Monday 10 December 2018

Research hub can empower ambitious export firms

SME Advice

Companies which are serious about exporting, growing and future-proofing their business should put continuous research at the heart of their strategy.
Companies which are serious about exporting, growing and future-proofing their business should put continuous research at the heart of their strategy.

Conor Fahy

The saying that 'knowledge is power' is certainly true of successful exporting.

Companies must understand their customers' requirements, cultural considerations, market trends and what competitors in the market are doing, in order to succeed. Insights gained from high-quality market research are essential for good business decisions for companies with the ambition to grow, export and, indeed, survive.

While successful products and services are built on sound market research, a continual process of keeping up-to-date with business intelligence is required, which can be time-consuming and costly.

That is one reason Enterprise Ireland's market research centre is such a valuable resource. It is the largest repository of business intelligence in Ireland and contains thousands of world-class market research insights, available to companies we support. The service is also available across our regional office network.

Reports include company, sector, market and country information, which help businesses to explore opportunities and compete in international markets. We use databases from blue-chip information providers such as Gartner, Frost & Sullivan, Mintel and others, which provide authoritative, verified information that is independent and reliable.

Some of these reports cost tens of thousands of euro individually, so the value of accessing the service is immense. Startup companies are particularly extensive users of our market research; we provide them with specialist information that they would otherwise be unable to afford to access.

The market research centre is staffed by eight information specialists who help clients locate the most appropriate sources of knowledge for their requirements. Specialists can track down very specific market intelligence that is not available through simple internet research. The centre can also facilitate access to industry analysts who provide bespoke briefings that deep-dive into subject areas.

The opportunity to enter new export markets is one every ambitious Irish company must consider. While the UK and European markets remain vitally important for exporters, increasingly diversification into more distant markets is a strategic option. Critical to all such business decisions is access to authoritative market research.

A recent example of how the centre helps companies to explore opportunities in overseas markets is Naas-based Irish Dog Foods. In the past two years, the company has targeted Portugal, Germany, Korea and Spain, availing of the centre to develop a picture of each country.

Information specialists helped the company gain valuable insights by providing answers to questions, such as the percentage of dog-owning households in the market and the volume of consumption of dog food.

EI's research hub offers access to extensive predictive research on future trends, which is invaluable for companies interested in innovation. Knowledge of what might impact a market next provides an opportunity to develop new products or solutions. There are huge opportunities arising from disruptive technologies, such as driver-less cars, but also risks to companies which are not looking ahead.

The UK vote to leave the EU raises important issues concerning Ireland's trading relationship with Britain. The research centre provides information to impacted companies, especially those with high exposure, helping them to consolidate or grow their business in the UK and consider options for diversification, particularly to the eurozone.

Companies which are serious about exporting, growing and future-proofing their business should put continuous research at the heart of their strategy. If your company is considering breaking into new markets, struggling with Brexit or dealing with thorny strategic issues, the research centre's extensive resources and expertise should be your first port of call.

  • Conor Fahy manages Enterprise Ireland's market research centre, sales and marketing unit and high-growth markets

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