If your tech startup has had great success domestically, you may be eyeing international markets as the next step in your growth process. However, when you contemplate reaching a global audience with your product, there are some factors you must consider to make going global truly advantageous.
Factor Number One: Timing
Before embarking on any business expansion, the first thing you must do is carefully examine your current situation and your desired situation. For instance, if your domestic operations leave significant room for improvement, you may want to consider getting your business processes in order at home before going global.
If, on the other hand, your domestic revenues are in line with your expectations and your business processes are streamlined and efficient, it may be a good time to consider international expansion.
Traveling to exotic lands, tasting authentic cuisine from other parts of the world, viewing how other cultures live; all a brief representation of what tourism represents and what tourists say they want to experience when traveling abroad. The interesting contradiction however, is that tourists want to experience the local culture while retaining westernized amenities. Glocalization represents a blend of globalization and localization and tourist towns that have blossomed discovered this bridge is key to success. A tourist seeks the exotics in India but travels on tour buses with others like themselves and stay in five-star hotels that offer, internet, buffet, bottled water, pool, spa etc.
International tourism has become one of the most significant beneficiaries and vehicles of globalization in the last few decades. Presentation, perception and interpretation of local cultures is an intrinsic part of international tourism and provides a direct link between western and non-western cultures. While some may argue that globalization destroys the inherent culture localization aims to protect; the two when combined are creating an opportunity for tourism to transform local culture into cultural capital while retaining cultural heritage.
You’ve done it! You’ve achieved nationwide success, and now your company is ready for the next step: going global. You’re expanding into a number of foreign markets in countries all over the world. Now the question is: how do you package your product to sell in those countries? How do you make sure your brand stands out and remains uniquely identifiable with your company while still communicating the pertinent information of your product to the consumer in their own language? Here are a few tips for retail packaging when going global:
The most popular brands are all readily identifiable, not by their name, but by their logo. The Nike swish. The Pepsi ball. Microsoft’s flag of colored squares. No matter what country you’re in, and what language you speak, if you see those logos, you know exactly what company they represent.
Your brand may not be as prominent or recognizable as Nike or Microsoft, but making your packaging as visual as possible is an important step toward establishing your brand globally. Keep it simple, as well. If you clutter the label with a lot of dense text and information, it will distract from the overall message of your brand. Choose a couple of important facts or messages to include (briefly) on the front of the package (“Low fat!” “50% larger!” etc.), and save the rest of the pertinent information for the label on the back.
You can play around with colors as well, using a certain color or color combination to help communicate your brand instantly. Coca-Cola is red and white. Kodak is yellow. If you can come up with a very specific color scheme and make it your own, you’ll be well on your way to establishing your brand and packaging globally.
It seems like translating product packaging for export to a different country would be a fairly straightforward process. There might be issues of branding to contend with, but once you’ve got that figured out, the rest is just words on a page (or package), right? Not quite. There are a number of compliance issues you need to be aware of depending on what country you are exporting to, and your type of product. These special regulations are often overlooked by retailers, and can result in a lot of extra fees and costs if not followed properly. Here are a few special translation requirements to be aware of:
Special Requirements for Countries
Different countries have different requirements for labeling and translation, including a few you might not expect. Canada, for instance, requires certain information to be listed in both English and French. And if you’re selling your products in Quebec, the regulations are even stricter for bilingual labeling.
Mexico requires all labels on all packaging to be provided in Spanish. This isn’t too surprising, but it’s something your company may accidentally overlook when exporting across the border. And another often overlooked requirement: all labels and packaging in both Mexico and Canada must use the Metric system in their measurements. Do you export a product whose weight is listed in pounds and ounces? Be sure to translate it to grams and kilograms before sending it across either border.
If you’re selling food, it’s very important to properly label all ingredients, nutritional information, etc. What does that entail? Well, it depends on what market you’re selling in. At the end of last year, the European Union enacted strict legislation regarding how food is labeled. This means that when exporting food products to be sold in Europe, you need to make sure they comply with those regulations. It also means that all of these new labels need to be properly translated.
Nutritional Information Requirements
Previously, providing specific nutritional values for foods was completely voluntary in Europe. Some companies added it for customer convenience, whereas others simply labeled foods as healthy or unhealthy, using the symbol of red and green traffic lights. And plenty of food products had no nutritional labels at all.
However, as of December 2014, the EU requires that a variety of nutritional facts, including fat and salt content, carbohydrates, and more, be displayed on all pre-packaged foods in order to keep consumers better informed and combat rising obesity levels.
Social media and content marketing are two important channels that have reinvented the way brands think about international marketing. Thanks to the rise of social and content marketing, businesses can now easily interact with prospects all over the world.
The development of the social platform has been an overwhelmingly positive one for companies looking to take their brand global, but it has also created a lot of competition. Here are some points to keep in mind for brands and agencies that are looking to use social media to successfully connect to customers around the world.
Pay attention to cultural sensitivities in your global content
Social media is a place where communication is usually informal: people use a lot of slang, expressions, and abbreviations to interact with each other. The amount of this informal communication you choose to engage in will depend on your brand's culture and specific goals for social media, but remember that even if you don't plan on using it, other people will: your social media content will always be viewed through this lens.
A good example of how not understanding slang can go very wrong for globalizing brands is Puffs, a line of facial tissues produced by Procter & Gamble. Upon entering the German market, Puffs quite embarrassingly learned that in Germany, the word "puff" is a slang term for a “house of ill repute”.
Properly reuse videos and graphic content
Where most of your written marketing materials will need full translation when you take your brand international, you might be able to use some of the existing graphics and videos currently used in your home market with only minor adjustments. For video content, you might consider using subtitles as a relatively low-cost way to adapt your marketing materials to social media.
The idea of international marketing brings about some tremendous challenges for agencies that serve global brands. Finding a way to connect a product or service with an international market is complex enough, but it can also be a challenge to manage the process of international marketing.
These challenges are issues that global agencies frequently face. Luckily, there are ways these obstacles can be overcome to help a brand successfully reach more people in more places.
Managing expectations between international sales offices and marketing teams
One of the biggest issues global communications agencies face is sorting out ownership of localization tasks. For example, say your business has decided to expand into France. You may have a good amount of marketing content that is written in English, but someone needs to translate it. Does your French sales office handle the translation? Or would you be better off engaging with a professional agency to help with the translation? Either way, who will manage the project?
This is a common international marketing challenge for agencies. To overcome this ownership problem, be sure to start with an open dialogue between all stakeholders in your organization, and together develop a well-mapped process for how you will handle the localization of marketing content and other types of collateral.
Understanding regulatory commerce laws
Companies that want to market their products or services internationally must have a robust understanding of the laws that affect trade in different countries. In some cases, this understanding is not easy to come by.
Companies that are looking to succeed in the new age of international marketing must be sure they are paying attention to how communications are changing. There are several factors that are having a huge impact on today's international marketers.
The Social Media Boom
In a relatively short amount of time, social media has exploded as a dominant communication channel in human culture. At the end of 2009, Facebook had 360 million monthly active users. Over the next four years, Facebook's user base more than tripled. The popular social media network reached 1.2 billion active users per month in 2013.
Social media has become one of the world's major international marketing trends because it has allowed brands to reach people in almost any location. Users can instantly connect to a brand that is on the other side of the world. Many major brands have leveraged this connectivity as a way to market to people in other parts of the world.
The luxury fashion brand Burberry, for example, had a relatively insignificant presence in China as recently as 2010. By launching a social media presence on Sina Weibo, one of China's top social networks, and continuously interacting with customers and exposing them to their brand, Burberry was able to become the number one selling fashion brand on several of China's top retail e-Commerce websites.