Although in most cases exporters generally try to export the products that they are currently producing in the domestic market (albeit it often with some minor – or even major – adaptations), the time may come to consider developing a new product specifically for the export market. This may not be as illogical as it first seems. The exporter may identify a need that is not currently being met and the exporter may have the technical expertise to develop and produce the desired product. This opportunity may give rise to the exporter undertaking the necessary research and development (R&D) to bring the new product to life.

Sources of new product ideas

There are a variety of sources of new product ideas including:

  • Your firm’s distribution agents and/or company sales staff operating in the various export market
  • The overseas customer (with whom you are in constant contact)
  • International organisations and publications that report on new inventions – including new patents
  • Exhibitors at international trade fairs. Some fairs are general industrial shows but others focus on a specific product or industry, e.g. automotive, electronics, photographic, etc. and are a generous source of new product ideas.
  • Planning programmes of governments and international agencies. These are published by international organisations and cover all types of economic activity. Projects in agriculture, infrastructural development, health, education, housing, etc. can indicate new product opportunities for equipment and chemical manufacturers, food and pharmaceutical companies, publishing houses and educational suppliers

Advantages of getting new product ideas from the foreign marketplace

There are several advantages in obtaining new product ideas from the foreign marketplace:

  • Because the idea is generated by a market need, it is less speculative than an idea based solely on technological possibilities.
  • he market needs identified are usually high priority items and are therefore assured of financial backing.
  • Response to market needs can assist the company in acquiring a better corporate image in the market place where it will be seen to be identifying with specific problem areas.
  • The company may be able to benefit from selling, in other markets, the product originally developed for one country.

Besides for developing new products, the time may also come for an established exporter to consider eliminating obsolete products from the market place.