Thinking about launching a new product overseas? There are certain factors you should consider before you do. While it can be very lucrative for your company to expand to other markets, it can also be detrimental if you overlook some key considerations. So how do you make the call for your business? These three points can help you decide if your business is ready to launch a new product overseas.
1. Create a marketing strategy. Consider who your ideal client is in the target countries so that you are able to market to them effectively. Where do they hang out? What social media platforms do they use? Don’t assume that Facebook and Twitter are the perfect platforms to reach your ideal client just because they are in the U.S. For example, in China you’ll find that Instagram is more popular than Twitter at almost double the rate. According to social media strategist Vincenzo Cosenza, Japan is the only country where Twitter is the most popular social media platform. And Facebook-owned Instagram is consistently more popular than Facebook itself in several African countries, Iran and Indonesia.
2. Localize your brand and products for a specific country/market. You will almost certainly need to localize your product packaging, advertising, package inserts, assembly instructions and manuals to ensure you successfully reach your target demographic. What works for your domestic market is not guaranteed to have the same effect internationally. You will need to think about the language you use, of course, but this also includes your brand name, images associated with your brand and those used in your ads, as well as colors, marketing and technical communications, etc.
Take the story of IKEA’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad. The Swedes are known for modern home design with simple forms and clean lines. Kamprad drew on his knowledge of the Swedish people and culture, and he intentionally designed furniture that was attractive and affordable. In fact, as many people in Sweden’s larger cities do not own cars, he designed many pieces that could ideally fit under one’s arm and be carried home on a bicycle.
3. Understand safety standards abroad. Check into local product regulations and safety standards where you plan to export. If you want to break into countries within the European Union, for example, you may need to go through a conformity assessment process so that you can attach the CE mark to your product (a mark ensuring customer safety that is required on many products sold in the EU).
Bonus Tip! Pay attention to language variants. It is important to understand that while certain countries may be known to speak certain languages, variants among languages are not to be dismissed. Languages are continuously changing. Chinese in Mainland China— Mandarin with Simplified Chinese as the written form— differs greatly from the Chinese spoken in Hong Kong: Cantonese with Traditional Chinese as the written form. Ignoring variants that affect things like spelling, word and character usage and other fine details could be roadblocks to your brand’s success.
If your business has successfully launched a product in another country, what tips would you share for others looking to do the same?