When you are planning your export strategy to expand into a new overseas market, conducting market research to analyse your competition in that market is a must if you want to successfully compete. You must have an idea of the level of competition within the market and whether you can compete with companies that already have a strong foothold in the market. Knowing who your competitors are, what they sell, how they sell and where they sell is a good starting point, but further analysis will provide you with important intelligence that could help you gain a competitive edge.
Research. Research. Research.
The following are the questions you really need answers to in order to fully grasp the competitive landscape of your target market.
1. Who are your competitors?
How many are there? How big are they? Are they a domestic or international competitor? Who has been awarded contracts in your target market?
2. What products/services do they sell?
Do they have a bigger range of products/services than you? How do they differentiate themselves from its competitors? Is the quality of the products or services better than yours? Have they adapted their products to suit the market? If targeting a European market do they have specific product ranges for different countries?
3. What sales channel do they use in your target market?
Do they have a local office/s? Do they use an agent or distributor? Do they sell online?
4. Who are their customers?
This may not be always be possible to find out depending on your market sector, but a quick look at their website and their social media could provide you with some answers. Once you establish who their customers are identify the characteristics and needs of their customers.
5. How do they market their products?
Do they exhibit at trade shows? Most companies will list their planned trade shows on their website and will announce it on their social media platforms. Do they place advertisements in sector publications, and if so, which ones? Do they have brochures and if so, have they been translated to the language of the target market?
6. What is their digital marketing strategy?
Do they advertise online (Search Ads, Display ads, LinkedIn, etc.) and if so, have their ads been adapted for the local market? Is their website geared to the local target market? Is their website professionally translated rather than google translated into the local language? Remember 70% of global internet users do not speak English as their native language. What keywords are they using? Do they have customised content for the target market? Are the images culturally relevant? What Social Media platforms do they use for their target market? How often do they post content? How many followers do they have? Is their content getting a lot of comments, shares and likes? Be aware that some social media platforms are more popular in some countries than others.
7. How is their customer service?
Talk to their customers if possible. Do they have a chat box on their website? Do they speak the language of your target market? A recent survey of 10 European countries by European Language Jobs found that on average only 66% of the population were proficient in English, with the Nordic countries scoring the highest and the Southern European countries scoring the lowest. If your products are technical can your competitors talk about their products in the native language?
8. What is their marketing message?
Do they change their message depending on which country they are targeting? What is the tone of their message?
9. What is their pricing strategy?
Do their prices vary for different countries? Do they offer discounts?
10. Do they have future plans for this market?
You can get a wealth of information from their annual report if a public company, otherwise look at their company blog, press releases. Any talk of opening new offices? New distributors appointed? New product launches?
By getting the answers to the above question you will have a clear picture of your competitors before entering any overseas market. This will then enable you to formulate your own export strategy based on facts rather than assumptions.
If you need assistance in carrying out a competitor review before investing in an overseas market, you can contact me [email protected].