New Frontiers: Overcoming the challenges of international expansion

By Tim Furdui, Senior Research Analyst at Atomik Research

Market research is a fundamental prerequisite of international expansion for business. Without it, businesses expanding into overseas markets risk marketing their products and services blindfolded and to an unresponsive audience. As global trade becomes more important, insight will become paramount.

According to annual investment figures from UK Trade and Investment for 2013 to 2014 the UK is becoming a truly global economy attracting the most inward investment projects since records began in the 1980s. Annual investment figures show that the UK attracted 14 per cent more projects than last year and 66,390 new jobs were created by 1,773 investment projects set up by foreign businesses in the UK during the 2013 to 2014 financial year.

These figures correspond with the Forbes’ list of “The World’s Most Influential Cities 2014” which ranked London as the most influential city in the world thanks to the amount of foreign investment it has attracted and how many international corporate headquarters it houses. London is now Europe’s top technology start-up centre, according to the Startup Genome project, with upward of 3,000 tech startups as well as Google’s largest office outside Silicon Valley. The city’s connectivity is also frequently cited as one of the main reasons it has become an international hub for business.

But there is becoming a strong impetus on exporting British goods and services abroad. Emerging market economies are seen as the key growth areas for business and with many countries becoming increasingly accessible, growing businesses overseas has never been more achievable.

In an increasingly globalised world championing the ‘Made in Britain’ slogan abroad has been proved to be a lucrative endeavour if it is done correctly. But there are many challenges your business will need to overcome to make a successful move to a new jurisdiction which are listed in detail here, but for the purpose of this article, I’ll quickly review.

First of all, getting to grips with the cultural differences is a challenge. It’s axiomatic to suggest that baguettes are more likely to sell well in Paris than in Pretoria, but cultural intricacies are often deeply rooted and firms can miss a trick by not addressing what they are before expanding into new territories. This also applies to marketing and public relations. Just as you’ll find knock-knock jokes don’t usually translate outside of the UK there are many marketing messages that can be lost if you fail to adequately judge consumer sentiment.

Timing is also an important factor. Evaluating the current market conditions of the country you are looking to expand into will help you set realistic expectations of how well your product or service will perform or determine whether overseas expansion should be put on hold for now. Evaluating the various tax and legal requirements of expanding is also key.

Thankfully, these challenges can all be overcome with a bit of planning. As well as making a few visits to the area you wish to relocate to it is essential that you research your customer base. This will help establish whether there is sufficient demand for your product or services as well as identifying how to market it to your key audiences.

Market research is the best way of getting to grips with an overseas market. Our international market research is a great way of uncovering trends, consumer habits and quirks in overseas territories. We’ve developed a new and innovative approach to international market research to ensure we deliver results which give your brand the best chance of succeeding in an increasingly globalised economy.

Get in touch today to find out more.

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