- Electronic Retailer - http://www.electronicretailermag.com -

Eight Tips for Entering an International Marketplace

The increasingly global business environment is pushing marketers to look overseas for new customers and business partners. Companies can’t ignore the massive potential in having a reach that spans continents. The most prominent benefit, of course, is the expansion of one’s market into new geographic areas.

The upside to expanding overseas is clear, but there are also challenges to taking products and advertising campaigns into unknown territories. In most cases, marketers find that the tools they’ve relied upon for years in their domestic markets don’t always work as well in the international marketplace. For example, some campaigns may not work in foreign markets where language, cultural, legal, and regulatory differences come into play.

To help avoid the hurdles associated with international marketing and advertising, here are eight tips when helping clients tackle foreign markets.

Get to know your target audience. Take the time to understand the approach that local consumers favor when engaging with a product or service, from awareness to purchase. Does it feature paid television, home shopping, or regional shipping centers where consumers can pick up their purchases—a common practice in South American markets? These are all important points you’ll need to know.

Don’t neglect mobile. In some countries, mobile shopping is significantly more prevalent than it is in the United States. You can leverage this by ensuring your creative is mobile-ready, and not just an afterthought.

Research pricing and costs. Calculate the right pricing and costs to make it feasible for a consumer to purchase your products. Take into consideration additional fulfillment and shipment charges, and be sure to analyze current rates on a daily basis to ensure proper pricing. Without the right balance, you could wind up losing money.

Put your products in place ahead of time. Products must be available immediately for processing or pick-up. The last thing you want is to have customers wait weeks for their products to be delivered.

Stay vigilant on product knock-offs. Knock-offs tailgating on your product’s success can quickly end up in stores or on TV. Unfortunately, counterfeits and knock-offs are common in international markets. The hotter the product, the better the odds it will be counterfeited. Combat this problem by using unique branding and messaging, copyrights and patents (whenever possible), and regular product “tweaks” that differentiate the legitimate item from the fakes.

Know and understand the regulatory environment. When researching target countries, be sure to identify all regulatory bodies, knowing that many countries have separate oversight bodies for electronics, health and beauty, and medical products. Then, research additional regulations that could impact international efforts. In Australia, for example, the percentage of foreign-produced advertising on air at any given time can’t exceed 20 percent. To overcome this challenge, you would want to investigate the pros and cons of producing ads locally.

Educate yourself on the local fulfillment environment. Labeling requirements vary widely, and an improperly labeled product can trigger punitive fines. In addition, shipping is often regulated. In Brazil, for example, the consumer’s right to choose a delivery date is mandated. Pay attention to these details to avoid fines, delays, and other issues that could impact your international efforts.

Know the metrics. In the United States, all eyes are on the data, metrics, and analytics associated with advertising campaigns. The same holds true overseas, where the most significant metrics to monitor involve initial response—cost per visit, cost per call, and cost per order. These are actionable metrics that can influence media spend and creative messaging.

Online retailers should measure Web response attribution metrics. The metrics can vary across a country, since some have multiple time zones like Australia. Fortunately, most other countries have fewer television channels and, therefore, simpler attribution.

Use these strategies to create a campaign that exposes your quality product or service to a brand new pool of consumers who want and need what you’re selling.

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is chairman and CEO of Hawthorne Direct. She can be reached at (310) 248-3972 or via email at [email protected]