International market research begins at home

The amount of data obtainable through the internal information system will depend on the level of international involvement of the company. For the large global or multinational company, resources and exposure to the international marketplace will be greater.

Carlsberg, for example, has a substantial, computer-based, international marketing information system at its headquarters in Copenhagen. This provides managers with up-to-the-minute marketing information on activity world-wide. It also means that these companies should be in a stronger position to carry out research using internal data sources._

For the small company or the company with little or no overseas' exposure, things can be far more difficult. The traditional sources of internal data will not contain the same amount or quality of information about overseas' markets and in some cases there will be no information at all. This can be an extremely daunting prospect for budding international researchers.

Research, however, does not happen in a vacuum and in many businesses the move towards international activity will be signposted as part of the strategic plan. The information needed to support this decision should be gathered in a systematic fashion and be available to the researcher.

For those companies that are looking to develop an existing international presence, the types of data outlined in Chapter 3 should exist.

The major difference is that in international research the importance of market intelligence cannot be overstated. In the home market the manager has the substantial advantage of familiarity with the market and its environment. Day-to-day business experience will to some extent familiarize him or her with the issues being researched. When researching overseas' markets, this input is not available and it becomes necessary to seek out what might seem even the most commonplace information about a market. The use of contacts in the trade, and the other methods of drawing on market intelligence and secondary information sources, are therefore important in informing overall research planning and essential in the first exploratory phase of any project.

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