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Market research and analysis

Find out how to conduct market research when looking to export.

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  • Help to undertake market research into export research

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Research your export opportunities

The 5 main steps to take when conducting research for exporting:

  1. Conduct desk research
  2. Identify potential export markets for your product or service
  3. Analyse each potential market
  4. Conduct market research in your chosen country
  5. Visit the export market

1. How to conduct desk research

Desk research, or secondary research, involves gathering and analyzing all sorts of information which is already available. Desk research gives you a quick and cheap way of learning about the broad aspects of doing business in a particular country.

A variety of resources are available to you when undertaking desk research:

  • Austrade
  • commercial banks
  • bilateral business chambers
  • chambers of commerce
  • export consultants
  • freight forwarders
  • international directories
  • country overviews


You should use as many of these resources as possible in order to cross-check and verify the data you obtain.

2. Identify potential export markets for your product or service

Which overseas markets are likely to offer you the best chance of export success?
First-time exporters should focus on a single or small number of key countries rather than targeting many markets at once.
In large markets, such as China or India, first-time exporters are encouraged to focus on a particular region within that country.

The key factors to consider when choosing an export market:

  • What drives or will influence demand for your product or service?
  • Will your product or service be accepted?
  • Who is your main competitor? Where do they come from?
  • How does the government regulate the market?

3. Analyse each potential market

Once you have decided on a few likely markets based on your desk research, you may wish to do a more in-depth analysis of the market before contemplating a visit.;

The following guidelines will help you analyse and prioritise potential export markets.

Market characteristics
Analyse the size and growth of a market, its various sectors, seasonal or cyclical trends and quality issues are among market characteristics that you will need to consider.

Competitive conditions
Who are your competitors? Are they domestic or foreign? How easy or hard will it be to distribute your product? What barriers exist for newcomers to the market?

Financial and economic conditions
Basic issues such as the cost of doing business in specific markets should be investigated and analysed. What are the costs of doing business in the market?

  • pricing practices and payment terms
  • tariffs and other barriers to trade
  • foreign exchange and currency stability
  • terms of concessional finance.

Cultural, political and legal factors
Language is the most obvious cultural consideration but political stability and the local legal system are also vital factors in identifying the best market for your business.

Other things to consider include:

  • foreign investment and consumer/environmental legislation
  • registration and licensing procedures
  • local labour laws
  • intellectual property protection.

4. Conduct market research in your chosen country

Field research is absolutely vital and should be undertaken after all desk research options have been explored.
Market research agencies can help with primary research by undertaking surveys, focus groups, consumer panels, questionnaires, data preparation and analysis. Carefully controlled product testing may also be undertaken in-market.

Reliability of information
While market research serves the same function in all countries, you must be aware of certain issues that may distort the reliability of information.

These include:

  • availability of data – reliable market data may not be available in certain developing countries.
  • comparability of data – terms can differ greatly between countries and the misinterpretation of data can sabotage even the best strategies.
  • cultural issues – research undertaken in certain markets may be more difficult because of language issues and rates of illiteracy.

5. Visit the export market

The Victorian Government can help you research new destinations through the Access program – which offers a range of in-market services through the global network of Victorian Government Business Offices (VGBOs).
This support helps you to minimise the costs, risks and time when creating or expanding your export market.
A visit to the market or markets should involve direct contact with potential customers, agents, distributors and government authorities and will enable you to build up a more comprehensive picture of business conditions.

Planning your visit

  • identify your best initial visit
  • target a small number of your key priority markets, not every potential destination
  • structure your itinerary but make it flexible enough to allow for schedule changes.
  • at least two people from the business should attend. This includes people with decision-making authority, such as senior executives.
  • include a technical person if the product requires detailed explanations.
  • arrange as many administration details as possible in advance.
  • include time to build relationships with key contacts.Time your visit so it suits both you and your potential clients. Avoid public holidays and understand local attitudes to weekend meetings.
  • think about weather conditions during your visit.
  • consider arranging visits to coincide with international trade fairs or similar.


Making appointments

  • make the most of in-market facilities offered by Victorian Government Business Offices and Austrade. These help save time and money and reduce risk
  • allow enough time for meetings and debriefings, especially if you are using interpreters.
  • learn how to choose and work with interpreters
  • be aware of local attitudes to time management and punctuality – schedule your meetings accordingly
  • learn about local traffic conditions and how many meetings can realistically be held in one day
  • understand and respect local negotiating styles and what may or may not be acceptable in a particular market.Take the time to develop relationships and understand how often return visits are expected.