6 steps to identify business partners and export opportunities in the European market
You have decided to expand your business and explore the European market. But how do you identify the right market with the most opportunities for your product? This may seem a tough task, but solid research helps you to gradually get a clear picture of the export opportunities. In 6 steps, we show you how to build a sound foundation for your business strategy.
1. Identify the most promising markets
The first step is to identify countries with a high growth potential for your business. You should take a broad research approach to see where opportunities lie. Trade statistics will help you gain insight into worldwide demand.
- What are the leading importing countries?
- What are the fastest-growing markets?
- In what markets are my competitors active which are not on my radar yet (uncharted markets)?
PRO TIP: Sound analysis is the starting point to find the best export markets. Use ITC’s Trade Map to gain insight in worldwide demand.
2. What trends offer opportunities?
Once you have prioritized your export markets, you can zoom in on the relevant market trends and developments. This not only allows you to identify specific market opportunities, but also to embrace new trends and adapt your products and value chain accordingly.
There’s a great number of free online sector-specific databases, portals, and market reports available that can provide you with the latest market trends, segments and distribution channels in a specific market. Make a list of relevant sources for your business so you can
PRO TIP: the website of Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries offers lots of trend related information on various sectors and product groups.
3. Which legal market access requirements to comply with?
When exporting, always be sure to comply with foreign requirements. Some countries are harder to access because they have stricter requirements, while others have more favourable conditions. You should explore and prioritize the market requirements for your sector and product through reliable online sources.
PRO TIP: the website of Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries offers lots of information on market requirements for various sectors and product groups.
4. Identifying voluntary and sustainability standards
In addition to the legal requirements, international buyers often have supplementary requirements like social, environmental, and quality standards. Which ones are in demand and/or upcoming in your target markets? Familiarize yourself with voluntary standards and certification schemes relevant to your business.
PRO TIP: Don’t know where to start your research on standards? Check out ITC’s Standards map for information on sector-related standards.
5. Finding buyers in the EU
You know all the ins and outs of your priority markets? Perfect! Then you are ready to search for the right business partner. Don’t randomly select international buyers. Instead, you should be sure to always organize plans and execute them, so define a profile of your ideal business partner first. Your goal is to create a sustainable match. Make sure to:
- Create a long list of potential buyers by making use of databases, portals, and trade fair directories
- Create a shortlist out of your long list. Which buyers match perfectly with your profile?
- Connect to procurement managers by using LinkedIn
- Prepare a commercial pitch to connect to potential buyers
PRO TIP: For more information on finding buyers, read our blog ‘Matchmaking: 5 steps to find the right business match’.
6. Compare trade fairs and identify prices
An ideal place to meet new buyers is to participate in trade fairs. But how do you choose which ones to attend? When searching and comparing trade fairs, take into consideration the following:
- Is the fair relevant for my sector and products?
- Is it an established trade fair?
- Do you have accurate information on the number of visitors and exhibitors?
- Will your potential buyers be present at the fair?
- Are your competitors participating in the fair?
PRO TIP Were you able to answer all these questions with, yes? Go ahead and put the trade fair on your list. Do you need help preparing? Read our blog on ‘Successful trade fair participation’ for a head start.
In the end, it all comes down to having a proper research strategy and plan in place. Defining clear research questions and objectives, along with the appropriate research methodology, will guide you through the process and help you to successfully expand your business internationally.
Following the above steps, you will have made a good export plan. All that’s left is to execute it! Learn more about how to do this through our course web-based market research to identify export opportunities on our Globally Cool Academy.
Develop your knowledge and skills!
Learn how to use online tools to your advantage with the Globally Cool Academy. The course 'Web-based market research to identify export opportunities' is a hands-on programme in which you will learn how to assess competitor activity and market access requirements in the European market.