Market research as the basis
Marketing research helps you identify your potential customers, where they are located, and your competitors. Get started with our information on market research.
In your market research, list your reasons for exporting. For example: you want to expand your customer base. Or: there are too many competitors on the Dutch market. Also think about your unique selling points: if you want to export bags to Spain, they must be cheaper and/or of better quality than the ones already available, to stand out.
How do opportunities arise?
There are several ways in which opportunities abroad present themselves. Trade agreements, the lifting of trade barriers, and lowering of import duties can create trade opportunities abroad. Changes in product legislation can also simplify doing business. The changing climate also creates new business opportunities: think of floods, causing a need for dykes, or extreme drought causing a need for irrigation systems. In short, be ready to respond to developments and changes abroad.
Select favourable markets for your product
No doubt you have certain ideas about the countries you want to trade with: should they be near the Netherlands, or does it not it matter? The world is a large place and there may be many potential markets for your product in different countries. There are many considerations, and only you know which ones are important for you. The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK) has developed the KVK Export New Markets tool, that allows you to set the criteria and their weight, to determine which countries could be of most interest to you.
To stay on top of things, list criteria to select the most favourable foreign markets. You can compare (in Dutch) the macro-economic situation in several countries by checking the Netherlands Enterprise Agency Landeninformatie (in Dutch only). Check out the current situation as well as expected developments. Try to find branch and sector information (in Dutch), for instance from local branch organisations; they often publish market and branch reports or trade magazines. If your focus is on the European market, you will do well to read the market reports published by the CBI (Center for the Promotion of Import from developing countries). The CBI informs businesses in developing countries about opportunities for products on the European market, but the reports also offer relevant information for companies in the Netherlands that want to export to other European countries. Also, be aware of cultural differences in trading and product experience. The EU Access2Markets database provides information on local customs and traditions.
If you need an expert opinion, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) can provide you with personalised advice. Get in touch with their International enterprise team.
Research your chosen country
Once you have chosen a country, get to know who your competitors are, and how they market their product. Get in touch with local buyers. Visit a trade show in the country you have chosen to export to, that way you will encounter useful business contacts. Find out if it is possible to sell your product for a reasonable price. Take into account import duties, transport costs and company management costs. Your costs will differ per country, and per product.
Corporate social responsibility and export
Corporate social responsibility (maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen in Dutch, or MVO) means that companies take responsibility for the impact they have on societal issues like air pollution, climate change, terms of employment, and ageing population. When you do business with a foreign country, you may run a risk of getting involved with irresponsible practices such as child labour or corruption. The CSR Risk Check helps you to identify the risks you incur in the country of your choice, and what you can do to limit these risks. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency offers more information on CSR and international trade.