We’re living in an increasingly global world where your audience can grow in geographies across the world. As your audience forms, you may be thinking about more ways to get your products in front of your customer and how to initiate the process of selling in a new market.
Whether you’re using wholesale, direct-to-consumer ecommerce, marketplaces, or pop up shops, these tips will help you successfully enter a new market:
Not every market is right for you. Before you decide if you MUST BE in a new market, spend time researching it by visiting stores, analyzing a competitors' stockists, and chatting with sales associates on the ground to learn more about the local consumer.
Lawyers can be expensive and cumbersome (no offense!) but you want to make sure you brand is protected in the new market and that you have your bases covered when it comes to rules and regulations regarding the product you are selling. Some countries have different requirements in this area so it’s important to make sure you are good to go!
In many cultures, people want to be friends first before doing business. Make sure you clear up your calendar to attend networking and social events to begin building contacts. Explore professional clubs, meetups, and network through your social groups. Be bold and ask people out for a drink or dinner. In the end, these people may also lead to new and exciting connections.
Culturally there are many differences in doing business and interacting socially across the world. As with anywhere, making an attempt to speak the local language can get you far. Native-speaking friends can also help provide you with initial cues and translation services to make outreach less of a pain.
Different cultures have different norms around hierarchy and decision making style. For example, in the US people tend to be fast to make decisions and have a relatively flat structure while hierarchy plays a big role in Japanese companies. It is worth considering this in your approach and keep in mind that everyone reports to someone, understand that any buyer has to justify their decision to their boss (or themselves!). Your job is to equip them with the best argument about why your brand or business is going to be a success.
Consider approaching the organizations that are set up to help businesses expand overseas. Most countries and even cities have government or not-for-profit establishments like Council for Fashion Designers of America, Made in France, The British Embassy for Fashion and local organizations such as UKFT/UKTI (in the UK) that can give advice on pre-market entry. There are also great global and cause-based organizations like Fashion Revolution (who has a great global list of these here). Not sure where to start, speak to local brands to get a sense of the environment and resources.
On a final note, with any new territory, figure out why that market speaks to your brand and why your brand speaks to the market. Spend time exploring the galleries, museums and art. Don’t forget to stop and look around, notice what is different. You and your brand will be sure to grow because of it!
These are only some of the initial steps to entering a new market but the more you invest in these, the bigger payoff your future investments will have.
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