For exporters entering new markets such as China, Indonesia, Korea and Japan it is a whole new ball game. Supermarkets are different, department stores unique and ecommerce unfamiliar.
If you have been successful in finding your first customers willing to stock your products in Asia, you will have access to very limited market data – probably periodic sales data (if you’re lucky) and sales forecasts (if you’re really lucky).
How do you build your branding and marketing strategy for China and your other export markets without information on how the public is responding to your products? Guesswork is a good way to waste money.
There is plenty that you can do from the comfort of your office in Sydney or San Francisco through social media or with assistance from your stockists, but there is even more you can do with boots on the ground.
Customer research can go a long way to helping to put together a consumer profile. Physical surveys still have enormous value to gain insights into purchasing decisions and brand perceptions. It’s even better if you can use your research activities to increase your customer marketing database. One of the two-birds-one-stone approaches is to induce your customers to fill in a survey which includes a mixture of personal (demographic) information and product sentiments. In this way you can link responses to consumer groups.
Social media can also create a connection for you with your customers’ opinions. WeChat, Line and Facebook all have their own capabilities to engage with your customers and ask for product feedback.
Even with these remote methodologies, there is still no substitute for physical research. In person surveys and focus groups can give you much more detailed analysis on products and marketing material being presented to your new markets’ customers. With this in depth research you will have the information you need to make informed decisions and reduce wasted marketing efforts.