International Business Expansion: Market Intelligence is Key

Two business professionals connect over a prospect, world map in the backdrop

Your home market experience and success are helpful keys for expanding into the international business market, if you make the choice to translate your value to your clients’ home market needs. Enterprise tech companies that are established in their home market and are now looking to enter the U.S., U.K., or another foreign market, can benefit from avoiding the missteps that other companies took; chief among them being the assumption that they can repeat home market advantage without adaptation  in foreign markets. The key to successful replication is market intelligence employed correctly and comprehensively to develop international expansion strategies.

This article is the second in a series on mistakes that can derail an international market entry, and the core lessons learned from these critical missteps. Clients trust Kettering International for the truth behind market expansion strategy. We believe and invest in our clients’ success because it is good business. In sharing real-world examples, we highlight where tech firms can benefit from exploring what problems could occur if an organisation fails to develop their market intelligence before expanding internationally.

What is Market Intelligence?

Viable market expansion is achieved through acumen and experience. Executing international market expansion requires a calibration of strategy in tandem with your goal to meet the necessary numbers target. This unique combination for your business comes through market intelligence — evidence base for sales, competitor research, and client surveys can validate (or invalidate) the legitimacy of a roll out and where there is a need for revamping an approach for maximum outcome.

Even with a unique and sophisticated product or service and a solid brand strategy, companies can fail to expand internationally simply because they don’t understand the intricacies of their target market. Market intelligence is a necessity for international expansion.

Localisation is Key In International Business Expansion

Market intelligence is also a core component to understanding localisation. In a global market, opportunities are not plug-and-play. Just as home clients have nuanced preferences, so too do clients abroad. For this very reason, it is imperative to extensively investigate your messaging and be ready to advocate for how your value aligns with your potential client’s needs. Assuming a translatable value has caused even some of the most established corporations to have to halt their rollouts.

After messaging is conceptualized, it needs to be localised. Effective localisation translates your value messaging so your new clients will understand the differential your tech firm provides. At Kettering International, we recognise the importance of setting the right expectations for entry into the vast U.S. market, where the sheer expansiveness of opportunity makes it difficult to orient and leverage your market intelligence without on-the-ground expert guidance.  

Localisation involves a multi-step process to consider the geographical, socioeconomic, and cultural realities of the region that will best match your specific value and scope of service.  Considering these key components in localisation, deciding where to land in an expansive market and how to speak to that market can either be your strategic advantage or your downfall. It depends upon your approach. What will work in New York for marketing messaging will not land the same in Tennessee. Market intelligence is a necessary consideration. Let’s look at how this plays out in real-life examples. 

Specificity in International Expansion Strategies = Real World Success

Market intelligence includes investigating what has not worked. Many companies are surprised to learn of launch failures, but the missteps of others can inspire taking a more inquisitive eye toward your own strategies. 

Consider, for example, Target’s market expansion into Canada. Krystal Steinmetz wrote for Yahoo Finance that just “shy of two years of opening, Target closed 133 stores,” sustaining multi-million dollar months of losses. What happened? It’s a case study in localisation.

The store-fronts Target bought for a low cost were second-rate locations, formerly discount retail stores. Shoppers often visited under-stocked stores with higher-than average prices due to an unreliable supply chain. Slate magazine called it an “unmitigated disaster” of a large company doing too much too soon. Canadian potential customers even commented that they enjoyed the Target experience in America, but it did not compare to what was offered in Canada. 

Similarly, Home Depot flopped in China in 2016 with its DIY rollout. Why? Because in the U.S. DIY is seen as a sign of ingenuity, but in China it is seen as a sign of poverty. 

Oversights in market intelligence can have significant consequences for firms of all sizes, and in all sectors. Recently a medical technology firm that distributes wheelchairs to disabled persons in Australia attempted to integrate their business model as-is to the U.S. healthcare system. This proved extremely difficult because the company did not have a firm grasp on how U.S. healthcare works and differs from state to state. The fine print was enough to upend their success — but due diligence on localisation with a firm that understands the U.S. market could have brought that necessary state-to-state differential piece to the rollout strategy.

Contact Kettering International Today 

Kettering recognizes the overwhelming importance of differentiating target markets within the U.S. Our team provides critical market knowledge and expertise to enterprise tech companies looking toward international business expansion, particularly in the U.S. market. Contact Kettering International for more information on developing a localisation strategy that will avoid previous corporations’ mistakes and leverage market intelligence for success. Reach out to Kettering today, and stay tuned for our next article, which will explore what happens when organisations fail to develop a U.S.-specific value proposition.