In today’s global economy, many companies of all sizes are expanding their businesses into foreign markets.
Expanding a business into international markets can provide several advantages. Increased revenue streams, an expanded customer base or getting exposure to foreign investment opportunities are a few examples.
Yet, other companies are still hesitating on whether to take their local company global. How can international marketing help companies expand to new markets?
The effect of globalization on business
Over the past few decades, the world became as small as the digital devices we keep in our pockets. The rise of information technology made developed economies invest in labour-saving technologies and worldwide low-cost labour to raise productivity.
This led to a global workforce of 3.5 billion people worldwide (McKinsey Global Institute, 2012) and a larger global consumer market. To keep up with the fierce competition, businesses need to adapt to a global economy.
Why do companies expand into international markets?
Companies expand into international markets for several reasons. The five main benefits of international expansion for companies are:
1. New Markets
International expansion offers a chance to reach new markets, appeal to new consumers and increase sales. This larger playing field holds the promise of company growth.
It’s common for businesses undergoing international expansion to diversify their product and service offerings. Branching out or expanding on core competencies can protect a company against unforeseen events like negative growth or unfavourable trends.
Introducing new products and services into international markets can result in a more globally attractive and diverse portfolio.
3. Access to local talent
Expansion into a global market is also an opportunity to access new talent. International labour can offer companies unique advantages, such as increased productivity, advanced language skills and diverse educational and cultural backgrounds.
Multilingual employees with an international outlook can act as localisation experts, providing valuable insights into specific consumer groups. Cultural diversity has also been proven to stimulate innovation within a company.
4. Competitive advantage
Companies also choose international expansion to gain an edge over their competitors. Businesses that expand to markets before their competitors can enjoy a first-mover advantage, building strong brand awareness with consumers before their competitors join the fray.
Furthermore, international expansion helps companies get access to modern technologies and industry ecosystems, which can improve their operations.
5. Foreign investment opportunities
Finally, foreign markets can offer additional investment opportunities. This enables companies to access added resources and make new business connections.
What are the challenges of international expansion?
Despite these benefits, achieving international expansion can be a challenging task for a business of any size and from any industry. Businesses face four key challenges when undertaking a market expansion strategy into international markets. They include:
1. Local customer preferences
Many companies assume that their existing competitive advantages will transfer over seamlessly to international markets. But customers differ by country and businesses often underestimate the strengths of the local business landscape. Existing products may need development to meet the needs and wants of potential customers abroad, and a business will lose market share if it’s not willing or able to adapt to local demands.
2. Increased costs
Entry requirements can differ per country, but building new infrastructures, setting up an operational business entity abroad and paying local workers can be costly and time-consuming, as expanding into new markets requires an investment of time and resources.
3. Compliance risk
Entering new markets also requires an awareness of the country’s legal framework. A business must operate according to the country's regulations, which can vary greatly. Partnering with experts that can advise and help your business to remain compliant is key to successful global expansion.
4. Managing international employees
It’s also important to ensure your workforce is comprised of employees that meet all legal requirements for work and expertly manage payroll obligations.
How should companies react when a business strategy fails to translate?
Taking stock to identify and evaluate the shortcomings of a failing international expansion strategy is the first step. The second is to take one of the following approaches:
1. Make minor adjustments
Making slight changes to the current company's market strategies can help businesses expand more efficiently, helping to bridge the gap between the company’s existing market and the new local conditions.
2. Develop entirely new competitive advantages
When existing competitive advantages do not work, working to develop new competitive advantages can be a great option to succeed globally.
3. Leave the market altogether
If progress is not achieved and no solutions are apparent, a business can also opt to leave the market. Many companies choose to do this, as international market expansion is often a complex and financially intensive task.
However, the benefits frequently outweigh the challenges if they can be overcome. Great rewards can be achieved when the right strategy is well executed. This is where international marketing comes in.
What is international marketing?
International marketing is the way to focus a product or service on the needs of potential buyers in other countries.
An international marketing strategy is no longer reserved for major brands. Having a global presence is possible for any business with a creative strategy and an understanding of world markets.
The core ingredients of a successful international market expansion strategy are:
- Knowing your audience, the people that need your product or service
- Knowing in which form they need it
- Knowing how to market it in a way that strengthens the brand
How can international marketing help expand companies into new markets?
International marketing can help companies create and use standardised marketing messaging and campaigns across markets, countries, and cultures. If the user experience and imagery are the same across different countries, this international marketing strategy is called global standardisation. This approach has the advantage of being more cost-effective, as less messaging, and fewer language campaigns are needed.
In contrast to global standardisation, international marketing can also help companies with localisation. This is a more differentiated international marketing approach that uses specialised messaging for local markets and campaigns in their respective languages.
But how do you know which strategy is most effective? The global standardization method may be more suitable if you’re promoting a universal brand, where despite cultural differences there is no difference in how the brand is perceived from country to country. If this is not the case, localization is the better choice.
How to create a successful international marketing strategy and expand the reach of your business
As a marketing manager, you need to find out what your audiences in different target markets have in common and how to localise your products for these markets, starting with small steps and working your way up as the business grows.
In this regard, partnering with an internationally oriented marketing agency makes the business market expansion process quicker, more straightforward, and more cost-effective.
Such an agency will provide your business with an international marketing team that speaks multiple languages and will also help your company develop a global standardisation or localised approach, or a tailor-made solution that draws from both.
Additionally, it will provide your business with localised market knowledge about cultural sensitivities, products, service wants and needs and local competition.
Finally, an international marketing agency can guide you through the entire market entry and marketing strategy process.
Developing marketing strategies and creating specialised marketing assets adapted for international audiences can be challenging, but Xplore Digital is here for you. Our team of digital marketing consultants can provide you with a top-notch international marketing strategy for new markets. Or you can contact us for advice on the market expansion