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Where is the biggest export market?

biggest export market

For every business that wants to start export or to increase their export sales, the first question they ask is “where is the biggest export market?”.

Most of the business owners, export managers and export consultants will start with market size investigation like the population, the GDP, the consumption power and other economic data. In the digital world, it is never so easy to get all these data and put them to a beautiful chart on PowerPoint. However, the data only may not give you the correct answer and the PowerPoint will not add your export power.

While the export market data will tell you China, USA and other big economies are your best export markets, my export experience proved this is not the case. Let’s see two case studies here.

1: Can they afford my products?

When I joined a leading Japanese baby goods manufacturer in 1990s, China was still far behind Japan. The Chinese worker’s average monthly salary is about RMB 100 (about JPY 1250 in year 1994, A$ 20 today), it is just the same as the price of a glass nursing bottle in Japan.

When I suggested exporting Japanese products to China, the boss said “how can they afford the nursing bottle? It is their whole month salary!”.

As most foreigners, he didn’t know the grey income in China and the single child policy pushed six pockets to support one little emperor. The grey income includes the allowance for house, transport, foods and others. The six pockets are four grandparents from both side plus two parents. In China, baby is the first, so all these six incomes plus savings are for the baby. This was called “Little Emperor Syndrome” by some studies later.

With hesitation and doubt, the boss approved my trip to Shanghai and I came back with an order! Our export team was so excited for this first order from China and they suggested we pack our Thailand and Singapore made products because they are cheaper than Japan made products. I told them the first order is not to sell the products, it is to promote the BRAND. “Made In JAPAN” is the biggest selling point. We were the first imported baby goods brand in China and we became the most respectable baby goods brand in China. Today, China has become the biggest overseas market for this Japanese baby goods manufacture.

So the answer is not to ask “Can they afford my products”, but to ask “Do they need my products”? If they need your products, then this is your export market!

2: Why don’t they buy my products?

Now you sent your first shipment to overseas and was excited to see your products selling overseas. But the joy didn’t last long. The sales were so slow that most of the goods will expire. You want to know “why don’t they buy my products”?

When I started with my first Australian export client in 2005, the management was so excited about the growing China market and we spent one year focusing on China market. We got some small orders but the export growth was very slow and disappoint. During one trip to China, I visited South Korea and met with seven Korean companies in one day. The management suggested I should not waste time on Korea market while all the world are looking at China market.

However, I learn from “The Art of War” (by Sun Tzu) that you need to attack the weaknesses. I believe Korea is much less competitive for our products and we got a very good partner to work together. After six months of hard work we successfully signed contract with a big US fast food chain in Korea. They moved from their US supplier to us. One year later, we extended our business to other bakery companies. Korea became our biggest export market. My success Korea export story was published at Brisbane Business (Aug, 2010). If you want to read the full story, please email me.

Again, instead of asking “Why don’t they buy my products” you should ask “Why should they buy my products?”.

If you understand where the consumer will buy your products and why they buy your products, you have found your biggest export market.

The biggest export market is not only the population size and their purchase power; it is their needs and their wants that matter.

If you want to know more about how to find your biggest export market, please contact us.

We not only give you the report but also give you the result.

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