Is the world ready for your product?

By Nicole d'Entremont

You have a product that is selling well in Canada and you’re thinking about next steps. The obvious choice? Exporting. Makes sense, but you need to know if there’s a market for your product outside of Canada. You may be ready to take on the world, but is the world ready for you? Here’s how to find out:

Start small: The best way to go global is to stay focused. While your website allows you to throw your doors open to the world, your exporting efforts should begin on a smaller scale. Experts recommend that you focus your energy on no more than one or two countries at a time. This approach makes your venture easier to manage and ensures your strategy is customized to fit your chosen market(s), giving you a greater chance of success.

Examine potential markets: Before you narrow down a list of countries, examine your options. Collect information and statistics related to your sector’s product exports to other countries. Next, identify five to ten large and fast-growing markets. Look at their performance over the past three to five years. Has market growth been consistent year-to-year? Consider smaller emerging markets where there are fewer competitors and your chances of gaining a foothold are strong.

Assess the markets: Now that you’ve done your initial research, target the most promising markets for further analysis. Examine trends that could influence demand for your product. Take a look at the overall consumption of products like yours, and figure out how much is imported. Now identify some of the specific factors that might affect your approach in the market, including distribution channels, cultural differences and business practices. Look into trade barriers and Canadian restrictions, such as export controls. On the plus side, there may be Canadian or foreign government incentives to support your venture.

Make a decision: It’s time to ask some serious questions as you shorten your list to the top one or two markets:
- How big is the market and what is the local spending power?
- Who are your potential customers and what do they want?
- Is the competition well-established?
- What product adjustments are required to meet the needs and priorities of local consumers? How much will it cost?
In other words, look at your markets critically to determine your opportunity for success. Analysing the information you’ve gathered will help you choose your target market(s), and will guide the development of your export plan and marketing strategy.
Start networking: Create a list of vendors, suppliers and potential customers in your chosen market(s). Local on-the-ground contacts are crucial. Connect with the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service ( to establish contacts, network and obtain market-specific advice. Keep a detailed contact list and manage it well. Remember that every single person on that list can give you access to networks of people who may want or need your product.

The success of your export venture depends on you. By choosing your market(s) wisely and considering local likes and needs in your marketing and product development efforts, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a global entrepreneur.

Article by Nicole d'Entremont, small business owner. More information is available at or by calling 1-888-576-4444 (TTY 1-800-457-8466).

By Adam

October 07, 2011