Fresh Data Blog
Fresh Data Archive
Going Global: The Master Checklist
Date: August, 2014 --
your eCommerce site been receiving orders from South Africa and China? Are visitors
from Latin America showing up on your referral tracking reports? Did your call
center recently suggest you hire a service company with multi-lingual operators
from 15 countries?
answered ‘Yes’ to one or more of these questions, you are seeing proof of the
thesis of Thomas Friedman’s best-selling book, The World is Flat...A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century,
which posits the global integration of economies through the Internet. And,
depending on your business, you might be part of the “long tail” of businesses
in unique niches who would remain local and globally invisible without the
online medium. This world was posited by Chris Anderson in The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More.
time to think again about “going global”. Perhaps you even have a few countries
or regions in sight based on some recent experience. There has never been an
easier time to take the global route, but it can be an infuriating, frustrating
and even dangerous experience without a tried and true checklist, and possibly
even a Sherpa or two.
caveat that every company and every industry will have a different “expanded”
checklist, here is a “generic” basic list which you can modify and enhance to
cover your company’s needs:
for Cost of Research
overseas market research can be an expensive and time-consuming business. Travel
expenses, translation and interpretation services, communications to “home
base”, local consultants and advisors, legal, accounting and tax advice at home
and abroad. Even online research by management and staff will have an
associated time cost.
the size of your company and the number of products you sell, you should
consider establishing a department within the company to undertake this
research. With time, it can become a center of expertise and knowledge about
foreign markets and the company’s experiences in them.
on Individual Countries
business characteristics, behaviors, customs and habits all vary by country and
internal populations. For example, there is no “European Market” (or “Asian
Market”) for consumer goods as far as marketers should be concerned. In Europe
there are 28 countries with different languages, customs, habits, diets,
educational systems, economic development, religions……whew!
of a long list would start with determining what the real size of your target
market is within the country. Remember there are “early adopters”,
“experimenters” and “adventurers” everywhere and the unsought foreign orders on
your website from a country may be from that “demographic”. If you sell into a
specific niche or demographic, how big is it in a given country? Is the
disposable income available to purchase your products/services? E.g., if your
products are mostly consumed by single women 25 to 40 who have full-time jobs,
how many of those are there in your selected market?
Examine country populations, age demographics
(i.e., is it a “young” country (Philippines) or “old” (Japan)), average wages,
wealth distribution, rural/urban split, communications and delivery
infrastructure and presence of a population (people or companies) that resembles
your current, or at the very least a viable, customer base. Building a plan to
move quickly into Portugal based on a few eCommerce sales might be a waste of
energy if market characteristics indicate your product won't have an
Who is there
and how are they doing? If they are successful, how did they get that way? Is
there room in the market for you or has a big player already reached scale in
the market? Have you got a unique selling proposition and will it work in that
market? Will you need vendors who are captive to the competition? In some
countries, TV ad space may not be available to you if the competition has
market clout. Who owns that competition? If it is the government, or a relative
of a senior official, in some countries that would render your entering the
market a very, very difficult proposition.
Product or Service
product/service offering really suitable to the market? Selling long-johns in
Sierra Leone is a non-starter. Are there product safety or health regulations
or standards applicable to your products? For example, there are widely
different electrical plug standards for appliances throughout the erstwhile
“single market” of Europe.
market have what you need to produce or sell or will you have to import what
you need? What will be the taxes, duties and/or tariffs on those imports? Will
transportation from port to facility be adequate and reasonably priced?
countries are notoriously hard to import into. This can be an intentional
government policy to protect local producers, or it can be the unintended
result of culture or bureaucratic overload. Brazil is an example of the latter,
and it is only slightly less difficult to export than to import.
What will the
local market bear in terms of your sales prices? Is it rich enough to afford
you? Will you manufacture there or import, and what are the taxes and duties
for both strategies? If leaning toward the local manufacturing route, are the
skills you need available in the market?
See point 6.
will be required of the local workforce in order to produce your product or
replicate your service model? What are the salary, benefits and social payment
expectations for each position? Are those skills available in the country? If
the skills have to be imported, from where and at what price will it come and
will visas be difficult/expensive to acquire? How difficult is it to reduce
headcount if necessary or to discharge poor performers? In some countries it is
sometimes prohibitively expensive to fire an employee. In others, labor is
unionized and extremely militant, thus reducing management’s freedom of action
in many ways.
If you have
patents or copyrights, you’ll want to be sure to confirm they will be
enforceable in your new market, or that you can at least file to protect these
assets at a reasonable cost. Also, names and logos and other intellectual
property should be examined by local professionals to assure they are
protectable and not offensive or unsettling. One famous family magazine which
entered the Polish market almost titled its local version using a word whose
current popular meaning was “abortion”, a move that would not be wise in any
country let alone this devout Roman Catholic one.
How do you
usually sell? Retail? Direct? Person-to-person? You’ll need to examine whether
the market has the tools you’ll need and the people with the skills to use
them. For example, in most countries in Africa, direct marketing lists for any
media are practically non-existent, as are the skills to create and nurture
the U.S. Department of Commerce office near you, or in Washington. They have a
department dedicated to helping US companies do business and invest
internationally. They also have trained personnel in the embassies abroad, so
call ahead for an appointment before you make your first study trip.
contact the embassies in the US of your target countries. Many of them have
programs designed to help foreign companies invest in their countries.
of course… Ask Data Services, Inc.
This is only
the beginning of the work leading up to what could be the most exciting thing
your company ever does. It can be frustrating work, but if done in a
disciplined manner it is potentially very rewarding. As you proceed, be sure to
discuss with Data Services, Inc. how they may be able to assist you through
their network of contacts among foreign data sources and among US companies who
are active abroad. And, of course, don’t dismiss the possibility of test marketing
with direct mail and email using legal mailing lists from responsible brokers. Work
with Data Services, Inc. and be sure your global databases are in perfect
working order for your next international campaign.