Researching the market


Ramon is investigating the market for his products in South-East Asia. He studies a market research report, and has a very interesting offer from Songthai Enterprises.


Fred Hagendahl  
Ramon Figueras  
Mrs Sombat is the owner of Songthai Enterprises. She is Thai.
Waiter in a Bangkok restaurant. He is Thai.


Vocabulary Restaurants and social skills; analysing data.
Skills Being a guest; offering, accepting and delaying or refusing; getting information from graphs and diagrams; playing 'power games'.
Documents Data files; a map; bar and pie charts; a draft agency agreement; a letter.

Talking business over dinner - in a restaurant

12.1 Document study

Ramon decides to find out about Fred Hagendahl. He uses his portable computer to log onto the UCLA data network see the meaning, and searches the public data files on college alumni see the meaning. This is what he finds. Read it carefully. You will need it for 12.2 and other exercises in this lesson.

HAGENDAHL, Frederick Gamlin
b. 30 April 1962; son of James Hagendahl III, financier, and Melanie Gamlin. Educ. Choate, Harvard and UCLA. Grad. BSc Economics, 1983; MSc Business Science, 1986. Joined Universal Data Inc. see the meaning, Austin, Texas, as Divisional Sales Representative, 1986; promoted Area Sales Manager 1987; transferred to European subsidiary Universal Euro-Data plc see the meaning, London, England, 1988. Joined Tumblehome Inc. 1990 as Deputy Vice-President, Marketing; Director of Marketing since June 1991.

12.2 Writing practice: personal details

You are a publisher. Fred Hagendahl has just written a book on international marketing which you are going to publish. Write a short paragraph about Fred, which will be printed on the cover of the book. You can get all the facts you need from the UCLA alumni record in 12.1.


12.3 Listen and read

Ramon meets Fred for dinner at a large restaurant in the centre of Bangkok. Listen to what they say. How does Ramon try to start talking about business?

FRED Well, it was a real coincidence see the meaning, running into you at the airport like that.
RAMON Yes. Extraordinary see the meaning. But I needn't ask you see the meaning why you're here...
FRED Now. How are you with the Thai food? Been here before?
RAMON No, never. But I expect there's a set menu see the meaning.
FRED Not for me. Set menus are strictly for tourists. I always go for the à la carte see the meaning. Now then - which is our waiter?
WAITER Are you ready to order now, sir?
FRED Yes, please. I'd like numbers four, thirty and sixty-two.
WAITER Four, thirty and sixty-two. Thank you. And you, sir?
RAMON Well, I'm not sure. Perhaps you can advise me...
RAMON Mm, I enjoyed that seafood. I hope I can remember what it was called. Your spicy duck seemed to be a bit too spicy for you.
FRED No! Not at all. I was raised in New Mexico. We invented chilli peppers. Er, waiter, can you bring me another beer, please?

12.4 Listen and read

Ramon continues his conversation with Fred in the restaurant. Listen to what they say. Does Fred think that Ramon is going to be successful?

RAMON So, Fred, how are you getting on at Tumblehome? I hear see the meaning you're Director of Marketing now.
FRED How did you know about Tumblehome?
RAMON I dialled up the UCLA alumni public data file from the hotel this afternoon. So you're in the toy business too? How's it going?
FRED Great! Great! Of course, it'd be even greater if we'd got the merchandising concession for Dolphin Commando see the meaning. That's a very interesting piece of property.
RAMON That's right. It's the chance of a lifetime for us see the meaning. We'll never get another one like this.
FRED Well, Ramon, don't waste it. Now that I know you're here, I'll be keeping an eye on you see the meaning, and if it looks like you're going to blow it... see the meaning
RAMON Well, when I've worked out what I'm doing, I'm sure you'll be the first to know.
FRED You mean you don't have any idea what you're going to do with it yet?
RAMON I know what I'm going to do right now. Waiter! Could I have the bill, please?

12.5 Listen and read

Ramon continues his conversation with Fred in the restaurant. Listen to what they say. Who pays the bill?

WAITER Your bill, sir.
FRED No, no. I insist. I asked you here, let me pick up the tab. see the meaning
RAMON Oh! Well, in that case.
FRED You do take credit cards?
WAITER Thank you, sir.
RAMON An excellent dinner. Thank you very much, Fred.
FRED You're welcome. Hey, let's go on to a night club.
RAMON I'd like to, but I've got an early appointment tomorrow morning. I'm afraid you must excuse me.
FRED Of course. You're going to need a clear head. see the meaning

12.6 Listening practice: the games people play

Ramon and Fred are both working for toy companies, and they could be in competition with one another. Listen again to their conversations in 12.3, 12.4 and 12.5, and this time listen carefully to how they say things, as well as to what they say. What things does Fred say to make Ramon feel bad? What does Ramon do and say to show Fred that he is a capable business manager? For the rest of this lesson, listen out for other examples of these two playing 'power games'.


Talking to a marketing consultant

12.7 Document study: looking at a map

Ramon is now at the offices of Thaipro Consultants. Supa is showing him a map and some diagrams that she has prepared for him. Listen to what they say.

SUPA Right, this is a map of South-East Asia, so that we can see the position of Thailand relative to neighbouring countries. The circles snow the major urban centres of population, and there's a bar chart showing gross domestic product for each country, and pie charts showing the percentage of the population living in cities and large towns... Indonesia is the largest country in South-East Asia.
RAMON Yes, and I see that Malaysia's the second largest.
SUPA Yes. Singapore is the smallest in area.

12.8 Writing practice: making comparisons

Read 12.7 again. Then study the diagrams and write sentences making comparisons about the biggest, the second biggest and the smallest, for each of the topics below.

1 population
2 percentage of population living in cities
3 GDP per head
4 rate of GDP growth

12.9 Listen and read

Ramon continues his meeting with Supa. Listen to what they say. Why does Ramon want more figures? Why is Supa cautious about the figures for the future?

RAMON But I thought that this survey was supposed to cover Thailand, not the whole of South-East Asia.
SUPA That's right! This is just to set the country in its market context see the meaning. However, we believe that a broader view of the market may be needed - I'll have some more to say about that later ...
Here we see the population of Thailand analysed by age - you notice the very high proportion of young people - and on the right by social classification - basically that means by occupation and disposable income, per head. see the meaning
RAMON These are very interesting, but we would need to compare them with similar breakdowns see the meaning for, say, Spain or the United States, and if we're to spot any trends we'd also need disposable per-capita incomes see the meaning for Thailand in previous years.
SUPA Yes, of course! All that information is available in the rest of the report. What I would ask you to remember is although we've extrapolated the figures over the next five years see the meaning, under conditions of high inflation, reliable forecasting isn't easy.
RAMON No. It doesn't make my decisions very easy, either!
SUPA Obviously you want to consider all this data at your leisure see the meaning. All the statistics and diagrams - together with some supplementary data - are in our report. In addition, we've prepared a series of appendices on this floppy disk - it's really a series of spreadsheet files which you can interrogate see the meaning or browse through see the meaning. You can amend the figures and re-calculate, whatever you want.
RAMON Great! That should keep me busy. I'd like to talk to you again when I've digested this lot see the meaning. How about Thursday?

12.10 Reading for key words

Find the words or phrases in 12.7 and 12.9 that show you the following:

1 The only purpose of this is to show how Thailand fits into the present-day market.
2 The amount of money each person is able to spend for themselves. [Two expressions]
3 Large towns and cities.
4 Made a forecast by assuming that past trends will continue into the future.
5 When prices are rising quickly.

12.11 Find the word: marketing jargon

Read the text below on marketing. Write a word from the box to fill each of the gaps.


Any company that enters a new overseas market needs to know as much about that market as it can. It looks first at the country as a whole, the location of the major (a) centres and the (b) of the population that lives in them. The country's economic situation is important: its GDP, or (c) (d) product, and the (e) of GDP over a period of time, expressed as a percentage and measured in real terms - that is, allowing for (f) . But the product is going to be bought by individual (g) , so the company also needs a (h) of the population by age, sex, income and occupation. Most countries have a system of (i) classification. Marketing people usually want to know, not gross income, but (j) income per head. They also want the figures for several years; if they can identify (k) , they can (l) these into the future and (m) what people will be earning and spending a year or five years from now.


Conversation at a private function

12.12 Listen and read

Ramon goes to meet Mrs Sombat. She is one of the contacts that Jack Lytton gave Ramon, and she has asked him to her house for dinner. Listen to what they say. How do we know that Mrs Sombat is a successful business manager?

RAMON How do you do, Mrs Sombat. It's very kind of you to invite me to your house.
MRS SOMBAT You are very welcome, Mr Figueras. I am always glad to meet a former student of Professor Lytton. see the meaning I understand this is your first visit to Bangkok? I hope you are enjoying yourself and finding it interesting.
RAMON Yes, it's fascinating. And I'm also learning a great deal - which of course is what I came here for.
MRS SOMBAT Yes, we must discuss that. First let me offer you a drink. Champagne?
RAMON I'd rather have a soft drink see the meaning, if I may. Some fruit juice perhaps, or iced tea - or is there a popular local drink?
MRS SOMBAT Ah, I know! I'll get you some passion-fruit juice. This used to be my husband's favourite drink when he came back from the office. Very refreshing.
RAMON Is that your husband's portrait?
MRS SOMBAT Yes. He died five years ago. I took over the business - Songthai Enterprises - then, and I have been able to keep it ticking over since. see the meaning
RAMON Jack Lytton told me you've doubled the turnover and diversified into three other industries. see the meaning
MRS SOMBAT Well, you have to keep busy, don't you? Jack Lytton told me that you occupy yourself with making toys, on quite a large scale.

12.13 Listen and read

Ramon continues his conversation with Mrs Sombat. Listen to what they say. Does Mrs Sombat think that Ramon will find things easy or difficult?

RAMON I must say, that was the most delicious curry I've ever tasted.
MRS SOMBAT Good! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Now tell me more about your marketing strategy for Thailand see the meaning. It all sounds very exciting. My grandchildren in Wisconsin are Dolphin Commando fans, and I think the show is going to have terrific impact here. But you're going to have your work cut out to exploit it. see the meaning
RAMON Yes, it's a tremendous challenge, I just hope I don't blow it.
MRS SOMBAT You won't blow it, but you've got some hard times ahead of you - and some tricky decisions. see the meaning
RAMON Well, thank you for a very pleasant evening. I'm most grateful for your hospitality. see the meaning
MRS SOMBAT It's a great pleasure. Before you go, I'd like to suggest something to you. You needn't give me an answer straight away.
RAMON This sounds very interesting - what's the suggestion?
MRS SOMBAT How would you feel about my company acting as your agent in this country?
RAMON That certainly is interesting! I'd like to think it over, if I may? see the meaning

12.14 Reading for key words

Find the words or phrases in 12.12 and 12.13 that show you the following:

1 Mrs Sombat wishes to appear very modest about her business success.
2 Ramon wishes to compliment her on it by listing what she has achieved.
3 Ramon wants to give emphasis to what he is about to say.
4 The plans you are making to market your goods.
5 The show will be very popular.
6 You're going to have to work very hard indeed.

12.15 Speaking practice: offering, accepting, refusing

Listen to this conversation. Then listen again and speak the part of the man.

WOMAN Hello. Do come in.
MAN It's very kind of you to invite me to your house.
WOMAN You're most welcome. I hope you're enjoying your visit to this country. Now, let me get you a drink.
MAN Thank you, I'd like one.
WOMAN How about a glass of champagne?
MAN I'd rather have a soft drink, if I may.

12.16 Speaking practice: thanking and leaving

Listen to this conversation. Then listen again, and speak the part of the man.

WOMAN Do you have to leave so soon?
MAN Yes, I'm afraid so. But thank you for a very pleasant evening. I'm most grateful for your hospitality.
WOMAN It was a great pleasure. Before you go, I'd like to make a suggestion. You don't need to answer me now.
MAN That sounds interesting. What is it?
WOMAN I would like my company to be your agent in this country.
MAN Well, that is interesting. I'll think it over, and let you know tomorrow.

12.17 Document study

When Ramon returns to his hotel room the next day, he finds some documents from Mrs Sombat. Read through them carefully. Make a list of what Songthai are offering to do. Make another list of what Tortuga would have to do.

  1. The parties see the meaning: Juguetes Tortuga SA (the principal); Songthai Enterprises (the agent).
  2. Territory: Thailand initially, and subsequently whatever other areas may be agreed between the parties.
  3. Terms:
    3.1 It is a sole and exclusive agency, i.e. Songthai is not to represent any other toy company, Tortuga is not to deal with any other agent in the territory. If you deal direct with any customer in the territory, you will be liable to pay the normal agent’s commission see the meaning - see below.
    3.2 Songthai will actively promote your business, supply you with market information, and undertake advertising campaigns, product launches, etc.
    3.3 You will provide us with samples, etc. as required and will meet all reasonable expenses see the meaning for advertising and promotion and will reimburse us see the meaning for travelling and other expenses necessarily incurred. see the meaning
    3.4 We will provide copies of all orders, invoices and correspondence, and will send details of orders, sales and payments at the end of each month.
    3.5 We will collect payments on your behalf and make a settlement with you at the end of each month through our bank.
    3.6 We will chase see the meaning late payers and may, at your expense, use the services of a factor or debt collector. see the meaning
    3.7 Our commission will be at the rate of 10 per cent, to be calculated on prices f.o.b. Santander or other Spanish port see the meaning. Commission will be deducted from our monthly payments to you.
  4. The agreement shall run for two years in the first instance see the meaning, and may be renewed. It can be terminated by either party giving 3 months' notice in writing.
  5. The agreement shall be interpreted in accordance with the laws of Thailand.

Dear Mr Figueras

I enjoyed talking to you at dinner last night. I’ve been thinking about your situation and I’d like to make a proposal to you - that I, or rather my company, should become your agent in Thailand. At the moment we are in the motor trade, building construction, warehousing and distribution, and scientific instruments - so toys, at least, wouldn't clash with our other interests. I’ve tried to draft an agency agreement (enclosed) but this is just to put you in the picture see the meaning; we would of course get a lawyer to look after the formalities see the meaning. I look forward to hearing what you think of the idea.