Want to export your vegan products or services but don’t know where to start? Then keep reading! 😉 Good preparation is absolutely key when expanding abroad. In this blog, we will give you some tips so you can successfully prepare your export strategy.
1. First things first: Analyse your export capacity:
Launching a product or service that you can’t supply in sufficient quantity will create frustration and could be counter-productive, in that it will leave customers with a negative opinion of your brand. You therefore need to have a clear idea of what you can supply and where your limits are. This will help you choose your market and your offering abroad.
You need to analyse your production capacity, raw material sourcing and availability as well as your time and resources (both financial and manpower).
You also need to clarify what budget will be allocated to your expansion abroad and which staff will be working on that project. Knowing your staff and financial resources will also help you choose the type of commercial presence most appropriate to you.
Depending on the outcomes of this internal analysis, you might choose to export into one new country at a time or into several. If your resources are limited, we would advise you to consolidate your position one market at a time rather than spread yourself too thinly.
2. Grasp a good understanding of the market:
Analysing your position in the market was key when you started your company. You had to know your customers, your competitors and your distribution channels. The same analysis is required of new markets. This will help you to meet your future customers‘ needs and therefore be successful.
You now have to do the same thing again with your target countries. If you already have countries in mind (where you think your products will be successful), then this stage will confirm (or not) whether what you’re offering is suited to that market. If you have no idea about where to expand, consider looking into countries with a culture similar to your own or hire a consultant to look into opportunities for your brand.
When conducting this market research, look up relevant information about the country including its demographic, legislation and cultural habits. Then find information about similar products, your target customers, the distribution channels, the market price and promotion strategy.
3. Look thoroughly into the different options available to you:
Based on your situation (internal analysis of your resources – see point 1) and on your knowledge of the local market and habits (external environment – see point 2), you can now look into the different export options that are available to you.
First, you have to choose whether you want an industrial presence (where in addition to selling, you also produce in your target market) or a commercial presence (exporting your products to the target market).
Then, look into the different options available, some of them are:
- selling through a distributor or an agent
- opening a branch in your target country
- selling on a direct basis
- having franchisees
In making your decision, consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option.
4. Have a solid strategy and a clear vision:
Once you’ve chosen where to export and how to do it, you need to start planning and refining your expansion vision.
One idea might be to launch with specific products rather than everything you sell in your domestic market. Your domestic best-seller might not be the strategic choice for the new country. First impressions are everything, so choose the product(s) that will give you the best chance of success in your target country.
As part of your strategy, you might also have to change your packaging, marketing and USP (unique selling point) highlighted in your promotion. If we take the example of cosmetics, some markets will be impressed with the efficacy of your products, whereas others will be pleased by your organic certificate or social commitment to using fair trade ingredients.
Make sure you have a clear vision on how best to attract your target audience.
5. Choose the right partners :
If you choose any other options but direct sales, you will need to create partnerships. You need to choose your business partners carefully and make sure that your vision for the future is compatible. Compatible in terms of core values, product evolution, communications and promotions you will put in place, etc.
Think about these partners as an extension of your workforce. During this selection process, you need to have a clear idea of what you want and don’t want in a partner; an idea of your must-haves, nice to have and cannot-have criteria.
Remember that even if you sell directly B2B or B2C without any partners, you will probably still need, or at least benefit from, consultants helping you with market research, translation, promotion and more along the way.
6. Get the buzz going:
When you’re finally about to launch, align your PR and communication campaign with your budget (or lack of it!). You can also work on social media engagement with your new audience or attend local trade shows for promotion purposes.
If you are working with efficient distribution channels, you may not need to take care of communication and PR by yourself. Your partners should be the first to communicate about your newly available products or services.
However, talking to your new audience in their language, without going through your partner, has great long-term benefits. It’s a way to create connections with your customers. Later on, if you have to change partner or sales strategy, the connection you have built with your customers will facilitate this transition. It will guarantee that your company is not too affected by this change.
7. Keep an eye on the market:
So now you’re in the market and your sales are skyrocketing, don’t rest on your laurels: take time to cement your position and monitor your market.
Make sure you are aware of new trends, legislations, direct and indirect competitors as well as their promotion strategies. It’s also important to communicate with your customers in the local language and on local platforms. In China for example, you might want to use Weibo or Renren.
Your local partners will also be crucial during this monitoring stage, as they will be a source of valuable information about their markets. So make sure to keep close contacts with these partners whether they be retailers, wholesalers or consultants. This stage is key to be truly successful in the long run.
8. Don’t let fear hold you back:
Though exporting is a big move that may be daunting, it’s an adventure that will strengthen your business. It will be beneficial to your company’s future and to your domestic market, so go for it!