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Extending Hoosier Business Borders

One way to grow a business is to draw more customers. Simple marketing can attract local consumers, but what if potential customers are of a different culture or even in another country?

What Latino Customers Want

With the growing Hispanic population in Indiana, marketing to Latinos has become an essential strategy for more Hoosier businesses. Knowledge of the Latino customer base also affects the potential for international trade, said Kelli Selby, international coordinator for Purdue University Extension.

Photo provided by Jim Luzar

Jim Luzar (left) worked with strawberry growers in El Salvador.  

In order to help Indiana businesses learn more about Latino consumers, Purdue Extension will match graduate students trained in market research with 15 agribusinesses for the purpose of increasing trade between Indiana and Latin America.

The market researchers will work with participating businesses and Purdue Extension experts to determine research objectives with regard to targeting Latino customers. Information for the project will be gathered during a 10-day research study in Costa Rica to be conducted summer 2006.

"The research obtained abroad will help companies direct their products and services toward Latino consumer needs," said Selby. "Data will be collected from a variety of food and agriculture sources, including restaurants and grocery stores."

Selby said the effort would help businesses find international opportunities.

"For instance, Costa Rica is experiencing a rise in the number of movie theatres. An Indiana popcorn farmer may be able to link up with that industry and provide cinemas with the food products they need," she said.

For more information on the international business research project, contact Selby at (765) 494-9831.

Some Tricks Behind International Trade

Conducting business abroad requires a lot of legwork and numerous contacts, according to Jim Luzar, who has traveled overseas on product development projects.

Luzar, Purdue Extension director in Montgomery County, said business owners around the world experience the same frustrations. "It's not easy to determine what will work or what's a safe bet,' he said.

A member of the Purdue New Ventures Team, Luzar said marketing to different cultures requires an understanding of their tastes and preferences.

Luzar said effectively communicating what your business has to offer to those in other countries is also essential. He points out that one Indiana firm was able to sell fruit packaging containers to strawberry producers in El Salvador thanks to the high-quality images of the products posted at the company's Web site.

Selby said efforts such as the Purdue Extension international business research project would help Hoosiers expand their economic potential.

"This could help businesses capitalize on the advantages of international trade," she said.