Winning over a foreign market

Posted: 19th May 2016 08:08

In today’s business world, approaching new, foreign markets is easier than ever before. The recent growth in fast internet and technology allows companies to penetrate and target consumers based not only in different countries, but also continents. In fact, if planned and executed correctly, even a small local business can successfully target an international market through their digital presence.

Although the vision of conquering a foreign market with a service or product seems like an exciting and promising idea for a growing number of UK based business owners, there is a number of factors which simply must be taken into account prior to international business expansion. As previously mentioned, approaching foreign markets is now easier than ever, but that still doesn’t mean that it’s easy at all.
Market Research

One of the very first and most important steps to take before approaching a foreign market is finding out as much valuable information about it as possible. In majority of cases, businesses fail due to entering a market which simply isn’t suited for their product or service. A saturated market with low prices, demand and high competition isn’t at all ideal for a newcomer. Taking steps needed in order to find the perfect environment for your company and what is has to offer in order to grow is vital.
Talk to customers in their language

Many UK SMEs forget that not everyone in the world is able to speak English. They assume that just because a marketing campaign was successful in their home market, it’ll naturally work well abroad. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case at all. Being able to communicate with your target audience in their native language can be a great advantage to your company. In fact, a recent survey revealed that over 90% of customers is more confident and prefer to purchase goods if the information about an item is available to them in their mother tongue. In order to successfully send your business message across to your potential customers, it is strongly advised that you translate your marketing as well as any legal materials. Although a growing number of free online tools such as Google Translate are now widely available, they are still not very accurate and don’t have the capability to localise your message. Therefore, using a professional translation agency is perhaps the best solution. There are several such agencies specialising in marketing or legal translations such as Translation Services UK and working with these agencies will ensure accuracy, localisation and professionalism. Although in the short term you’ll have to incorporate such services within your budget, in the long run they can save you a lot of money and keep you away from harming your company image.

There are a number of theories as to how you should go about approaching a new, international market. Some prefer the ‘same-for-all’ idea, where each individual market is penetrated using the same methods and content while others prefer a localised version. Localisation means that each market you are planning on entering is closely analysed and looked at as an individual entity, and then the best possible version of your product/service for that market is used, increasing the chances for success. A great example of a company which tried using both of these theories for one market is the furniture giant Ikea. In 1986 Ikea entered the Japanese market with the ‘same-for-all’ approach. In its first store in Japan, it introduced a range of furniture known from the European markets. This naturally couldn’t work in Japan. Not only Ikea didn’t consider that Japanese people are slightly more sensitive to great customer service compared to Europeans, but also, and perhaps most importantly, Ikea forgot that the living space and houses in Japan are much smaller to the ones in Europe. Naturally, furniture which was simply too large for the Japanese houses and space available to the consumer had to fail miserably. Nevertheless, the Swedish company did their homework and several years later re-entered the Asian market with a range of smart-furniture, accustomed for the Japanese buyer. 
Find out who they are

Similarly to finding out about your target market, gathering important information about your potential consumers can be key. There are a number of different factors which can influence their consumer behaviour and impact the final outcome of your campaign. From Social and cultural factors to religious and political views – it is extremely significant to understand your customers fully and target them with the correct message. A really good place to start analysing your audience is running the PEST analysis. By completing these, you’ll have a much greater insight into who your product or service is actually targeted at, and so you’ll be able to adjust your campaign accordingly.

As you can see international expansion isn’t as simple as it may seem at first. There are a lot of different factors which can affect the final outcome of your company’s internationalisation. Nevertheless, beginning with these four simple steps can definitely give you a head start.