Posts Tagged ‘market research’

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4 Ways Understanding Data Can Inform Your Export Strategy

June 18, 2014

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Kenneth R. Mouradian is the Director of the International Trade Administration’s Orlando U.S. Export Assistance Center.

Relying on export data can make your international business ventures more profitable.

Understanding the facts behind export data can make your international business ventures more profitable.

Numbers can be misleading, especially when they’re used as a proxy for quality thought in decision making.

Now, let’s be clear, here. When I say that numbers can be misleading, I’m assuming that you’re looking at an X and a Y axis with data points and no text except that which is necessary to label the graph. Alternatively, you’re looking at 10 numbers: five years and five corresponding dollar amounts or volumes. That’s where a lot of U.S. exporters begin their market research; and, if that’s where their research ends, that’s a problem.

Potential exporters need to look behind the data points on the graph by asking some important questions:

  • What happened before the trend?
  • What happened after the trend?
  • What caused the trend?
  • Can you compete (i.e., price, quality, terms of sale, features, post-sales support)?

Here’s a hypothetical: Imagine for a moment that you sell building products and the data indicate a 5-year growth trend in Timbuktoo for exactly what you sell. Assume, too, that the data are two years out of date and that you don’t follow soccer. Little did you know that Timbuktoo hosted the World Cup two years ago and that, if you had more recent data, you’d see a drop in demand for building products once the stadium, exercise buildings, dormitories, and tourism infrastructure had been completed.

I should also mention that all the best relationships were probably formed well before construction started. Should you spend much time exploring the Timbuktoo market? Based on what little we know about your company and Timbuktoo from this example, there’s nothing exceptional about Timbuktoo but you wouldn’t know that from statistics alone.

So, what’s a company with limited resources supposed to do to identify potential export markets? Here are a few ideas:

  • Use raw data only as a starting point. TradeStates Express and the UN Comtrade Database are two great online sites where you can find raw data and begin your researching process.
  • Use reports to improve understanding. General reports and information about export opportunities can be found at the Market Research Library.
  • Consult “people in the know” to challenge assumptions. ITA offers business counseling and can provide the inside scoop for companies looking to export. U.S. and foreign trade shows are also a great resource for businesses who want to learn more about the exporting opportunities available to them. The District Export Council can also be a source of information and counsel to those who need.
  • Visit the Market. The U.S. Department of Commerce, World Trade Centers, state and local Economic Development Organizations, and chambers of commerce organize trade missions and can facilitate your visit to the market to make contacts for future deals. Contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center to get more information.

In addition to your local U.S. Export Assistance Center, more info about government-wide services and resources for exporting are available at www.export.gov.

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ITA Helps Business Look South with Market Research

February 20, 2014

Laura Ebert is the Chile Desk Officer in the International Trade Administration’s Office of South America.The Look South campaign is encouraging companies to seek export opportunities in Latin America.

Before entering a new market, your business needs to be prepared. There are a number of market specific data you should understand to get an idea of your product’s potential success, including:

  • market size;
  • sophistication;
  • growth trends;
  • distribution channels; and,
  • regulatory considerations.

The problem is that market research can be time consuming and data on foreign markets can be confusing or difficult to find.

That’s where the International Trade Administration’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service comes in!

Our Commercial Service offers a number of resources to assist you and your business with conducting market research and due diligence in your target foreign market.

Our Market Research Library contains more than 100,000 industry and country-specific market reports, written by our specialists working on the ground in each market.

Here you will also find the Country Commercial Guides, in-depth “how to do business” guides that provide a comprehensive look at the commercial environment in more than 80 overseas markets. The guides also highlight the top “best prospect” markets in each country for U.S. exporters.

As we focus on helping U.S. companies do business with our 11 free trade agreement partners in Latin America through the Look South initiative, we’ve now taken our Country Commercial Guides and made them easier to use than ever.

Want to know which Look South countries are top prospects for your product? Find out at a glance by visiting the Look South Best Prospect Sectors page and clicking on your industry. You’ll be able to see the list of most promising markets and download market snapshots for each country.

Already planning to target a specific country? Visit our Look South Countries page and choose your country from the list at the bottom of the page. Look for your industry among the best prospect sectors and download the market snapshot in just one click!

If you don’t see your industry or target market listed, don’t panic! There is very likely an opportunity for your product in more than one Look South country. Just contact your local Export Assistance Center for further information.

Other free resources include access to U.S. trade data and a series of events, webinars, and teleconferences that give you a chance to learn about new markets first hand or with on-the-ground experts. Check out the upcoming trade events and educational opportunities for Look South here.

In addition to these free public resources, your company can request more in-depth, tailored market research (for a fee) to answer your particular questions regarding the market for your product and services. We can also provide due diligence reports on potential overseas business partners (also for a fee) to investigate the capabilities, legitimacy, and financial strength of a potential overseas business partner.

Contact your local commercial service office to find out more about these services.

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Commerce Partnership to Benefit Minority-Owned Exporters

January 24, 2014

Antwaun Griffin is Deputy Assistant Secretary for U.S. Field Operations with the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

Antwaun Griffin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations within the International Trade Administration’s U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service, helping oversee all aspects of the Department’s trade promotion and export assistance services.

Antwaun Griffin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Domestic Operations within the International Trade Administration’s U.S. Commercial Service.

This post originally appeared on the Minority Business Development Agency’s blog.

Did you know that according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data, minority-owned firms are twice as likely to export as other U.S.-owned businesses? The data indicates that minority-owned firms are best positioned to succeed and expand in the growing global economy. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers outside of the United States, exporting enables businesses to boost their bottom line while building their international competitiveness. For many U.S. firms, international diversification has enabled them to weather changes in the economy much better than if they had been selling only in their backyard.

That said, many more minority-owned firms could be exporting more. Many business owners that I meet don’t export, in part because they believe exporting is too burdensome, or they’re unaware of the various resources available to assist them. However, expanding your business through exporting is more viable today than ever before. If you have a good track record of selling in the United States, one of the most open and competitive markets in the world, you are likely a good candidate to make overseas sales.

In 2010, President Obama launched the National Export Initiative (NEI), aimed at expanding federal government-wide efforts to assist exporters while supporting millions of U.S. jobs.  These efforts have helped contribute to record U.S. exports culminating in an all-time high of $2.2 trillion in 2012. As a result of the NEI, more and more businesses are taking advantage of key export tools and resources to expand their global market share.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker has made expanding exports, including for minority-owned businesses, a key part of the trade and investment priority in the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business Agenda.” Specifically, the Agenda calls for Commerce to lead NEI 2.0 – the next phase of the successful National Export Initiative – to develop a long-term strategy for orienting more American businesses toward the global marketplace, set new export goals, and coordinate federal activities to support these goals.

A prime example of this effort is a strategic partnership between my agency, the International Trade Administration (ITA), and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). With a network of 40 MBDA Business Centers across the United States, MBDA has unique relationships and is well-positioned to support NEI 2.0. ITA’s worldwide network of international trade professionals offers a depth of technical expertise in more than 100 U.S. cities and over 70 countries worldwide. Under this active partnership, both agencies will look to complement and build on each other’s domestic and global relationships.

Together, the two agencies already counsel thousands of U.S. businesses each year, and through this partnership, businesses looking to identify new foreign markets or expand their exports will be better positioned to access the services of both agencies through cross referrals, enhanced sharing of information, and joint trade promotion efforts. For example, MBDA clients can gain exposure and greater insight early on about the benefits of developing an international business plan and information on various federal programs for exporting, such as ITA’s U.S. Commercial Service market research—valuable assets when it comes to long-term strategic planning. Many MBDA clients pursuing government contracts abroad might also be interested in learning more about U.S. Commercial Service Advocacy Center efforts, which last year helped facilitate billions of dollars in overseas opportunities for U.S. companies bidding on foreign government contracts. Likewise, U.S. Commercial Service minority business clients might benefit from MBDA’s broad technical assistance, export financing options, and an array of specialized services available to minority-owned business concerns.

So whether your business is a startup or more established, I encourage you to visit www.export.gov to learn more about our programs and people.

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How Commercial Service Helps Exporters

May 6, 2009

Patrick McRae is a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service. He is currently assigned to the Grand Rapids,Michigan Export Assistance Center.

My colleagues and I assist Michigan-based firms access and develop foreign markets. Truth be told though, many small or medium-sized firms were quite reluctant to consider international sales, especially when things were going so well domestically…

Economic downturn, however, has greatly enhanced our business community’s interest in international markets. In fact, I just had a conversation with a potential new-to-export firm that went something like this:

Me: “So, you have a good product here…you really should think about selling overseas.”

Potential Exporter: “Sell internationally? Don’t you have to be a major player to go international? I really need to increase sales! How do we go about it?”

At which point I assured him that almost any product is exportable, regardless of the size of the firm, and the Commercial Service can help make it happen!

Another counseling session successfully underway….

I went on to explain that the export process usually begins with an assessment of a firm’s “export readiness” where an international trade specialist sits down with the client to review the firm’s readiness to explore and implement export related activities.

Next comes the market research phase, where we identify “best prospect” markets. Commercial Service trade specialists carry out basic research, using an extensive array of trade data bases compiled and maintained by the ITA. These services are typically offered free of charge. Once basic research indicates potential export markets, our clients may choose to pursue specialized market research in order to gain more detailed market insight such as competitive presence, pricing, nature of relevant supply chains, etc. These services are typically provided for a small fee.

With this enhanced understanding of the target market, a client may wish to meet with key in-country contacts such as potential distributors, sales agents, strategic allies or joint venture partners. Through our Gold Key Service, we will identify, screen, select and set up meetings so that in a matter of days, clients may begin to forge the relationships that will be critical to future export success!

At this point, having gone through the pre-export research and planning process, you will design and implement a well thought-out international business plan and begin the cycle of planning-implementation-assessment-adjustment.

I wrapped up the conversation with an assurance that trade professionals throughout the ITA will be there to assist in the transition from export-novice to export-expert!

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