Non-obvious Tools for Entering Foreign Markets
1923, Germany. Hugo Boss founded a small manufactory for the production of overalls and robes.
1932, Denmark. Ole Kirk Christiansen, a carpenter, together with his son launched production of wooden blocks.
1940, USA. Dick and Mac McDonald brothers opened their first restaurant.
That’s how the stories of Hugo Boss, Lego and McDonald`s began.
Now, the Hugo Boss network has over 1000 stores all over the world.
Over 220 million Lego sets are sold annually, that is 1 set each 7 seconds.
And, McDonald`s is one of the largest employers in the world with more than 2 million people employed.
Why do some brands grow to world famous ones from just small local companies, and the existence of others we may not even be aware of? Let’s figure out how tools help business to scale and conquer the international audience.
Read also: Localization in metaverse
Classic Tools for Conquering the International Market
They are ones known by all marketing specialists:
- PPC (Pay per Click) — online advertising, the payment for which is performed per visitor after clicking the link.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) — search engine optimisation, which allows affecting the ranking of websites or separate pages displayed in response to user requests.
- Email marketing – a method of promotion via e-mail newsletters, which allows engaging, retaining customers and increasing their loyalty.
- Content marketing – a balanced strategy of a brand’s communication with the audience using useful content, which allows building long-term trustful relationships and loyalty.
- Account-based marketing – a pinpoint approach in B2B marketing, when the company focuses on the specific customers and builds communication based on their needs and pains.
- Conferences, industrial events and webinars.
- Partnership programs and recommendations.
We won’t go into details of these tools as most of you are well aware of and apply them successfully.
But what works effectively in the local market sometimes won’t bring success in the foreign one. What happens when the verified marketing strategy together with the usual tools does not result in marketing and financial performance?
This is where new methods come in. Let’s talk about them.
Non-obvious Tools for Conquering the Foreign Audience
The international environment is a system consisting of economic, socio-cultural, political and legal, and other elements and factors affecting a company’s success. So, the company having made the decision to enter at least a single foreign market, should adapt its marketing strategy to new specific conditions.
- CULTURAL DIFFERENCES
This is one of the major factors that should be paid attention to.
Culture is a complex multidimensional system. Most differences in cultures are obvious: language, arts, religion, clothes, ways of entertainment and spending free time. And there are also those being invisible and unconscious, as for example, ways for expressing emotions, bringing up children, decision-making processes, ways for determining health and disease, time and space concepts. All these factors affect the way people behave, understand and process the world.
Awareness of these differences will help to develop an effective strategy for the foreign market conquering and ensure the customer’s loyalty even without additional investment in promotional tools.
Let’s take specific examples.
Cultural differences are also reflected in the creation of vocabulary and regular expressions.
- The languages of the Far North nations have a lot of words for snow in its different states, but they have no general notion of snow.
- The Spanish have “siesta”.
- The phrase “Being born in a shirt” has its equivalents in different nations: “Being born in a bonnet” in Polish, “Being born in a hood” in British, “Being born in silk and velvet” in Vietnamese, “Being born in a parent’s fur coat” in Mongol.
Common language doesn’t mean common culture. The Serbs, the Croats and the Yugoslav Muslims speak the same language – Serbo-Croatian – but they have different cultures. Think about the intercultural conflicts between the Scottish, the British, the Irish in Great Britain, or between the Basques and the Spanish in Spain etc.
History and political situation
- The swastika is forbidden in Germany, but it is regarded as a symbol of prosperity and happiness in some countries of the East.
- China has a tough government regulatory policy. Any content distorting historical facts about the country, propagandizing war or violence, depicting religion, cults, divination, ghosts, skeletons, blood is forbidden here. You cannot demonstrate luxury items, wealth and anything threatening social, moral and national cultural traditions.
- In the 1990s of the last century, the telecommunication operator ORANGE made a serious mistake in Ireland with its slogan “The future will be bright! The future will be… orange!”. In Ireland, orange is associated with the protestant party that has been opposing the Catholics for a long time. Thus, the majority of the population treated the slogan as a direct hint at the result of a political struggle for power.
Convictions. Traditions. Lifestyle
- The Americans associate the festive fireworks with the only holiday – Independence Day, on July 4. Moreover, cinnamon, rather than tangerine, is a symbol of winter holidays.
- The cat is a sacred animal in the Latin American countries, as well as in Ancient Egypt. The word “cat” is neutral in our culture, but the phrase “black cat” has negative connotations, as it is considered to bring bad luck and misfortune. In Britain, the black cat is a symbol of good fortune, unexpected happiness and is depicted on postcards with the inscription “Good luck”.
- We associate the red heart or red roses with love, but an orange is a symbol of happy love in Spanish folklore. A lemon is a symbol of bitter, deceived love. We treat horns as a sign of betrayal and a deer represents a lover in Spanish.
- Indians arriving in Ukraine are surprised by our calling parents informally “you”. As in Indian culture, it is proper to use exclusively “You” for any older person.
- The Marlboro cigarettes advertising “doesn’t work” in Latin America: a cowboy, a person riding a horse is a representative of the poorest people, who can smoke only the cheapest and thus low-quality cigarettes.
- Black in the West symbolises death, but it’s a revival in Egypt.
- Blue symbolises reliability, sustainability and perfection for Europeans and Americans. Therefore, it is often used on websites and mobile app interfaces. The Chinese believe blue to be a symbol of immortality, it is a symbol of the highest wisdom in India. Japanese associate it with meanness.
- Maroon is a colour of mourning in Mexican culture. One Spanish company didn’t know this when agreeing with Mexico on the sale of a large batch of corks from champagne, thus it had the temerity to paint them maroon. As a result, the agreement fell through.
The company should consider all cultural differences of the new market to ensure maximum compliance of its product with the needs of the foreign audience. Localization is used for this.
This is a language and cultural adaptation of the product and marketing content considering the needs and peculiarities of the target audience.
Localization is always followed by a detailed market analysis: cultural features of the region, language peculiarities, regulatory policy and infrastructure, competitor strategies, relevant search queries and search engine requirements.
Localization process can result in global product changes: brand name, appearance, updated functionality, marketing campaign adaptation.
This is how McDonald’s brand uses a localization strategy.
- Spanish network restaurants offer gazpacho tomato soup.
- Macaron cakes are sold in France.
- The Germans taste Nürnburger burgers with roast sausages and mustard, and wash them down with McBeer.
- Mozzarella and prosciutto are added to Italian burgers.
- In Cyprus and Greece, traditional breads are used instead of buns, and the sauce «Tzatziki» made from fresh cucumber and yogurt is added.
- Turkish restaurants treat with McTurko kebab and ayran.
- You can find a burger with salmon on the Norwegian menu.
- Japanese McDonald’s restaurants cook hamburgers with rice, shrimps and teriyaki sauce. The servings in Japan are even smaller than the “standard” American ones.
- In India, burgers are not cooked with beef, as the Hindus consider cows sacred animals. There are even completely vegan McDonald’s restaurants in the country.
Brand marketing specialists also take into account cultural peculiarities in communication, offering marketing events and advertising campaigns separately for each market.
- COMMUNICATIVE STRATEGY
Each culture is a unique world with its own needs, habits and beliefs. Different audiences have different values and factors affecting the product choice. Thus, the communication strategy should be adapted.
Let’s take some examples.
- American consumers appreciate excellent service, and the Germans appreciate functionality.
- Americans will purchase any goods only if they are able to return them as necessary. So, the convenient return option will increase your possibilities for product promotion.
- In Asia and China, people safely buy what is chosen by the majority. Thus, the goods for this market should not be special and exclusive; its adaptation for the local audience will be enough. The same applies to promotional tools.
Erin Meyer, the author of The Culture Map book, has identified high- and low-context cultures, based on her long experience.
Low context means better accuracy of the message without any ambiguity. People of low-context cultures say what they think without any irony or allusions. So, they expect the same from others. These countries include the USA, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. When communicating with the representatives of these cultures, it is better to use direct messages, pay attention to the facts and share specific suggestions.
In high-context countries, communication is built based on personal intuition and experience. Many Asian countries have many words with different meanings in different contexts. Indirect messages are best suited for communication with people from China, Japan and Indonesia.
When entering a new market, the business objectives include customer base expansion, turnover and net profit increase. That is, they are almost the same as when opening a new company. Therefore, you should thoroughly analyse the target region and carefully consider the development of a strategy prior to scaling. And, to conquer the foreign audience quickly and with minimal cost, use non-typical tools discussed in the article: cultural differences, localization and communicative strategy.
Read also: How do national characteristics affect game localization and app software?
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