How to Position Your Product for Success in Global Markets: 3 Key Considerations

By Madison Taylor
December 12, 2023
A gray credit card laying on a white surface with shadows falling across

The lines that once separated countries from doing business with each other have become increasingly porous over time, resulting in deeper connections between international economies. You cannot take these issues lightly in any business, and the ability to start selling internationally represents incredible opportunities. However, you can’t simply Google “how to sell internationally” and expect to achieve success. Selling products overseas requires deep thought, extensive planning, and a robust understanding of international selling.

We look at three key considerations you have to keep in mind when it comes to how to sell products internationally. 

Understanding the Cultural Differences

Entering a new market and selling products overseas isn’t just a manner of opening a new office and starting to sell products. Instead, you must develop a robust understanding of the cultural differences between your home and your proposed market. Understanding these cultural differences can take on many forms.

Speak the Same Language

Make sure you are capable of overcoming any language barrier and using professionals to translate marketing collateral. This doesn’t mean using Google Translate and slapping together a marketing ad. Instead, you’ll need to rely on professionals with years of experience.

Talk Like a Local

Make sure you fully understand local taboos, slang, and more. What is acceptable in North America may be wildly inappropriate in Asia, and you can see these differences in many different and minor ways. For example, imagine a North American ad in which two people are standing in a home, wearing their shoes. Doing so would be extremely strange in many places in Japan. There are countless examples of these types of cultural misunderstandings potentially damaging the impact of your advertisements, and this helps explain why it is so essential for you to develop local contacts.

Understand Consumer Perceptions

Before leaning into a marketing campaign, determine how customers would receive a price discount. In some cultures, discounts are common, but in others, they may imply a lower quality of goods. This perception can change from location to location, so it is critically important that you understand the kind of impact any discount you make may have on the perception of your quality. 

Examine the Competition

If you are entering a foreign market, you can only do so by first checking out who you are up against. The competition you may be facing in a foreign country can tell you many things, including:

  • If the market has reached a saturation point for your good or service — or if it is ready.
  • If there is any competition that actually has an advantage you cannot compete with, such as extensive government support.
  • What sort of marketing works and what doesn’t?
  • What connections you may need to make, and what connections may simply be impossible to overcome?
  • A better understanding of the demographics of your potential customers and the best ways to connect with them.

A thorough SWOT analysis of the competition can prevent you from years of pain and wrongly investing millions of dollars that may be better spent elsewhere. 

Invest in Localized Marketing

It doesn’t matter if you are entering a new foreign or domestic market; you have to adapt your marketing to the market itself by investing in a comprehensive localization strategy.

Get to Know Your Customers and Their Culture

You have to understand who your customer is, where they shop, and what the best ways to connect with them are. In many cases, you may find that your customers exist in many places or have different customers you can appeal to differently. If so, you can segment your audience and develop different ways to connect with them.

Localized marketing also requires a thorough understanding of the culture and morals of a foreign market. This reality helps to emphasize an earlier point: You need to make sure you develop local contacts that can help you create culturally competent marketing materials that avoid any miscommunications.

Pick Your Marketing Medium

When it comes to localized markets, the medium of advertisement truly matters. Different countries have different levels of digital penetration, mobile device use, social networking connectivity, television consumption, and more. In other words, a successful localization strategy requires you to understand where your customers are and what mediums are the best way to connect with them. 

Plan for the Future

Any localization strategy you develop should have an eye on the future. You will want to understand not only who in a local market is your current customer but also who will be your customer in the future. This means knowing what markets you want to expand into and where those customers may be. You’ll also want to understand when you may hit that “tipping point” that indicates you should begin these expansion efforts. 

Final Thoughts

Expanding into international markets is a complex journey, but keeping these key factors in mind will help you succeed:

  1. Cultural awareness is critical, covering language, local customs, and discount perceptions.
  2. Thorough competition analysis is essential to gauge market readiness and identify advantages or challenges in marketing. Investing in localized marketing, understanding customers, and selecting appropriate advertising channels is vital.
  3. Plan for future expansion by targeting markets and timing effectively.

A well-crafted marketing strategy is your key to international success.