Conducting market research led to new export opportunities
Effective market research shows where there’s potential demand for your product or service, what customers’ expectations are and what competition is already in the space.
There are numerous options when it comes to research, from following social media trends to arranging focus groups with prospective customers. The general rule of thumb is that the more formal the research is, the more expensive it gets.
Tapping into different types of research can make the process more accessible, allowing you to identify new customers without draining your resources.
Balance different research opportunities
Kane Dowell runs gourmet confectionery company Ask Mummy & Daddy. The business is stocked in stores like Selfridges and Next, and he has a clear idea of its target customer: female, aged 25-45, in the ABC1 demographic.
However, Kane’s always looking for opportunities to find new customers. He does smaller research activities on a weekly basis, like looking through Pinterest and Instagram for the top confectionery in different regions and reading industry magazine’s to stay up to date with trends. For more in-depth research, he attends events and exhibitions.
“It’s important for us to always think about what we can do next. We’ve done a lot of consumer events, like Taste of London and Spirit of Christmas. We can show off the brand at its best, but you can also meet people, get insights and find out what they think,” Kane explained.
“Travelling is a really good way to find new customers, but we don’t just jump on a plane and fly. We researched and met up with key people and showed them some samples to see what they thought.”
Kane Dowell, owner, Ask Mummy & Daddy
Finding new customers overseas
A year ago, Kane attended Yummex, an international trade fair for the confectionery industry that is held in Dubai.
“It’s a really well-known candy exhibition. There’s a huge market for confectionery in Dubai and Kuwait, providing you take out the gelatine. They love British brands too.
“Travelling is a really good way to find new customers, but we don’t just jump on a plane and fly. We researched and met up with key people and showed them some samples to see what they thought,” he said.
While flying out to Dubai isn’t an obvious step in most people’s market research plans, Kane recommends looking at the support available if you think you’ve identified customers overseas. He worked with the Department for International Trade, which helped him arrange the trip and put a contribution towards expenses like flights.
Ask Mummy & Daddy has been stocked in a range of Dubai stores for six months. Kane has started researching other regions too, most recently working with an exporter in Scandinavia which has taken 18,000 units.
“You’re not always going to have lots of money or resources to travel, but you can learn a lot from your own research. You can do webinars and attend shows – there’s all sorts of stuff out there,” he said.
Focus your research
Kane’s advice for anyone conducting research is to try and have a single focus.
Whether you’re speaking to customers at an event or researching a new market online, remember what you want to achieve and try not to get caught up with too many opportunities at once.
“When you’re talking to so many people, it can get confusing. If you speak to 100 customers, but 90 of them give different views, you don’t know if you’re coming or going.
“I’m forever thinking of new ideas and forever doing research. People who work with me will tell me to do one thing at a time. It’s important to rein in the research and just focus on a few projects.”
business size: 10-49 People
business type: Retail & wholesale
Top three takeaways
Online research is an easy, accessible way to discover new markets.
Look at events and exhibitions which are popular in your industry.
Stay focused and avoid working on too many projects at once.