People are different. Countries are different. European business practices are different, as are the products they use. To me, different is good. Why? While some products can face domestic decline, many find renewed life crossing the ocean – either going there or coming here! And it’s not as hard as you might think because digital transformation and logistics improvements have brought foreign markets much closer. Getting them into effective distribution channels and purchased by end-users is another story, and why local knowledge of that last mile is so important.
So how can companies prepare for a successful trip across the pond?
- Correctly engage the category. Not all products have the same value to a new target. Make sure you launch with the right product assortment, proper pricing, and promotional incentive plan. As your products and brand grows, then expand your offering to other products.
- Develop a strong distribution platform. Some have never marketed to EU before, while others have a logistics partner but may not be utilizing it well. Cross-border tax ramifications, product regulations, packaging requirements are difficult to manage in familiar regions. Try doing it in multiple languages under different legal regimes!
- Proper salesforce engagement and support. Appropriate CRM, campaign management, and program execution make all the difference in the US. The same holds for Europe, but how they do it can be very different.
These complexities cause many to avoid the trip. Others seek our help. We need to understand your business and growth agenda to effectively launch the right products, in the right sequence, with the right partners. We need to understand your flexibility to adjust to EU’s nuances, some of which may appear frustrating to you but are familiar to us. We need to understand your willingness to focus. Most importantly, are you willing to trust our expertise and guidance. If so, international opportunity abounds.
While newer versions of the old products often face tepid responses here, these can be wildly exciting in Europe. There is a hunger for what’s truly new and opportunity exists because common and unsexy in one market can be a game-changer in another. Unless you know the difference, and how to manage the complexity of a foreign market, containers of unwanted inventory may be the end result.