Asha Tackles Market Information Needs
Adu, Export Sales Manager from JKM AfricanTechnologies, arrived at Asha’s office to request help with market intelligence. As a start, Asha took some standard information sheets from her folder. She had updated these for a recent trade mission. First, there was a sheet of country facts, which included a country profile and social and economic indicators. The second sheet provided general tariff information, customs procedures and an outline of requirements relating to standards and certification.
Adu could do much of the more detailed research himself if he was pointed in the right direction. So, Asha mentioned the various government sites that Adu could access free of charge. She also mentioned sites of international organizations such as the International Trade Centre, various commercial publishers of trade directories and other non-conventional sources of intelligence. Asha had been surprised at how much information was available. Banks and trade fair organizers were other useful sources.
Asha also offered her own relevant first impressions. She recalled that another African company had recently announced its entry in the market with similar products, so she felt that there was potential for Adu’s company. She suggested that Adu visit the local chamber of commerce, as well as the sector association covering the technology offered by Adu’s company.
Market intelligence is vital for exporters. Exporters value the local knowledge and insight that trade representatives provide.
Observe trends in their market and identify commercial opportunities.
Produce market overviews, sector analyses and information sheets with local resources.
Refer enquiries on creditworthiness to a specialized agency.
Advise on local ways of doing business.
Advise exporters to stay away from bribery and corruption.
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Checklist: Structuring a Market Report
Overview of main opportunities for exporters.
Introduction with the country’s geography (size, major cities), brief history, business culture, list of public holidays, population and ethnic makeup, government, GDP and per capita income.
Trade statistics and trends at high level, including total figures for imports and exports, as well as major categories; how the country is positioned internationally, for example 15th largest importer.
Trade between the home and host countries, including top exports and imports most significant home country companies participating in trade, issues in trade relations.
Main inward and outward investors between the two countries.
Major development or infrastructure projects.
Macro trends of significance to the home country.
A sector-specific report prepared ahead of a trade mission or a trade fair, such as oil and gas, mining, food and drink, might aim to supplement the high-level report described above.
Checklist: Structuring a sector study
Executive summary of market potential for home country exporters.
Basic statistics on production, consumption and growth.
Trends in consumption and local tastes, including commercial intelligence that might change trends.
Composition of the industry, such as amount of production generated by largest company.
What competitors in the market are doing.
Introduction and brief background on the industry.
Breakdowns by subsector.
Import and export statistics and trends.
The regulatory environment, including laws, labelling requirements and tariffs.
Logistics, including examples such as shipping issues.
Distribution networks, including information on importers, wholesalers and retailers.
Promotion and publicity.
Suggested reference material, with links to websites.
Checklist: Offering time-saving information
Trade office and Embassy/High Commission address, contact names and numbers, e-mail address and hours of operation, plus emergency contact number.
Major government departments, with addresses and contact details.
Major trade fairs and exhibitions, dates and contact details for organizers.
Forthcoming visits and events, such as government ministers and trade missions.
Five to 10 reputable lawyers, with contact details.
Five to 10 accounting companies, with contact details.
Three to five public relations firms.
Five competent marketing consultants.
Five interpreters and/or translators and their contact details.
Useful websites with a brief description.
World Bank listing of local business regulations.
Sources of tariffs and customs information.
Standards and certification.
Serviced office premises where visitors can access office and communications facilities.
A template for an import agency agreement.
Names of key journalists who write about trade matters.
Five to 10 reputable hotels, with contact details and special rates negotiated for clients.
Information on local transport – car rental companies, taxis, buses and trains.
Doctors, dentists, hospitals and pharmacies.
Public holidays, major events and festivals.