• Overview
  • 1. How to Select Most Promising Markets for Exports
  • 2. How to Enter Most Promising Markets


Market research is an important integrated part of your export plan. In other words, the market research helps you identify which markets or countries have the highest potential for your product or service and the most cost-effective strategy to enter them.

1. How to Select Most Promising Markets for Exports

Selecting the most promising countries for your products or services should be conducted over two stages:

Stage 1: Desk Research

First, the desk research needs to be conducted to be able to identify the countries with high export potential for your product. The desk research includes looking at the following data:

  • Trade Statistics
    • Global market trends: you need to look at the most important markets in terms of import values and volumes (leading importing countries) for your product, growth of imports for your product, upcoming or emerging markets that show high growth rates of import for your product.

    • Exports trends from Lebanon: identify the countries that import your product from Lebanon, examine export values, and identify countries with the highest average growth rates of exports of your product from Lebanon.

  • Market Access Restrictions
While doing research, you might identify out countries where there is large demand for your product. But that does not mean that this market is fit for you yet. You need to check beforehand how easy or hard it is to access this market and do business there For example, some countries ban exported Lebanese products of animal origin. Therefore, it is important to look at all those regulations prior to exporting and to compare countries in order to identify which ones have more favorable conditions for the market entry.

  • Macroeconomic Data
While researching your potential markets, it is important that you study their macroeconomic situation to understand GDP growth over the last few years, their residents purchasing power, age demographics, unemployment, poverty rates… All these factors will help you understand the potential of your products in these markets. Studying the currency fluctuation and political stability or instability also helps you understand existing risks in these markets.

  • Customer Needs
You need to study consumer habits and trends in your target markets in order to understand where there is high demand and how you can adapt your product to meet this demand (such as changing the label, changing the packaging, etc.).

  • Competitors Analysis
Researching your competitors in your target markets helps you understand their pricing and competition strategy as well as their weaknesses and strengths. In turn, you will be able to develop your own value proposition in these target markets.

Through the competitors analysis, you will be able to identify if there are any existing gaps in your target market and the possibility of filling it. You will also be able to identify if there is saturation in your market, which signifies that the market would be difficult to enter.

Stage 2: Primary Research

Following the desk research, primary data collection is needed to validate the findings of the first-stage research. You can validate these findings through various ways:

  • Contact experts in your domestic or target market.
  • Speak to international buyers and importers in your target market.
  • Talk to existing exporters from your country active in your target markets.
  • Attend a well-known international trade show in your target region to understand export potential of the different countries.

Desk research, along with the primary research, will help you rank countries with the highest potential for export success and that exhibit a high level of profitability.

2. How to Enter Most Promising Markets

After having identified the country with the highest potential for your product, it is time to do a more in-depth research to find out the best approach to enter this market.

Stage 1: Desk Research

The desk research helps provide valuable information on the optimal market entry and positioning as well as the most suitable trade partners for this market. The desk research should aim to address the following questions:

  • What is the age structure in this market?
  • What are other demographic characteristics to look out for?
  • What are the consumer needs, habits, trends, etc.?

  • Is there any culture affinity between my country and target market? Do we share similar historical and cultural habits? Are there any language barriers?
  • What are the recent economic developments? (E.g. GDP growth, GDP per capital, monetary and fiscal policy, etc.)
  • What are the recent political developments? (E.g. country risk rating, political system, etc.)

  • Is the competition fragmented or concentrated?
  • Who are the main suppliers? From which country? What is their pricing strategy?
  • What is the best strategy to compete with them? (E.g. differentiating, attracting, relevant, sustainable, etc.)

  • How far is this market from my base? How well connected are we in terms of flights and transits?
  • Do they have good transport infrastructure? Do they have cargo trains? Internal airports?
  • Are there any free zones?
  • Where are the largest warehouses located?
  • What are the most typical trade partners? How can we reach them? What are their requirements?

Stage 2: Primary research

As in the first stage of your market research, primary on the ground research can be valuable to help you validate your findings from desk research. You can validate the data by conducting one of the following activities:

  • Contact experts in your domestic or target market.
  • Speak to international buyers and importers in your target market.
  • Talk to existing exporters from your country that export to your target market.
  • Conduct consumer surveys in your target market to understand customer needs and behaviors.
  • Attend conferences or trade shows in your target market to understand trends and opportunities.
  • Contact economic attaches in the Lebanese embassies to get insights on market trends.

Sources to use
To single out markets with high potential, make use of the statistical tool Trademap. It provides you with worldwide statistics on export performance, international demand, and alternative and competitive markets.

If you are looking for a reliable source that can help you in validating your potential markets, use export potential map tool by ITC that can provide you with a list of countries with the highest untapped potential for export by products.

If you are looking for specific market data on Europe, CBI provides valuable sector and product-specific market information as well as legal requirements on potential export markets in Europe.

For trade statistics data, the UN COMTRADE database and the WITS by the World Bank provide reliable information.

To understand market access restrictions, you can use Market Access Map by ITC to understand the various tariff and non-tariff barriers per country and product.

Access2markets tool is another web portal developed by the EU commission that provides product-specific information on tariffs and taxes, customs procedures, rules of origin, trade barriers, and product requirements, covering more than 120 export markets around the world.

Our product market reports on the LEBTRADE platform also enable you to research market access, legal requirements, and standards by specific products in target markets.

The Google market finder helps companies identify countries with high potential for their products based on data analytics. The tool also provides information on these countries including macroeconomic data and export requirements in order to compare between them.

Other sources for reliable macroeconomic data include the World Bank data, Economist Intelligence Unit, IMF, and Oxford Business Group.

Ipsos, Nielsen and Euromonitor are examples of reliable sources on consumer trends in specific markets and specific product categories. They offer paid reports that can be highly valuable for your research. Free resources include the CBI website that provides trends on consumer habits in Europe.

There are various consultancies and research companies that provide guidance on business culture and etiquette in specific markets.


  • Use reliable sources for your market research.
  • Plan your research
  • Start with desk research followed by primary research to validate and enrich your data from desk research
  • Prepare for interviews with experts thoroughly
  • Make sure that your market research helps to address the questions in your export plan