13.1 Niche marketing/market segmentation
Before considering where to find information about foreign markets, the potential
exporter should understand one of the most important principles of export
marketing – the concept of niche markets or market segmentation (the two terms
have the same meaning).
The aim of every marketer is to be a preferred supplier to the chosen markets.
The challenge for small companies is to achieve such a position even though they
may be competing against much larger firms. The small company can do this by
identifying in the overall market small niches or segments whose specific needs it
can meet and by tailoring its marketing efforts to those niches.
For food products, including processed fruits, vegetables and nuts, the following
are examples of some niche or market segments:
• Income levels: products might offer exclusivity to the very rich or exceptional
value for money for the less affluent.
• Pack sizes: small packs might be offered to consumers who cannot afford to
buy large ones, or who do not have the space to store large ones (e.g. dwellings
in the Far East are often very much smaller than those found in the West). On
the other hand, bulk packs could be offered to institutions (schools, universities,
hospitals, prisons, hotels and so forth).
• Health consciousness: products with natural ingredients might be preferred
by the health-conscious, who might be reached through membership of health
and sports clubs.
- The concept might extend to residents of old age homes, or perhaps to
exclusive nursing homes and recuperation centres.
- Age-related products: there are any number of products that appeal to
people of a specific age group. Older, more conservative people have
different tastes in food to younger people.
- Cultural and /or religious differences create a demand for certain food
products, such as Kosher and Halaal certification.
Readers of this manual should already have a good idea of many of the essential
issues that have to be taken into account when exporting and therefore have to be
researched. The following is a summary of necessary market research issues.
• Different cultures, languages, business customs and laws: Some of
the factors that can affect business negotiations across cultures are: decisionmaking
time; thought patterns; social behaviour; attitude to material possessions;
family relationships; risk avoidance; competitiveness; and short- and long-term
• Banking and foreign exchange: Not only will exporters need to understand
foreign currencies and South Africa’s exchange control regulations; they will also
need to understand something of the banking practice in the target market and
should seek advice from the foreign or international branch/division of their bank.
• More complex product standards and specifications: This can be one of the
most challenging differences between market requirements in South Africa
and those in target export markets. DAFF’s export regulations on certain
processed fruits, vegetables and nuts are designed to meet many foreign market
requirements. Nonetheless, this is one of the first areas you will need to research.
13.3 Where can information be found?
There is no central source of information covering all the issues of all possible target
markets. Some sources, such as the World Trade Organisation, cover certain
specific issues for most countries. Others, such as the CIA World Factbook, cover
a wide range of aspects of most countries, but only at a macro level, not at a
specific marketing level.
The following is a guide to information sources:
• HS code: The Harmonised System numerical code by which goods are classified
in international trade. The full classification of the product in target markets must
be checked to be sure of obtaining the correct import duty information. Help from a
• Country Information:
− South Africa’s trade representatives/embassies abroad (www.dirco.gov.za >
Websites of SA missions, then click on target country);
− CIA World Factbook at: www.cia.gov > Library > Publications, then click on
The World Factbook;
− CBI (Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries, The
Netherlands) at website www.cbi.eu (see further comments under 13.4);
− International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva, at website: www.intracen.org >
exporters, and select information type;
− EU information at website: http://europa.eu.int; business directories e.g. www.
kompass.com and www.europages.com; Euromonitor at www.euromonitor.com;
− Country profiles from local banks; general news media and trade journals in target
• Banking infrastructure in target markets: Exporter’s bank for basic information.
• Transport/communications infrastructure: Freight forwarder.
• Market access:
− Freight forwarder;
− Foreign country’s embassy/consulate in South Africa;
− SARS website at www.sars.gove.za >Client Segments > Customs and Excise >
Processing > Pre-assessment > Registration > Local exporter;
− Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) at www.thedti.gov.za > Trade, Exports
& Investment > Market Access > Trade Agreements;
− South Africa’s trade representatives/embassies abroad at www.dirco.gov.za >
Websites of SA missions, then click on target country.
• Import licensing and import tariff system: Foreign country’s embassy/consulate
in South Africa; freight forwarder; for US, including AGOA, http://dataweb.usitc.gov.
Special customs provisions, such as advance rulings on Customs classifications
and entry regulations and procedures: Freight forwarder; information should be
checked with Customs officials during a market visit.
• Technical, food, health and safety standards: DAFF for regulated processed
fruits, vegetables and nuts; foreign country standards body (info from SABS); for
EU countries consult the CBI website: www.cbi.eu.
• Packaging and labelling regulations: Foreign country’s standards body or
trade regulatory body; for EU countries consult the CBI website: www.cbi.eu.
• Documentary requirements: Freight forwarder should assist. The buyer/agent
should inform the exporter of foreign market requirements.
13.4 CBI Services
CBI – the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries – is
probably the most comprehensive information source for companies wishing to
export products to EU countries. All information is provided free of charge and
covers general manuals on exporting, exhibiting at foreign trade fairs, and similar
issues, as well as specific reports on individual product groups.
Readers of this manual should visit the CBI website and register, which is a onceoff
simple process. They should then go to www.cbi.eu > market intelligence
platform, and select processed fruits, vegetables and edible nuts from the drop
down menu. A range of issues will then be available concerning different aspects of
exporting this range of products to EU countries:
• Trendmapping: insights and foresights on key European market dynamics
• Market competitiveness.
• Channels and segments.
• Tradewatch, covering trade statistics
• Buyer’s black box: What is on the mind of a European buyer.
• Business landscape.
• Product factsheets.
• Buyer requirements.
• Database of specific market reports.