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Last updated: 5 October 2017

Research briefs

Market research can take too much time if you don't set clear objectives.

Whether you're doing your own research or commissioning research, write a research brief to keep you focused.

This will ensure you gather enough information to have an evidence base, which you can use to make decisions about where you focus your trade visits and conduct primary research.

How to write a market research brief

Keep your research brief clear and focused with strong objectives, and don't try to cover too much. Use information you know about the market already so you don't spend unnecessary time and money.

If you're commissioning research, you'll need to give a high level overview about your company. Try to include:

  • what you do, who you sell to and why your product is unique, or where you fit into your industry sector
  • your company's aims and objectives
  • how long you've been in business and the number of employees (if it's a family business, you may want to mention this too)
  • where you started and any big changes your business has experienced

What your research brief should include

In order to be clear about your objectives, write an 'outcome statement'.

Your outcome statement should include:

  • where the fastest growing or largest potential markets for your goods or services are
  • which market you should focus on (start with one and have a longer term plan for future markets)
  • what contacts you have in that country (or do you need to build them?)
  • why that would be the best market to sell your product or service
  • which part of that market your company will appeal to
  • which of your products you should sell to that market (don't try to sell everything, choose the most appropriate products first)
  • what the demand for the product is and why that potential demand isn't being met
  • if you need to adapt your product or service to fill a niche
  • who your potential customers are
  • who your competitors are
  • what your competitors are doing/not doing
  • how easy the market is to access (think about proximity, cost of entry, competition, language, regulations and duty rates)
  • what the currency rates are like (does the currency fluctuate or stay relatively steady?)
  • what the best[distribution method] for your product/market is
  • if there's potential to grow

Where to find information

When researching, be sure that you're accessing the most up-to-date publications and data.

Look for:

You can also get help with country-specific research from the Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

Scottish Enterprise offers overseas market support, with market analysis for your company and in-market support.

Visit Highlands and Islands Enterprise for overseas market support if your business is based in that region.

It can be difficult to find enough information for some developing countries, so you may need to rely more heavily on contacts you make in that country, when you reach the primary research stage.

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Research briefs