It doesn’t matter how brilliant you think your product is, if there’s no market for it overseas, your exporting attempts will fail. And just because there is a local market for your product, does not necessarily mean that there will be an international one as well. In fact, the term ‘international market’ is somewhat misleading.
One of the first things you’ll come to realise when investigating the so-called international market is that it is in not homogenous. This is a common mistake made by would-be exporters who fail to realise that each market is different and comes with its own set of drivers, culture, idiosyncrasies and challenges.
As Nelia Schutte, founder of children’s clothing line, Keedo, confirms: “I discovered that different countries all had different tastes and preferred different styles and colours. You need to be aware of what these are if you are going to create a product that will find a market over there. The balance you need to strike is between creating something that is unique while still fitting in with a particular nation’s tastes.”
Getting to Grips with Your International Export Market
So bear in mind that you will in all likelihood not be taking your product to ‘the international market’ but rather to particular markets in one or a group of foreign countries. With so many countries to choose from, where do you begin?
While a great deal of research can be conducted on the Internet, successful exporters agree that the only reliable way to determine if your product has a market in a foreign country, is to investigate that country in person. If you have already found a successful national market (and it’s not advisable that you pursue exporting unless this is the case), start off by drawing up a description of that market.
Then draw up a short-list of countries that you believe might share similar tastes, needs and drivers as your current market (this will depend on the product that you are wishing to export). The next step is to visit these countries – if possible, plan your trip to coincide with trade fairs in your sector. This will give you a good idea of whether the market already has a product similar to yours.
- One of the skills of exporting is knowing what will sell in an overseas market. This requires a great deal of research
- If you are interested in exporting a product, first travel to the countries you want to export to and walk the streets. Look at what is already out there
- You should also visit stores and boutiques for inspiration and ideas
- Visit international trade fairs to keep abreast of international trends
- Read international magazines relevant to the country you want to export to
- The idea is to see what is out there so that you don’t duplicate it, but also to ascertain what people like
- Different countries all have different tastes and style and colour preferences. You need to be aware of what these are if you are going to create a product that will find a gap in the market
- You need to strike a balance between creating something that is unique while still fitting in with a particular nation’s tastes. You may find it necessary to tweak the product’s style to suit different countries