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When you explore and chart out the export market, you should always acquire knowledge about the competitive situation in the new market, the level of quality, the regulatory framework, and the culture.
If you have a competitive advantage in Sweden, you may want to search for markets where you can maintain the same advantages, to the extent feasible. For example, the situation may be that you can maintain low prices, or if your product has a unique characteristic or feature, making it stand out or even be all alone within the market.
One first step could be to find out to what extent Sweden already trades with the country. Look at short-term trends and long-term trends: just what are the changes due to? You can also look at different types of population statistics in order to obtain a general overview of potential customers and their purchasing patterns.
On this page you can find information about:
Sources of information for market research
Access to markets
EU Market Access Database (MADB)
Market terms and conditions
Analysis of the market
The potential the market has to offer
Customer analysis and pricing strategy
Understanding distinctive cultural features
Sustainable entrepreneurship – guides and tools
Videos – Which country should I start exporting to?
In our interactive map, you will find contact information and URLs for various parties who may be of assistance in your efforts to obtain information about various markets.
Import restrictions, quotas, customs duties, documentation requirements, etc., can make it more difficult to enter the export market. However if there is a free trade agreement between the country in question and the EU, this can make it easier for you to sell your goods and services.
There are also other things that can affect your possibilities to enter an export market. Some examples include local content requirements (LCR, meaning that you are required to use input materials sourced from domestic manufacturers), intellectual property measures, discriminatory public procurement, currency regulations, technical regulations, standards, and procedures for assessing whether your product or service complies with applicable technical regulations or standards.
Technical regulations relating to requirements concerning product characteristics and manufacturing methods may exist. This may include requirements for the following:
- level of quality
- testing and testing methods
- packaging, marking and the label.
For services, there may also be requirements concerning the nature of the service and how it is to be performed, or that the individual who is to perform it must have a certain level of expertise.
The EU Market Access Database contains information about customs duties, documentation requirements and other trade barriers for different countries.
To search for customs duties, documentation requirements, etc., you must use the correct product code for your product. To assist you in this, the Market Access Database is available, or The Customs Tariff if you prefer product descriptions in Swedish.
Things to keep in mind!
The sales of your goods and services in your chosen export market can also be hindered by other companies’ intellectual property rights, such as patents, trademarks, designs and copyright.
You can expect the export market to impose many different requirements on your product. You need to thoroughly investigate what rules, requirements and permits/authorisations, and anything else, may affect the marketing and sales of your goods and services.
These may include requirements concerning customer support, warranties provided to consumers or other consumer protection, product liability and other mandatory rules that could have major consequences for you if something goes wrong.
Competition rules may limit the ability to enter into distribution agreements, and it may affect pricing and other business conditions. There may also be tax rules that are specifically applicable to your goods and services.
And you should not forget to find out how the bureaucracy works in the country. In certain countries, you may find that it is easier to make use of a local adviser in contacts with public authorities or other parties.
Keep in mind that it is always easier to expand a niche than to scale down. Therefore, it may be wise to start with a small geographic area, or with only one segment or one sector in the market.
Make an attempt to estimate the potential market for your product or service, and how much market share you think you can attain.
If in your assessment, you think that you can attain a sufficiently large market share so as to make your investment profitable, you should find out if the market for your product is mature, growing or decreasing.
You should find out which similar products are available and who supplies them. Is it a local or an international company? Whom are they selling to? What do they do in order to be successful?
How will you distinguish yourself from your competitors? One way to find out, is to identify your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses and then formulate your responses.
You should also investigate the intellectual property rights held by the competition, and compare it with your own. Will you be in an advantageous situation, or will you be disadvantaged in your efforts to compete?
In order to be able to sell your product in an effective manner, you will need to be able to explain why a potential customer should buy from you and to show what distinguishes you from your competitors.
Your product must fulfil the customer’s needs, otherwise it is unlikely that your venture will be profitable.
The customer must also be ready and willing to pay your price. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have established the price for your products at correct levels.
For example, you can get price indications at trade fairs and events, from competitors, and from members of trade organisations. You can also contact potential customers and discuss with them.
Does your price provide coverage of costs and leave a profit? You must take additional costs into account, such as:
- shipping costs and insurance
- the profit margin (or remuneration) of the distributor
- customs duties and related fees
- administrative fees
- protection of intellectual property rights
- translation costs
- compliance with regulations and rules.
You should also identify price risks such as restrictive trade rules, dumping, currency risks, administrative charges and responses from the competition.
Even if you read everything you can about the new market, it will still be difficult to really understand the market and its business environment. Therefore it may be useful to hire someone, or otherwise obtain the assistance of someone from the relevant country, who understands its customers, buying patterns and decision-making processes.
It often occurs that what works in the home market simply does not work in another market. In such case, you will need to make changes in your product in order that it becomes culturally acceptable.
You may need to make superficial changes, such as a branding change (colours, logo, imagery), marketing, packaging, layout of ingredients list, etc.
Or you may also need to change the product itself, for instance if you want to sell your food product in a market where your customers want other tastes.
Be prepared to change your product or service to avoid controversy or rejection, even if it seems trivial to you. Be flexible.
Sustainable entrepreneurship can be an advantage when trading with other countries. Here are some tools that may be of assistance to you in getting started with your sustainability work.
For those who are small business owners and want to work sustainably, you will find a simple method at CSRtips.se.
The Sustainability Guide provides support for designers, and those providing assignments, in the innovation and change work needed to develop messages, products, processes, systems, or environments that meet the demands of the future.
The CSR Compass
The CSR Compass has a free online tool (www.csrcompass.com/tools) that provides assistance to businesses to get started with the work relating to social responsibility in the supply chain in production, trade and service.
Learn more about sustainable entrepreneurship – guides and tools
Video – Which country should I start exporting to? (Part 1)
What is important to consider when exporting to other countries? Helene Rönnholm from Business Sweden addresses the most important questions and issues, including the importance of the business culture for good joint collaboration.
Video – Which country should I start exporting to? (Part 2)
Helene Rönnholm from Business Sweden addresses the most important questions and issues concerning exports to other countries and provides advice about what Business Sweden can provide assistance with.
Responsible: Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth