International market research

The 3 basic steps of international market research are: screening markets, assessing their potential, and drawing conclusions.

Screen potential markets

  • Collect statistics related to your sector that show product or service exports to various countries.
  • Identify 5 to 10 large and fast-growing markets for your product or service. Look at them over the past 3 to 5 years. Has market growth been consistent year-to-year? Did import growth occur even during periods of economic recession? If not, did growth resume with economic recovery?
  • Consider smaller emerging markets that may hold ground-floor opportunities for you. If the market is just beginning to open up, there may not be as many competitors as in an established market.
  • Target a few of the most promising markets for further study.

Assess target markets

  • Examine trends that could influence demand for your product or service. Calculate the overall consumption of products or services like yours and identify the amount imported.
  • Study the domestic and international competition.
  • Identify what affects the marketing and use of the product or service in each market, such as channels of distribution, cultural differences and business practices.
  • Find out if you will encounter any trade barriers (tariff or non-tariff) in your potential market, as well as any Canadian barriers (such as export controls) affecting exports to the country.
  • Search for Canadian or foreign government incentives to promote the export of the product or service.

Draw conclusions

  • Analyzing the data you have collected should help you decide which markets to go after, and assist in the development of your export plan and marketing strategy.
  • If you are new to exporting, experts recommend that you focus your energy on no more than one or two countries at a time.

Find more information on international market research:

  • International markets
    Discover new markets for your products and services by studying foreign market reports and international statistics.
  • Country Insights
    Get cultural, demographic, and political information on countries with whom you would like to conduct business.
  • Step-by-Step Guide to Exporting
    Find out what you need to know about exporting, including international market research, export planning, marketing, finances, logistics and legal aspects.
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