It’s a well-known fact: a perceived lack of risk leads humans to lose sight of reality; too much risk, we freeze. And, so it goes with some companies and their efforts at international brand development.
On the one hand, they adopt a wing-it, reactive order-taking approach; on the other, they are overly cautious, building critical mass in the home market first. In both cases, money is left on the table and opportunity lost!
Rarely do they occupy the strategic middle ground where a successful global brand takes the time to deliberately unlock global brand equity through purposeful expansion strategies, and maps out customized market entry and brand-building plans tailored to local market conditions and realities.
For purposes of finding the coveted middle ground, where calculated risk and reward intersect resulting in successful international business expansion and brand development, below we break down the immediate demands of international brand building in today’s global marketplace.
However, to set the record straight on what it takes to begin building a global brand today, we must start by dispelling those prevalent myths and misconceptions associated with international expansion. With a cleaned slate, we identify the new realities of the global marketplace and the must-haves for building global brand equity.
MYTH 1: THE NON-STARTER
We build it, they will come: international consumers are lining up for Made in USA.
- While Made in USA still has equity, Made in Brazil, Australia, Korea, Japan, not to mention the traditional beauty players such as France and Italy, have emerged as significant global beauty players.
- The global consumer is always connected, savvy, and immensely discriminating, online and off.
- Increasing proliferation of omnichannel brands – global, regional and local – immersed in local consumers’ preferences.
- Consolidation of multinational brands and multinational retailers with increasing power and market presence
Internal Organizational Must-Haves:
- Global Market Intelligence
- Know Thyself: In for the long-haul mindset – resources, skill set and competencies, time
- The Roadmap: actionable priority opportunities
MYTH 2: SELF-DELUSION
Reactive order-taking as international brand building.
- There one day, gone the next: international customers and consumers are just as fickle as their US counterparts.
Local brand ambassadors and strategic partners that meet all of the following criteria:
- Your brand’s growth and development is their priority
- Deep immersion in local markets and customs
- Category experience
- Financially stable
- Strong relationships with local and transnational retailers
MYTH 3: EXPORT SALES VS GLOBAL BRAND BUILDING
One size fits all = bad business.
- Assortment and products may have to be adapted to regional needs from labeling to colors and fragrances and emulsifiers:
- ◦ floral in Asia, citrus in Latin America
- ◦ higher SPF in Asia vs Europe
- ◦ tropical fruit-scented body lotions in Europe; less appealing in Latin America
- International customers and consumers impacted by US pricing and positioning strategy as well as omnichannel initiatives
- Understand market differentiators in order to develop your global brand devotee
- Integrated global marketing strategy: consistent brand platform across and within markets: Consistent brand platform across and within markets
- Cultural resonance: Brands will fail if tone deaf
- Embedding Your Brand: Local advertising and promotional initiatives – relevant and meaningful
- Local brand and product training
- Pricing strategy and SRP that is competitive across markets
- Gross margin structure
- Spending levels by market (P&Ls)