Export market research
Stanilewicz says prospective exporters should look into duties and tariffs and if there are particular regulations that apply to the product they want to get into their target country. “You’d look at distribution channels that currently exist for competitors and like products or services, you’d look for trends and opportunities.”
She says sometimes there can be quite a lot information about opportunities generally available. “For example, there’s a lot on aged care in Japan because it’s something they’re trying to find ways to overcome.
“It’s a place to start. If you do a lot of online research and you’re very methodical by the time you come to consultants for help you’ll have a fair idea of why and what it is you want to do in a particular market and how you enter that market.”
Apart from the internet, Stanilewicz says accounting firms such as KPMG and Price Waterhouse Coopers put out annual booklets on doing business in particular markets with information on costs of setting up offshore businesses or manufacturing facilities. Law firms also can help advise on this and identify potential issues with labour laws.
The next step should be seeking out practical advice from others with on the ground experience, at market specific seminars, for example. “We do them, state governments do them, often banks do them and you can test your ideas and thoughts with the speakers or other people who are there,” she says.
“Austrade offers a lot of value add for Australian companies because we have a footprint of 110 offices around the world. We can certainly give some preliminary advice and if the company decides to come over and do some investigative work themselves we encourage them to drop into the Austrade office and meet with the trade commissioner or the development manager.”
Commissioned research tailored to a specific product and providing competitor analysis is valuable, she says. The Queensland Government provides this service free of charge. Austrade offers stepped services starting with an hourly fee and private consultants can deliver detailed information.
This would include where the market is, what the product needs to look like, in what format it is freighted, what the regulatory requirements are, what the sales model should be, how it is distributed, what it will cost and whether it’s worth it, Goodhand says.
“I think the value of consultants is we know what’s important to focus on in many businesses and industries. Government agencies can provide an introduction but it’s not within their scope to take you through and register you, set up your company and get an accountant, find you some staff and then tailor your product to the market. Your research can support your case to get investment too.”
The small stuff
She says when China Blueprint does research for clients they look at all the angles: economic, political, what consumers buy, how they buy and consumer influence.
“The complexity is how do you get that information. Interpreting who has the most access to the market can be really challenging, especially when it’s in a different language and you have the culture issue behind it all.”