UK Government
Strategy & Operations
Using data to drive the British economy
Project Types
Strategic marketing
The challenge

The British Government’s Department for International Trade has an ambitious target to reach £1 trillion in inbound trade and investment – yet the approach relied too heavily on individuals in key outposts rather than data and on broad-brush marketing efforts rather than targeted messaging.

Our approach

We built a blended framework to solve the problem, using advanced data modeling with expert insights and B2B interviews.

Stakeholder interviews We quickly realized that the data that stakeholders needed – the key sectors and markets where its exports perform well in, and those where it performs less well – was missing. This required intensive modeling of data.
Data concordance We developed a solution and universal methodology, applied consistently across markets and sectors, that unlocked the key trade and investment opportunity areas by modeling UN COMTRADE data.
Propensity to buy model Working with leading thinkers in trade and investment decision-making, we then built a model – the propensity to buy – and used it to conduct extensive fieldwork to identify perception and policy change requirements annually to plan for – and measure the impact of – improvements.
Understanding decision drivers This allowed us to uncover a range of sectors and markets where marketing investments should be prioritized (as they have room for growth) and where marketing shouldn’t be – helping shift from a blanket approach to a targeted approach. Further still, we isolated key decision drivers and measured their impact across different businesses to inform the creative messaging.

Our work was synthesized into a strategic green paper entitled 'SWIM' (Spending Where It Matters). The work detailed where marketing efforts and messaging should be focused for maximum impact to increase the efficacy of marketing budgets in the countries and sectors where the propensity to trade and invest with the UK showed the most feasible opportunities to grow.


Our result built an infrastructure to help DIT focus its global marketing budget away from a blanket strategy towards focused markets and sectors, and messaging to key targets. It was so successful that it was presented in Whitehall.

In a word, Canvas8 are exceptional. I’ve worked with them previously and in my role of influencing global marketing principles, processes, and strategies, I’ve asked them back again at an even more critical part in the international transformation of our organization to assist in providing the single go-to resource and moment of truth to allow us to set benchmarks against as well as hang business planning from in the immediate future.Head of research and intelligence, Department for International Trade
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