Bryant Christie Inc. has helped agricultural businesses and industry organizations successfully enter new markets around the world for over 30 years. Drawing from this reservoir of experience, we've curated a suite of market development best practices and tips to help you trailblaze a new path for your organization or business.
Conduct Comprehensive Market Research
It’s critical to do your homework on a potential new market through careful market research. This includes exploring the needs and preferences of potential consumers, identifying who your competitors are, and developing a firm understanding of the market’s unique regulatory environment. This will be helpful for you to identify both opportunities and barriers, thus allowing you to devise effective market strategies. For example, through your research you may realize that there are inadequate storage and distribution facilities at the main port of entry, or that sustainable packaging is a stronger purchasing factor for local consumers than expected.
Depending on your budget, there are a number of strategies for how to conduct this research. One of our top recommendations is to take advantage of government assistance. Consider reaching out to the State Department of Agriculture or Department of Commerce and exploring what programs or educational resources they have available for businesses looking to expand into their state. If you are looking internationally, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is also a fantastic resource. There are nearly 100 offices covering approximately 180 countries around the world, staffed by foreign service officers and locally hired agricultural experts. These offices are tasked with regularly providing up-to-date market intelligence GAIN reports.
Here at BCI, we specialize in providing high-quality research, data and analysis, including tailor-made Data Dashboards and weekly intelligence Monitors. This is especially helpful to save time tracking an endless amount of new and changing food regulations. You can also reach out to a local market research firm that has expertise in gathering data and understanding the nuances of local consumers. Depending on your needs, conducting a survey or a focus group discussion could yield some valuable insights.
Prioritize Product Localization and Marketing
Many companies mistakenly believe that they can simply replicate their strategy and introduce their product into a new market without any changes. Sometimes that works, but this is a rather risky approach. It is worth the extra effort to ensure that the packaging and marketing of your product aligns with local regulations, cultural norms, and translates effectively. For example, McDonalds successfully modified its menu in India to accommodate cultural and dietary preferences. They introduced vegetarian options, such as the McAloo Tikki burger, to cater to the large vegetarian population. Additionally, they refrained from serving beef or pork to respect local cultural sensitivities.
Understanding these cultural nuances is key to ensuring your product connects positively with consumers and has a better chance for success in a new market. Even what might be considered a small change matters, such as customizing information into the locally preferred format. An example of this is providing product storage guidance in Celsius rather than Fahrenheit. Customers appreciate the extra effort to make a product easier to access and understand.
Visit and Forge Local Partnerships
Over the years, we’ve found that clients who invest in market visits and prioritize cultivating local relationships often achieve greater and more sustained success. Beyond engaging with government offices, we recommend also connecting with local trade associations, industry groups and chambers of commerce. If you can attend an event run by these groups, it can be a great way to introduce yourself to reputable businesses in the area, gain insight into real-time market dynamics, and start learning more about the local business customs and etiquette.
Another effective way to develop partnerships and conduct market research is participating in a trade show or exhibition, preferably those held within or attended by key stakeholders from the desired target market. This allows you to have direct interactions with potential consumers, distributors, and yes even your competitors. If time and budget allow, consider also staying a couple days before or after a trade show to conduct some retail or wholesale market visits. We recommend taking pictures to document what similar products are currently in demand and at what price.
Organizing these visits can be logistically difficult, so it’s worth exploring if any local, state or federal agencies are organizing a trade mission to the market you are interested in. For example, the USDA organizes numerous trade missions each year, and handles organizing business-to-business meetings and covering most on-ground expenses.
Collaborate with Trusted Partners
You have a lot to consider when exploring a new market, and leaning on the support and guidance of market development experts can make the journey a whole lot smoother. It can be invaluable to hire an in-market representation firm who can serve as your boots on the ground, keeping in regular contact with key partners and providing immediate and local expertise when needed. This is often a more cost-effective approach, rather than setting up a full-fledged office. We also recommend engaging with your commodity board that likely receives FAS trade program funds to develop export markets generically. You may be able to collaborate with them on shared markets of interest and mutually beneficial activities.
Finally, if you are looking for a partner who can help you ideate, develop, and execute a market development strategy, BCI is ready to assist. Our team of experts can work with you to develop customized market research, secure federal and state government grants, identify and manage in-market agencies, organize and represent your business at key trade shows, and much more. Contact us to learn how we can help your organization expand into new markets.
You have a lot to consider when exploring a new market, and leaning on the support and guidance of market development experts can make the journey a whole lot smoother.