Posted by: sebdude | June 3, 2008

Grey Markets & Parallel imports, A real issue in today’s connected world? or not?

For today, no boring blog post about my life or my love for gadgets, twitter or whatever but about my master thesis. I’m nearing the end of my studies at Tilburg University, so now it’s time to start it. I’m going to focus my master thesis topic on international business, specifically marketing. The topic I went with was grey markets and parallel imports. The definition, according to is

A parallel import is a non-counterfeit product imported from another country without the permission of the intellectual property owner. Parallel imports are often referred to as grey product, and are implicated in issues of international trade, HIV/AIDS management, and intellectual property.

With all the sales today via Internet, ebay, online stores and various other methods of getting your goods overseas or boundaries, it very easy for grey markets to exist. Take for example Apple’s iPhone, you can buy it here Holland via or Several telecom webshops even offer the iPhone with dutch gsm plans for free, even though the iPhone is not officially released here yet. Even when they do, with the current dollar to euro exchange rate, it will probably still be cheaper to import the iPhone from the United states than to buy it. The iPhone grey market in Holland is doing very well, and Apple is really isn’t doing anything to stop it.

Now I don’t necessarily want to write my thesis about the iPhone’s grey market in the Netherlands, but it an idea.  My first proposal, which i will attach as an pdf to this blog post was even broader. I wanted to look at various consumer goods, see if there are grey markets for that good exist. Once I’ve done that, I will do a survey under the general public to see if they prefer grey goods to normal goods if they have the same waranty terms. I had to present this to my thesis coordinator, and it’s just way to broad to do all once and it would take much more time than i will have available to complete my master thesis. His advice was, go search for a company which competes with grey markets or has parallel import issues. The other option I would have is to go a marketing research bureau, like GfK or Nielssen and see If I can get access to there databases so that I can do research based on that data. When I need to collect the data myself, i need to use survey and use anova and regression analysis to analyze that data. So, in a nutshell it would very beneficial for me find company to do my thesis at, and I’m hoping they will respond to my letters, and or blog post.


  • Apple – iPhone related grey market in the Netherlands
  • GfK – research company with access to several interesting databases
  • Philips / Sony / Other consumer brands – online sales much cheaper than brick / mortar prices
  • Pharmaceutical companies such as Astrazeneca

Grey markets exist pretty much everywhere, but i think it most interesting to look at grey market sales that occur because of the Internet.  A lot of research has already been done looking at parallel imports in the Pharmaceutical industry, but not much to day regarding consumer electronics and grey market sales via the Internet. That why I’m hoping that Apple or Philips will allow me today thesis at one of those companies in a way that I can combine my research about grey markets with there problems so that research will constructed in such a way that it is beneficial to both parties.

If you have or own a company in the Netherlands or elsewhere that is struggle with parallel imports and you want to have research done into this issue and how to solve it, please drop me a line at sebastiaanvda [at] hotmail dot com.Thank you in advance.

If you have any tips or comments, please reply to my post. Anything can help.



  1. That can interest you?

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