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There is always something new to discover, in order to keep up with the pace of change. Companies and individuals seek to push the boundaries of market research further than ever before to find exciting new ways to deliver real value.
Market research uncovers a wealth of information. If you’re looking to expand your business internationally, it’s tempting to get overzealous and just dive in. But that’s a bad idea if you actually want your business to succeed in other countries.
“The worst mistake you can make as an entrepreneur is shooting in the dark – you simply waste your time and resources without anything to show for it.”
Market research is the groundwork you need to do market expansion. Not only will it help you to establish your target customers, but also where to reach them. Furthermore, it will indicate their pain points and how to best address them in your approach to sales and marketing.
When it comes to conducting market research abroad, you may wish to use a mixture of traditional and contemporary methods. Take a look:
1. Conduct Online Surveys
Surveys are the most popular research method for customer experience professionals. It’s easy to see why, particularly when it comes to online surveys. They allow you to gather large amounts of data in a short space of time and are easy and inexpensive to execute.
If you have a lot of website visitors from other countries, you can segment your audience. Offer incentivized surveys to international segments via your website or email list.
You can also use a third party service, such as Survey Monkey, to carry out online surveys for you. They work with participants all over the world. So, you can share your key demographics with them and they will gather the data.
2. Perform a Local Search
Remember when Google used to let you browse the search engine from another country? Those were the good old days. Because you likely want to see what kind of results Google provides for your keyword in a foreign market.
Let’s say you want to expand your online phone case store into Europe. However, when you type in related keywords, you only see results from US stores. Even if you type in “phone cases UK”, you aren’t necessarily going to get localized results.
The only way to get localized search results now is to hide your IP address. You can do this using a VPN, which directs your traffic through a server in another country. NordVPN, for example, has servers in 61 countries.
3. Collect Data from Online Resources
The way in which information is disseminated these days has opened up so many doors. For our purposes, it means you can easily collect international data. There are goldmines of information online, which you can use for free.
For example, US census data is available online. Many other countries have statistical bureaus which share similar information online. This alone could be supremely useful.
Another fantastic resource is Google Trends. You simply type in a search term, choose a country and the tool will show you the amount of interest in that topic over time. You can use it in a broad sense to see if interest in your product is increasing or decreasing in a region.
4. Carry Out Primary Research Offline
Traditional market research methods endure, quite simply, because they work. As you may know, primary research means collecting data through direct contact with potential customers. This usually happens through interviews or surveys, in person or on the phone.
When it comes to performing this kind of research internationally however, there are things you need to bear in mind. For instance, you may encounter translation issues that skew your results. Furthermore, some demographics may be more susceptible to a response bias than others.
The solution is to ensure that the local team who are carrying out the surveys have very clear instructions as to the reasoning behind each question and what data and reports you require once complete.
5. Analyze Competitors
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your own plans but you won’t succeed if you only focus on your business. Competitor analysis will help you get a better understanding of the market and where you will fit in.
Put together a list of areas you wish to analyze. This might include the following aspects, for example:
- What types of products your competitors sell to target buyers.
- Which types of media they use to successfully market these products.
- Their unique selling points.
- What threats they pose to your growth within the market.
Then you can create reports on your competitors to work out their strengths and weaknesses compared to your brand’s strengths and weaknesses.
6. Network Overseas
The best way to learn about a foreign market is to network with local professionals within that market. You may also find that you are presented with business opportunities.
How assuredly can you get your foot in the door? One idea is to visit international trade shows and attend local seminars about your industry. You could also make contact with local trade associations.
You may wish to work with an international consultant who can help you with marketing and trade, for instance by giving you advice on local regulations. Furthermore, you should speak with others in your industry who have successfully expanded in other countries. They could provide you with great advice.
You don’t need to take a leap of faith. Market research will arm you with the hard data you require for a successful expansion into international markets.
Technology can help you conduct your research from outside the country easily. You can perform local searches using the right tools and gather information from numerous resources.
Another way to gather data is to use proven methods, i.e. contact with real-life potential customers, as well as colleagues and advisors.
Now it’s time to get started. Weigh up the costs and benefits of these methods to decide which will prove most lucrative for your business.
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