Best International Market Entry Practices for Brands in 2024

Expanding internationally offers numerous benefits such as access to new markets, customers, workforce, and improved reputation.

Image by Porapak Apichodilok

I am a strong advocate of global business, as it presents great opportunities. I am also deeply passionate about seeing brands succeed in overseas markets.

Expanding internationally offers numerous benefits such as access to new markets, customers, workforce, and improved reputation. As Wharton Magazine noted, “…expansion provides diversification and additional revenue, it also exposes one to different methods of doing business.”

Frankly, my experience is that global companies looking at market entry for Asia-Pacific countries like Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, or Vietnam, should recognize the potential upfront investment required to enter a new market. Best practices require a company to invest time and resources in “Discovery” and hire a qualified expert or firm to assist in the local market.


 

It is also common for local entrepreneurs to approach global brands with the hope of securing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to bring a popular brand to their market. However, these entrepreneurs may not currently have the necessary resources and means to operate the brand. They intend to get the MOU, and then pitch the deal to local business partners.

Sadly, we’ve seen over the years even seasoned international companies realize too late that their well-intentioned partnership was less than qualified.  The deal, then, stalled or ended.

Qualifying a local partner can be a challenge, as it requires deeper insights into the local market and identifying key players.

As a benchmark based on recent projects this cost is easily a minimum of US $20,000- $50,000 in international travel and legal fees to secure a partnership. There are, of course, additional costs after an agreement is signed.


 

There are methods to offset these development costs, which include joint ventures and licensing. Also, a best practice is to ensure you are working with a market entry firm that can

  1. Effectively screen for highly qualified potential partners,
  2. Secure high-level meetings with decision-makers and,
  3. The target company has the required capital, resources, and experience to successfully operate the brand.

Going it alone

In contrast, I have seen firms entering overseas markets who prefer to take a different, more reserved approach and go it alone with their internal staffing. Sadly, the success rate for an international firm successfully entering a new overseas market is poor— or more costly than expected, even with the support of highly dedicated government agencies for local market entry.

To elaborate more, some businesses want to focus on finding a solid, committed overseas partner or client with little investment and need to pay upfront fees to engage a local expert in a market entry — all compensation is contingent upon first finding a potential partner. This rarely (code word–never!) works.

More to the point, a highly qualified market entry firm that has a track record of getting results will rarely shoulder the risk of funding the upfront development costs for a client. Instead, an experienced market entry firm will seek out businesses that expect success and are willing to compensate for the services.

Also, although a company going it alone may have websites, products, and company information (often in need of editing), they however lack what is commonly accepted content for meeting presentations with potential partners, including, but not limited to, a detailed localized, savvy Go to Market Plan—often a high content 20+ pages and a competitive market analysis. These expectations are not options.

And finally, for highly recognized U.S. or global brands, there is less of a barrier in setting up meetings because of the strong international desire for a top brand. For less-known brands entering an overseas market, there is considerably more effort. I most often have to rely on my credentials to begin a dialogue with a potential partner vs. the brand itself, which typically is little known outside Korea and East Asia.

All said I am a strong advocate of global business. I see a great opportunity and am passionate about seeing brands succeed overseas. However, as I have shared, this does require an upfront investment in time and resources, as well as securing local expertise. My advice, too, is to follow best practices for market entry.

 

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