Understand consumer behavior
This idea plays to understanding the culture of your target market. For instance, doing business in China is much more long term and relationship based than the straightforward American business style. Making sure that you send the same level executive to negotiate with the Chinese is crucial. Not only that, but understand consumer buying behavior will help you succeed in your advertising and inventory management. Continuing with an expansion into China, many of the consumers are simply focused on form and function with a low price rather than brand name.
Position yourself properly
Understanding a foreign culture can be extremely difficult. Once you understand what is considered respectful and what is not, making sure that your brand aligns with those cultural norms and values is key to your success. The top global brands are ones who stick to their brand image while accepting some degree of local responsiveness. For example, McDonald’s and Coca Cola. Both brands use the same logo, the same promotions, and the same advertising and style across their different markets but they both are locally responsive to some degree. McDonald’s changes its products to local flavors and tastes. Coca Cola is a little different. For instance, when they entered India, they acquired a similar brand called “Thumbs Up!” that is extremely successful to this day.
Know how your brand translates
Language is a huge part of our communication. Sure, you can display your brand properly through images and products, but to be truly successful, you must understand the target market’s language. Many companies have missed the mark on this step in a huge way. In China, Pepsi expanded with the slogan “Pepsi brings you back to life,” but didn’t realize that it translated to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” Another huge faux pas in the Soft Drink Industry was when Coca Cola was expanding to the Middle East, they had three pictures from left to right. The first was of an exhausted man in the desert, the second of a man drinking Coke, the third picture was of the man completely refreshed and energized. What Coca Cola failed to realize is that Arabic is read from right to left.
Find good business partners
Finding a strong local partner can be instrumental to your success when expanding into a foreign country. Their knowledge of the country’s culture, consumer behavior, and supply chain is extremely valuable to your brand. By partnering with a company that shares your same vision and goals, your company can be extremely successful is very little time.