Updated: Jul 8
Expanding into new geographical markets is a common growth strategy for most successful businesses. Entering a new country or region exposes the brand to an entirely new market, which translates to an opportunity for radical revenue increases. However, it must be done right to avoid becoming a very expensive loss.
When a brand is entering a new market, there are a number of factors that must be considered in order for the rollout to be successful. One of the most important of these factors is marketing. Field marketing, in particular, is an effective marketing channel for addressing many of the challenges that brands face in new markets.
Adapting to Language and Culture
For a lot of brands, the markets with the most opportunities for growth also happen to be markets with a very different lingual and cultural landscape from their native country. Language is a fundamental part of marketing so making sure ideas are conveyed clearly is of paramount importance.
As humans, we tend to trust and find comfort in things that we share characteristics with, and we prefer to buy products and services we trust. Embracing the language of the market you are entering and doing it in a way that feels natural and organic, helps your brand feel more familiar to consumers, and thus earns their trust.
In addition to transcending language barriers, brands also need to embrace and assimilate the local culture. Understanding what the local taboos are and becoming familiar with the colloquialisms of the region can save a brand a lot of embarrassment.
When brands fail to adapt to the languages and cultures of a new market, consumers perceive that as a form of hostility. A disregard or poor understanding of the local language and culture can result in embarrassing mistranslations at the least, or sacrilege and cultural erasure at their worst.
Even in countries which speak the same language, there will still be words that mean very different things. One good example could be an Australian footwear company attempting to expand into South Africa. The word thong in Australia commonly refers to slip on sandals, but in South Africa that word would refer to an undergarment. Underestimating the importance of lingual and cultural assimilation in this instance, could result in a humiliating gaffe for the footwear brand.
If such simple mistakes are likely in countries that share a language, one can only imagine how much worse things could be when there are very different languages involved. Mistakes of that nature are very costly, especially when a brand is still trying to establish a foothold.
Field marketing gives brands a more intimate way of communicating with consumers in new markets. Engaging a local field marketing agency gives brands access to talent that can help the brand become more familiar to the consumers. Local teams have a much deeper understanding of the local language and can build campaigns that accurately represent the brand while making use of the nuances of informal language in a way that only native speakers can achieve. At a strategic and tactical level, field marketing firms can offer brands valuable insights about the local culture, and they will have the requisite expertise to catch unfortunate errors before they get to market.
Field marketers also spend a lot of time on the ground with consumers. As a new product, consumers will naturally have a lot of questions. Consumers will feel reassured when they see the brand represented by familiar faces who speak their language and understand their way of life. Local field marketers are perfectly positioned to explain the benefits of the new product or service, because their lived experiences allow them to contextualize the product or service’s features for consumers.
Understanding Direct and Indirect Local Competition
By the time a business decides to expand into international markets, it has experienced a reasonable degree of success and at least has a decent market share in its own home market. However, whatever market a brand decides to enter, there will always be competition. When businesses fail to recognize all the competitors and strategize accordingly, they inevitably end up wasting precious time and resources on poorly planned marketing.
A brand that is expanding into a new geographical market has to consider what the local competition looks like. Are there any other international brands that have managed to enter the market successfully? How are they positioned? What are the local alternatives to brand-name fast foods?
An American fast-food restaurant looking to establish a foothold in Africa through South Africa would have to consider a number of variables. For instance, which other fast-food brands have entered the South African market? Will their offerings be able to compete with local equivalents to fast food, such as spatlho or pap?
Answering these questions will help the incoming brand understand how to position itself in the new market. Perhaps the new market’s economic circumstances will make it necessary for a brand traditionally viewed as a mass-market commodity in its home country to reposition itself as a luxury experience in the new market.
A field marketing agency with a presence in the country that your brand wants to expand to can offer valuable insight into the local competitive landscape. Not only do they understand the competitive landscape, but they also understand the strategies these competitors have used in the past and how consumers responded.
Entering a new market with a field marketing partner who can help you outmanoeuvre the competition will give your brand a very important advantage.
Staffing and Logistics for Marketing Campaigns
When introducing your products and services to a new country or geographical region, effective marketing is crucial. Missteps in marketing at entry can have long term damage to the brand’s reputation and hurt sales. As such, having the right team to plan and execute marketing campaigns is very important. Working in a new country inherently generates a lot of upfront pressure and carrying out successful marketing campaigns with the same human resources that have to handle internal marketing activities is a huge risk.
Engaging a field marketing agency with a footprint in the country you are entering is invaluable for executing your marketing well. Finding the right individuals for a campaign, assembling a team and managing the team during the campaign are all incredibly difficult tasks, more so when your internal team is completely unfamiliar with the region.
The right field marketing agency will have the capacity, expertise and experience to help your brand roll out a campaign successfully, without straining your internal resources. Their familiarity with the people enables them to quickly staff your campaign with brand ambassadors, field marketing teams and sales representatives so you can hit the ground running.
In addition to staffing field marketing campaigns, a field marketing agency with a presence in the country you are entering will have established relationships with suppliers and vendors. They can reliably source high quality creative material for campaigns, from t-shirts and caps to banners and display stands. In doing so, the field marketing agency eliminates the risk of ordering large quantities of poor-quality marketing materials or engaging a vendor who fails to supply the ordered materials on time.
Entering a new geographical market is an exciting opportunity, but it also carries a lot of risk. The risk involved can be irrecoverable expenses or irreparable damage to your brand. Having the right field marketing partner in the region you are entering can offset most of that risk and ensure your entry is as smooth as possible. Engaging a field marketing agency with a local presence allows you to harness their expertise and experience for marketing success.
Samplex Africa has a presence across Africa and experience in helping international brands launch products in new markets. If you would like to leverage our capabilities for your marketing efforts, get in touch with us today. We would love to talk about giving your brand the best possible start in a new market.