Export market research

Last updated: 5 October 2017

Visiting your export markets

Visiting the countries you'd like to export to can be helpful, but it can also be expensive. You may want to focus on one market to begin with.

Visiting your markets allows you to gather information first-hand by meeting:

  • potential customers
  • buyers
  • distributors
  • peers
  • agents

You can find out what they think about your products or services.

One way to help with your export research is by going to trade fairs and taking part in organised trade missions. Scottish businesses can apply for support towards the costs of attending and exhibiting at certain trade fairs and participating in missions. To find out more about getting funding contact:

Trade fairs

Trade fairs – also known as 'expos' – are large events where companies gather to demonstrate their products or services to customers and competitors, as well as meet and network. It's a good way to raise your company profile even if you don't exhibit.

Trade fairs can help you:

  • assess your market
  • build networks
  • find new customers
  • see first-hand the way people do business in those countries
  • test the market – as you'll get instant feedback

Trade fairs can be expensive to attend even if you're not exhibiting, and the time away from your day-to-day business needs to be worthwhile.

Check if the event is in the right market sector and attracts the right customer base.

Also find out if the biggest competitors in your market are going to be there. Decide if it's worth your while to spend time and money at a show where you may not make in-roads, because the big players are crowding the market.

Many companies who already have customers, agents or distributors in an international market share an exhibition stand with their customer or business partner. This is cost-effective and can be a good way of introducing new products.

Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise run 'bootcamp' events to help you prepare before you attend a trade fair.

You can apply for help with funding through the UKTI's Trade Show access programme.

Trade missions

A trade mission (also known as a market visit) is a trip to a country organised by trade bodies, government bodies and commercial companies to encourage business links between countries.

Missions can be a cost-effective way of exploring new export markets and are useful for more complex international markets.

Trade missions are usually organised through in-country experts with lots of local knowledge. They can include:

  • support and guidance on what you need to do to successfully launch your products into the market
  • practical advice on doing business in the market, such as selling and negotiating with buyers, contractual arrangements and getting paid
  • introductions to potential customers
  • introductions to potential business partners
  • introductions to senior government officials
  • insights into the country's business culture and business etiquette from these experts

Find out more about attending trade missions from Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Get funding for trade fairs and missions

Going abroad for research and trade missions can be expensive. Scottish businesses can apply for funding to help with the costs, either to exhibit or just to visit.

If you're new to exporting you can get help with attending trade fairs and trade missions through Scottish Enterprise's trade missions funding.

For other support to visit overseas markets, find out about the Scottish Enterprise Market Visits Programme.

Export market research
Visiting your export markets