An introduction on where to find current sources for market research. This information is part of "A Basic Guide to Exporting" provided by the U.S. Commercial Service to assist companies in exporting.
Last Published: 10/20/2016
Sources of Market Research
Many domestic and international sources of information concerning international markets are available. This section describes the market research sources that have been mentioned, as well as some additional ones. Because so many research sources exist, your company may wish to seek advice from your local U.S. Commercial Service office to find the best and most current information.

Research sources range from simple trade statistics, to in-depth market surveys, to firsthand interviews with public- and private-sector experts. Trade statistics indicate total exports or imports by country and by product. They allow you to compare the size of the market for a product in various countries. Some statistics also reflect the U.S. share of the total market in a country in order to gauge the overall competitiveness of U.S. producers. By looking at statistics over several years, you can determine which markets are growing and which are shrinking for your product.

Market surveys provide a narrative description and assessment of particular markets, along with relevant statistics. The reports are often based on original research conducted in the countries studied and may include specific information on both buyers and competitors. 
One of the best sources of information is personal interviews with private and government officials and experts. A surprisingly large number of people in both the public and private sectors are available to assist you in any aspect of international market research. Either in face-to-face interviews or by telephone, these individuals can provide a wealth of market research information. 

Other sources of market research expertise include local chambers of commerce, world trade centers, or clubs and trade associations. Many state governments maintain active export promotion offices. In the federal government, industry and commodity experts are available through the U.S. Departments of Commerce, State, and Agriculture and through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). 

The following sources are divided into several categories: general information about exporting, statistical and demographic information, export opportunities at development agencies, industry information, and regional and country information. 

General Information about Exporting

U.S. Commercial Service (
The U.S. Commercial Service is the first stop for companies seeking export assistance from the federal government. Trade specialists can:
  • Give you information about all government export programs
  • Direct you to your local U.S. Commercial Service office for face-to-face export counseling
  • Guide you through the export process
  • Provide business counseling by country and region on standards and trade regulations, distribution channels, opportunities and best prospects for U.S. companies, tariffs and border taxes, customs procedures, and common commercial difficulties
  • Direct you to market research and trade leads
  • Provide information on overseas and domestic trade events and activities

Extensive market and regulatory information by region and country is available, including assistance with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) certificate of origin and other free trade agreement processes.

SBA Exporting Tools and Resources (
Tools and resources to assist small businesses that are considering exporting or are looking to expand into new foreign markets—publications, training, podcasts, videos,  and success stories.

The U.S. Commercial Service has regional services that will help you find buyers in multiple countries within the same geographic area.  If you are targeting Hong Kong for example, why not stop in nearby Thailand or Singapore?

Market Research Planning