There was a time when the international market was reserved for huge brands. Small niche brands would tend to succeed and stay within their national markets, while industry giants (usually either from the luxury or the fast-fashion spheres) dominated and monopolized the global market.
But… This is not the case anymore. Thanks to globalization and the internet era, brands have access to audiences outside of their national reach. Now, the entire globe is an opportunity, right there, ripe for the taking.
Question is: How can one grow their brand abroad?
First and foremost… RESEARCH
Obvious wouldn’t you say? And yet some brands venture into the foreign lands of abroad markets without proper research, only to crash and burn, wondering what they did wrong. Not researching properly or enough, that’s what they did wrong.
Is there a market for your product?
You need to know which markets are suitable for your products and which aren’t before investing abroad. Is there a demand for your product in that country? Are there any competitors already? What does the landscape look like? If there are existing competitors, you should be mindful of whether there is a need for your product or not. Look into what can set you apart, what can you offer that others cannot? What is your value proposition?
It is imperative that you get acquainted with consumer behaviour in the market you wish you penetrate. While globalisation has no doubt homogenized certain customer behaviours worldwide, there are still notable differences in what the sales funnel looks like for different audiences. From cultural trends to social structures, there are many factors that cause a disparity between the needs and desires of a potential customer throughout the different markets. Make sure you are aware of these differences and factors. Learn how they influence purchasing decisions and use that knowledge to amplify the success of your brand’s market penetration.
Budget your budget
Unless you are already a pretty big brand, chances are that you’ll be working with a tight budget. Hefty, detailed research will make sure that you optimize every cent that goes towards market penetration. Use the data you collect to create an airtight strategy that prioritizes the impact of an action. It is better to do one thing, and execute it perfectly and effectively than to do a million different actions that might seem cheaper yet end up yielding minimal results.
It’s all about marketing, it always is
Marketing is probably the most essential component of growing your brand abroad. Of course, you need a great product, but people need to know that it exists in the first place, and they need to know that it’s great. Brand awareness plays a key role in this, particularly nowadays as society leans toward putting its money where its mouth is. It is no longer enough to have a quality, pretty product, your brand must be authentic, and have a unique, engaging story that can captivate audiences and make them want to be a part of it. It is imperative that you gain access to your target audience, and there are undoubtedly many ways to do so, however, as a creative agency we have found some of the most powerful resources to be…
When done correctly, influencer seeding is one of the most effective marketing strategies to enter a new market. Now, this could be achieved by either gifting influencers your products so that they will advertise them or use them in their content, or you can also enter a contract with an influencer for a campaign.
So, find the influencers that fit your vision, those who visibly represent your values and visuals and, most importantly, those who have the right audience for you. In the fashion industry nowadays, having the correct influencers as part of your brand awareness campaign can become one of your most powerful assets, and with time, earn you a loyal audience whose needs align with your demand.
Product placements in outlets and magazines are also a great way to place your product in new markets, particularly if you have your eyes set on the retail industry. However, at the end of the day, this is all part of having an effective PR operation.
You need a powerful, engaging brand story that must come across in an impactful press kit. This includes compelling copywriting that mirrors your unique tone of voice as a brand, and distinctive, potent visuals that will instantly set you apart from your competitors. Still, even after crafting the perfect press kit, you will need to send it to the right platforms, otherwise, your efforts might be in vain.
If you want to be part of the fashion scene in markets abroad, you should actually be involved in the fashion scene in markets abroad. Attending events and networking is Fashion Industry 101. Either participating in fashion events, sponsoring or having branded content in events that fit your audience that your potential customers are likely to attend will gain you a sizeable amount of brand awareness.
Distribution is key: Find yourself a local distributor/retailer
Although it is true that in this day and age you do not need to be specifically present in a city or country in order to sell your product there thanks to the wonders of the internet, ecommerce, and postage services, it helps. Sometimes immensely.
To be completely honest, this step is optional. Many brands survive without local distributors. However, it can make a huge difference when it comes to winning over a foreign market, and if you’re ticking all the boxes and still not managing to grow your brand abroad, this might be just what you need.
Having a local retailer backing you up translates into having a solid base to grow from. For starters, it uplifts brand awareness abroad. Simply put, audiences will at the very least know that you exist if they see your products in the shops. They are much more likely to purchase a product in a shop whose selection they trust, meaning you’ll have a head start. Plus, you can begin to position yourself as an option along with your competitor in the consumer’s mind. Still, it’s not always easy to get your foot in the door, and you’ll need to make a good case for yourself in a sales pitch in order to convince local retailers of why they should carry your product.
In this sense, this would be part of your marketing strategy too, and it would also be part of your initial in-depth research into the market. Whichever local retailers you work with must, very much like with influencers, align with your values, visuals, and identity as a brand as well as have access to your target audience. Otherwise, this could completely backfire and turn into a fruitless investment.
Swift and seamless shipping and return policies
Part of the advantage of having a local distributor is that it can make purchasing and shipping logistics more seamless because shipping times shorten and return procedures tend to be simpler. Being able to easily return a garment is, by today’s standards, one of the most important aspects for consumers when deciding on whether or not to purchase from a fashion brand.
So it should go without saying, but of course, one of the most important factors to keep in mind if you wish to expand your business abroad is… Shipping. In this day and age, the consumer exceedingly values shipping costs being either low or included in the price, as well as the possibility to return a product without too much hassle. Investigating the shipping infrastructures and services in the country you plan to expand to and adjusting your operations and prices accordingly will make for better odds in your attempt to penetrate its market.
Last but not least, find a partner that can help
The whole notion of venturing into a foreign market is daunting, and sometimes the littlest of things can mark the difference between success and failure. Nuances that, as an outsider, you might not perceive. For this reason, it’s often best to find a local partner that can guide you. Someone who knows the market inside out, someone who can guide you towards success.
Here at TNC we pride ourselves on our expert knowledge of the European market and have helped numerous clients with their PR and marketing strategies. So don’t be shy and let us know how we can help you.