I have since covered separate articles on how to either export or import goods as a Zimbabwean company. Whilst working on those articles I was tempted to go in-depth on a number of areas. One of those areas was how to conduct market research, particularly when intending to export. Given the density of the subject I thought it best to do an article solely on that. That is why today I am covering how you can carry out export market research for your Zimbabwean products. The vast prospects to be found in selling to export markets make this article a gold mine.

Marketing Objectives And Guidelines

Setting marketing objectives and guidelines should be the starting point. It is unwise to jump right into export market research without first laying out the objectives and guidelines. Once you have these in place you will better know how and where to market your products. Three of the major considerations here are your production capacity, the available budget, and your ability to adapt products. By factoring in all of this you can have a clearer picture of your export market research focuses.

Export Market Research Approaches

There are two broad approaches to conducting export market research. These are desk research and field research. Opting for either is informed by many factors but it would be wise to use both.

Desk research entails collecting, summarising and analysing data already available in the public domain such as company records, published government reports, and information in newspapers, magazines, and on the internet. Field research involves an organised and formal in-market field trip to gather new data using methods such as face-to-face interviewing and direct observation.

Typically desk research must be foundational. Only after some desk research can the need for field research become apparent. Field research can involve activities like personal interviews, telephone interviews, electronic questionnaires, and store checks, amongst others. At the end of the day, you want to strike a balance between cost-effectiveness and comprehensiveness of gathered insights.

I appreciate that some people can effectively do either or both of the two by themselves. However, in some cases, it might be better to outsource from an experienced individual. For example, I have been hired to conduct market research before. So if one has the capacity to pay an expert to conduct the export market research that would be great.

Zoning In On The Target Markets

When starting out the export market research take a look at the broader picture. So you start by looking at comprehensive data on things like country size, population size, living standards, and so on. When you have all these details you can then zone in further.

You will now look at things like the volume and value of sales and imports of the product being researched, the tariff and non-tariff barriers; levels of duties and surcharges; health regulations; packaging and labelling requirements, distribution options; trends in the use of the product targeted for export i.e. is their growth in consumption and the like. The thrust is always to identify markets with lesser hassles.

Other details or factors you will seek to know here are market size, trade regulations, import statistics, trade barriers, payment dynamics, political climate, internal competition, economic state, geographic details, and language, amongst others.

Where To Get Information

Here I will list for you credible and useful sources of information when conducting your export market research.

ZimTrade Trade Information Centre

This is essentially accessible from the ZimTrade website. You can also find market surveys for several African countries on this website. There are also several publications on the site e.g. journals, magazines, handbooks, and the like.

Trade Map

This is an online portal for international trade statistics, accessible here.

EU Help Desk

Yet another online portal where you can get details on how products should be to enter the EU market, how much it costs, how much is saved if the product/country benefits from a preferential arrangement, and how to prove the origin of products to benefit from this preferential tariff.

Standards Map

This is a platform where you can get comprehensive information on sustainability standards.

Market Access Map

Here you can get to find out market access conditions or information to better inform your decisions.

Centre For The Promotion Of Imports From Developing Countries (CBI)

This portal assists exporters from developing countries to get a presence in EU markets.

Market News Service

This is a platform where you can find detailed price information and market intelligence on the following selected products: cut flowers and ornamental plants, medical plants and extracts, spices, tropical or off-season fruits and vegetables, fruit juices, pharmaceutical starting materials, essential oils and oleoresins, organic products, precious and semi-precious stones.

Other Sources

You can also explore a wide variety of other sources such as Zimbabwean embassies abroad, foreign embassies in Zimbabwe, business membership organizations (e.g. ZNCC and CZI), commercial banks, ZimSTAT, shipping and freight companies, and ZIMRA. Other sources you can use are the following websites:

International Trade Centre (click here)

SADC (click here)

COMESA (click here)

FAO (click here)

United Nations (click here)

World Bank (click here)

Global Edge (click here)

World Economic Forum (click here)

World Customs Organization (click here)

You can visit the ZimTrade website for more details or you can email info@zimtrade.co.zw. When you are done compiling all your information you will need to structure it as a report. Your report can comprise the following sections: title, executive summary, table of contents, introduction, findings, conclusions, recommendations, and appendices. That wraps up how you can carry out export market research for your Zimbabwean products.