Emerging markets continue to grow along with disposable incomes in those regions, and although the road may sometimes be bumpy, many investors are still looking to expand to the Asia-Pacific region. One of the biggest challenges facing global investors is that many traditional strategies and business models in Europe and other western markets aren’t always as successful as expected, so new ones must be developed and tested. Here are 3 Things to consider when looking to “globalize” your brand by investing in expansion strategies:
1 – When in Rome…
You understand how successful your business model has been based on accumulated years of experiences in other markets, but are you 100% sure that it works the same way in a country filled with people speaking different languages and behaving unpredictably due to local customs?
Not fully understanding customer behaviors in new regions can have disastrous results. Some analysts believe this might be the reason that Wal-Mart and Carrefour withdraw from the Japanese and Korean markets. In Korea, although shopping for specific needs is still the major reason for shopping, Korea customers enjoy the feeling of window-shopping as a leisure activity, maybe more-so then other markets. In Japan, shoppers care more about immediate fresh foods and products, and aren’t willing to stock large amounts of items at home from large locations outside of the downtown areas, in spite of the cost saving advantages.
2. Speak the right language
Can local consumers understand what you want to tell them about your products? Are your brochures, websites, and advertising speaking the right language? There are many famous examples of brands who unknowingly communicated the wrong message in new markets, due to a lack of research and language understanding, here are a few examples you might find humorous. However the result of miscommunication is no laughing matter, it has the potential to cause very real damage to your brand. It’s very important to be aware of how local consumers really communicate because simply translating all your materials and messaging into the local language is not enough anymore.
3. Understand response differences / be aware of…
People from difference cultures tend to respond and react differently according to their local cultural customs, habits and preferences. While certain products may sell very well in office buildings in your own country, they might not necessarily succeed in the same types of shopping environments in other markets, like Asia, for this reason. As far as establishing a brand presence goes, it’s naive to think that local consumers will swarm like bees after simply creating a local website yet still using the same commercials and promotions. People appreciate products created with their own local interests and tastes in mind, presented in a way that tells their own unique story.