Most company executives know that they need to conduct careful marketing research before they prepare to market abroad. Knowing what to do is not the same as knowing how to get it done, however. Because many small- and medium-sized firms are looking at international markets for the first time these days, they frequently go charging off in the wrong direction-or spend tremendous sums on market research. In reality, a great deal of market research can be accomplished for very little money-if you know where to look.
When we are asked to help answer international marketing research questions, we try very hard not to reinvent the wheel or redo research that is readily available. One of the first things we do is check established sources of information on countries, products, markets, competitors, and whatever else our client needs. This typically involves at least seven steps before we are ready to start the primary international marketing research project. These steps can be broken down as follows:
1. Check reference information on countries, products, markets and competitors. We check to see if any multi-client studies have already been done on the area of interest. It may be possible to purchase the needed information at a much more reasonable price than it would cost to conduct a proprietary marketing research project. We start by looking for studies in the publications:
* MarketSearch, the International Directory of Published Market Research. This annual directory provides more than 18,000 multi-client study references throughout the world; it is subdivided by subject based on British SIC classifications.
* FINDEX, the Directory of Market Research Reports, Studies and Surveys. This directory includes company and industry research from Wall Street as well as a variety of multi-client studies published by research firms throughout the world. Coverage is stronger domestically than it is internationally, however.
* Marketing Surveys Index (MSI) includes virtually all international multi-client studies; this directory tends to be most current because it is updated 10 times per year by supplements sent via airmail from London. The subject index is alphabetical, complete, and the coverage is clearly international.
It is also useful to check some general reference guides:
* The European and Far East Regional Directories, published by The Market Research Society in London.
* Croner's A-Z of Business Information Sources. This directory includes categories for company, product, and market information divided for consumer and industrial/commercial markets, and the scope is clearly international.
* Consumer Japan. This publication covers major consumer markets in Japan with specific information on markets, products and key commercial organizations.
* Consumer Europe. This resource covers over 500 products bought by consumers in 17 West European countries; it provides market data and trends for six years through 1988 plus forecasts through 1992. It also includes a directory of major companies.
* Croner's Europe. Here you will find current updates on all EC proceedings of possible interest to international marketers.
Country directories such as Ireland 1990 and publications of industrial development organizations such as the Scottish Development Agency are also useful. Similar publications are available for Japan from JETRO, as well as other national industrial development agencies.
Marketing information is frequently available in published form. We check the European Directory of Consumer Goods Manufacturers, the European Directory of Retailers and Wholesalers, the European Consumer Electronics Directory, the European Electrical Appliances Directory, the European Drinks Marketing Directory, and a variety of similar publications that cover foods, household chemicals, cosmetics, toiletries, and other product categories. …