How to Select a Product to Import

China, Hong Kong Harbor, tugboat sailing alongside container ship
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What gives you the most fulfillment as a businessperson? Is it creating value by meeting consumer demands? Is it the challenge of spotting a trend, positioning yourself to take advantage of it, and striking it rich? Or is it the chance to spend your time dealing with a commodity you love? You have two viable reasons for choosing a product to import:

  1. Because you know it will sell.
  2. Because you like it.

Let’s consider both alternatives.

Select a Product That Sells

Start with a product that you know will sell—if not everywhere, at least somewhere. At the very least, start with a product that you would buy. Blackberry, Netflix, and Apple’s electronic gadgets became global successes because the companies' founders created high-quality products and services they'd be glad to buy or use themselves. They were packaged exquisitely and sold at a value. On the way to global success, the founders talked about their products to their family, friends, and media.

You might try the same tactic: when you find a product for importing, show it to anyone who will listen to your pitch. If every person responds positively, you are onto something big. If on the other hand, you receive a lukewarm response from most listeners, you need to find another product fast. Remember, once you find the right product, you have to find the right market. Will it be your own?

Select a Product You Like

What do you absolutely love? Dark chocolate sea salt bars or a sensitive facial cream that also serves as a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin? Whatever you love, make sure it is easily (e.g., not a lot of red tape involved) importable and is in demand in the market of choice.

For example, if you want to import dark chocolate bars into the United States, will customers buy them? Make sure your product offers something unique that people in the United States don't already have. Conduct market research, test the market with a handful of prospective customers and then go with whatever positive information you have available.

You will improve your odds of picking a winner if you cultivate a knack for tracking trends ​or even spotting potential trends. The goal is to find a product that is unique, cheaper and better made than anything else on the planet. Getting in on the ground floor and importing a product on an exclusive basis before it becomes a super-seller in its country of origin could be the business breakthrough of a lifetime!​