comprehensive online provider of international marketing tools, information resources and affordable international business solutions for small, medium and large companies worldwide.

Article by Access Global Business Toolkit (http://www.access-trade.com), a comprehensive online provider of international marketing tools, information resources and affordable international business solutions for small, medium and large companies worldwide.

Tags: Sales and Marketing


 

 

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