Skip to content

MindShare: Find the Right Export Markets in Three Comprehensive Steps

By LeeAnne Haworth, Senior International Trade Specialist, U.S. Commercial Service

TEQ Magazine MindshareCompanies that have a product or service that has been successful in the U.S. market are generally well-positioned to explore international market opportunities.

However, many companies find it daunting to start the market research process to identify the right target markets. International market research assesses the demand for your product/service in a given country as well as factors related to a prospective market destination. 

Approaching international markets in a proactive, strategic manner by starting with thorough market research will help you find the right targets for your product/service, mitigate risk and maximize your company’s efforts and results. This article condenses the market research process into three comprehensive steps.

Start with Your Company’s Data

Your market research strategy can start with primary research. Interviewing contacts within your industry’s value chain can provide information about industry trends and the competitive landscape. Reviewing where your international inquiries originate, and your website analytics can be indicators of market potential. Looking at the top three countries from which your site attracts visitors that are searching for your company’s products or keywords can indicate international buyer interest.

Evaluate Country-Specific Market Data

In a world of uncertainty, look for markets that demonstrate political stability, economic growth and predictable business environments. These characteristics can be assessed by looking at factors such as GDP growth, ease of doing business factors, reliable intellectual property systems and the existence of free trade agreements with the United States. An analysis of country-market data would also include a review of social, cultural and demographic factors.

Analyze Product-Specific Market Data

An analysis of product-specific market data will help ensure the prospective market is compatible with your business model. Product-specific market research would include trade data analysis to quantify the market opportunity in terms of market size, the potential for market growth and foreign competition in the market for your product. Other product-specific criteria would include regulatory requirements and import regulations related to your solution. Additionally, this research would evaluate the industry-specific drivers of demand, customer needs and available distribution networks. 

The goal of market research is to learn about: 

The market trends and outlook for your industry in that country. 

The largest markets and/or fastest-growing markets for your product. 

The competitive landscape for your industry/product in that country, and potentially in the region. 

The costs associated with getting your product from your facility to customers in another country.  

Any required product changes to comply with the destination country’s regulations and standards. 

Identifying three to five potential markets is a good start for small companies. Some companies find it helpful to group potential markets by largest markets, fastest growing markets or smaller markets with high growth. Others find it can be more cost-effective to focus on geographic regions rather than markets scattered around the globe. 

The U.S. Commercial Service offers a wealth of market research on its website at These resources include Country Commercial Guides, Industry Specific resource guides and access to a variety of trade statistics. Furthermore, our local International Trade Specialists can help you walk through the many resources available to you. Contact the International Trade Specialists in the Pittsburgh office of the U.S. Commercial Service to help you find your next export market! 

LeeAnne Haworth can be reached at or (412) 644-2816.