British Exporters: be bold and explore the more unusual export markets

The latest economic research highlights untapped markets that UK businesses should exploit, according to economists at RBS who conducted the study investigating nearly 50 countries as potential markets for UK exporters. Export constitutes almost a third of the UK economy, but most companies that do trade overseas still focus on “traditional” markets in Europe and America.

In its research, RBS rated each market by a combination of criteria, including size, growth, and compatibility of its import needs with the products that are produced and exported in the UK. Those countries assessed as part of the study made up less than 25% of all UK goods exported in 2012. The research identifies export opportunities that British businesses are not taking full advantage of. With growth in the US and Europe slowing or even at a standstill, it makes sense to diversify into other markets where competitors might not yet be active.

“Our research highlights a set of markets which may not be traditional export destinations, but could prove to be very attractive for UK businesses. China, Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and Taiwan are all up there, offering genuine scale and attractive markets for British exporters, with Mexico, Brazil and Taiwan standing out as missed opportunities for UK plc.”said RBS Senior Economist David Fenton.

A good way to test new markets is to localise and optimise your website content to attract enquiries from foreign customers, which can be done with a relatively small initial outlay and minimal risk. After a few months you can look at the number of website visits and enquiries you’ve had from each target market and decide whether to make further investment in countries where your product or service has proven to be most popular. Alternatively, if there has been limited interest, you don’t have to pursue the venture any further. This type of market research and testing is invaluable and can save you a fortune in the long run.

Take heed of this cautionary tale: a company that manufactured a bake-at-home product chose to launch in Japan. After several months and not a single sale, they realised the reason: it is extremely uncommon for people to have an oven at home in Japan, as traditionally they cook in a wok! Don’t let the potential pitfalls put you off targeting export markets further afield, however; with the right advice and support your international expansion will be a success, and take your business growth to the next level. Read more about website localisation, or contact us for more details.