Step by step guide to market research
Last Published: 10/18/2016
Step 1: Find Potential Markets
  • Obtain trade statistics that indicate which countries import your type(s) of products.
  • Perform a thorough review of the available market research reports in the country(ies) and industries in question to determine market openness, common practices, tariffs and taxes, distribution channels, and other important considerations.
  • Identify five to ten large and fast-growing markets for the firm's product(s). Analyze them over the past three to five years for market growth in good and bad times.
  •  Identify some smaller but fast-emerging markets where there may be fewer competitors.
  • Target three to five of the most statistically promising markets for further assessment. Consult with U.S. Export Assistance Center near you.
Step 2: Assess Targeted Markets
  • Examine consumption and production of competitive products, as well as overall demographic and economic trends in the target country.
  •  Ascertain the sources of competition, including the extent of domestic industry production and the major foreign countries the firm would compete against.
  •  Analyze factors affecting marketing and use of the product in each market, such as end-user sectors, channels of distribution, cultural idiosyncrasies, and business practices.
  •  Identify any foreign barriers (tariff or nontariff) for the product being imported into the country and identify any U.S. export licenses you may need.
  •  Identify U.S. or foreign incentives to promote exporting of your product or service.
  •  Determine whether your product is price competitive after you've figured in packaging, shipping, marketing, sales commissions, taxes & tariffs, and other associated costs. See "pricing considerations".
Step 3: Draw Conclusions
If the company is new to exporting, it is probably a good idea to target 2 or 3 markets initially. Your local US Export Assistance Center can provide valuable insight into your "optimal" market opportunities.

Step 4: Test Demand
There are a number of low-cost on-line and off-line services that can help new exporters gauge foreign market interest and collect overseas inquiries:

Prepared by the International Trade Administration. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the International Trade Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting

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