Conducting Overseas Market Research

Carrying out overseas market research involves a number of steps which are linked in the following order:

Step I

To determine the research objective, for example, feasibility of introducing an existing product in a new market; demand estimation of a new product in the target markets; identification of the most desirable form of export distribution and promotion in a target market or investigation into the cause of buyers complaints / falling market shares etc.

Step II

To determine the areas to be studied and the depth of analysis required.

Step III

A statement on the time and cost related to the market research assignment.

All these steps taken together constitute to research plan.

Once the research plan has been drawn the executive in charge of marketing research has to carry out the assignment. His plan of action would consist of the following elements:

Desk Research:

The activities to be carried out during the desk research phase are:

(1) Collection, processing and analysis of data from all published sources and in-company records.
(2) Discussions with:
(i) Associates /suppliers
(ii) Manufacturers/exporters of the product under research.
(iii) Concerned government departments
(iv) The concerned export promotion council /commodity board:
(v) Chamber of commerce/other trade and industry associations:
(vi) Commercial banks engaged in the financing of foreign trade
(vii) Commercial section of foreign embassies in India.

(3) Preparation of product catalogues promotional literature, price lists in the language of the country to be visited and samples.
(4) Designing and testing of questionnaire;
(5) Drawing up a Checklists for data collection;
(6) Preparation of a list of respondents on the basis of information collected;
(7) Writing to commercial section of Indian Embassy? High Commission in the country to be visited giving details for securing help in meeting relevant organizations.

Field Survey:

The steps involved are:
(1) Contacting the commercial section of Indian Embassy/High Commission.
(2) Fixing up appointment with respondents.

(i) Manufacturers/Importers/distributors wholesaler etc
(ii) Chambers of commerce, industry and trade Association, Association of Commercial Agents etc
(iii) Institutions like Government Department, Import Promotion offices, Commercial Banks, Trade Promotion Organizations.
(iv) Foreign offices of Indian organizations like Export Promotion councils, Commodity boards, branches of Indian banks and firms.

(3) Visit to institutions to collect secondary data which are not available at home.

Problems to be faced in overseas are Research:

1. Problems of numerous market-multiplying the umber of countries in a research project multiples the costs and problems involved, though not in a linear manner.
2. Problems with secondary data Non-availability, lack of reliability and lack of comparability
3. Problems in collecting primary data – People think, feel and generally behave differently from country to country.
4. Different languages create problems of translation and communication. Language and communication difficulties are generally greater in consumer market research than in industrial market research where technical factors are more important.
5. The need for adaptation – The more the research has to be adapted to each market the fewer are the economies of scale
6. Getting responses – People may hesitate suspecting researchers to be a tax officers and information may be passed on to competitors. The respondent may not be able to answer meaningfully due it illiteracy or they may answer without understanding giving a useless response.
7. Infrastructure constraints – Lack of a reliable postal service, non-availability of telephones, lack of commercial infrastructure because of smaller size of foreign markets.

To deal with the problems, it might be necessary to take the help of local nationals and to depend more on individual’s insight and creativity.

Overseas market research is a must for successful export marketing. This is the most effective way of making the company’s operations sensitive to the changing requirements of the international markets. Because of increased availability of published data, many meaningful conclusions on market conditions can now be drawn solely on the basis of desk based research. Only when it becomes impossible to come to a definite conclusion on the basis of secondary data, field search in the overseas market should be embarked upon.

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