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International business

We want to go international. A simple sentence, but it comprises much more we could even think of when actually starting to offer our proposition to an international audience.

What are key ingredients? Well, first the market analysis is paramount as a basis for developing your strategy to enter the market. A profound understanding of the different legal, political, societal forces in the market, market behavior, and customer’s needs which we could translate into a demand.

Applying what works best in your home country might utterly fail in a different market. In a recent discussion with one of my B2C customers the product manager described that every European country’s product manager tried to represent their respective market’s flavor in a spread. Trying to please every product manager they tried to adjust the initial formula. The result was awful. They had to change the formula.

Another customer, with headquarters in Japan, developed products but named their products in Japanese, making it harder for German customers to remember the product name. It’s easier for us to remember something that is familiar to us. Purchasing patterns differ as well. Starbucks coffee is handy when you are on your way to work, or just want to grab a cup while you are busy doing something else. In France, we see an entirely different coffee culture. In an ideal world we should be able to understand the market’s DNA. Your product might not fit to specific market needs. In a workshop one of my participants described that they had a hard time establishing their cookware in the US market. The US market is more convenience driven than the European market. Therefore information is key. However in reality we are often confronted with limited market knowledge especially in B2B. The market is more nontransparent, decision processes are not clear, potential customers are unknown. The challenge is to use a fraction of information and with help of methodological skills such as extrapolation estimate the potential market.

A systematic market approach will help to get the big picture of the market. Defining segmentation criteria, developing profiles, assessing the attractively of your profiles as well as an in-depth analysis of your target group’s need. The latter is the most interesting part.

13. December 2014